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Today, Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science visited Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) to reinforce the importance of research and ideas to Ireland and Europe’s recovery and emphasised how creativity can help produce real jobs in our economy.

The Commissioner, mid-way through her portfolio with responsibility for building a European Research Area and increasing efficiency and productivity of research, delivered a keynote speech on ‘Ireland – Innovation and Internationalisation’ to 200 graduate students and faculty members of the School of Business at WIT as part of the School’s Top Leaders Forum.

Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn commented, “Europe and Ireland are facing an innovation emergency: we must embrace the notion that knowledge and ideas will create the jobs of the future. We need to say to people suffering today because of the economic crisis that, although we are in a dark tunnel, there is light at the end and, ultimately, ideas and innovation will drive us toward it.

“We know in Europe that WIT continues to embrace this reality and consistently thrive in securing research funding for innovative and collaborative proposals, delivering real spin-offs and spin-outs, not least from the TSSG group. I want to deliver a strong message of optimism and support to the students at the School of Business and the wider faculty that their efforts and ideas in enterprise development, including significant doctoral research in the area, will help Ireland and Europe emerge stronger and more competitive in the years to come.”

Dr Thomas O’Toole, Head of the School of Business warmly welcomed the Commissioner to the Institute, saying, “We are honoured to welcome the Commissioner at a time of challenge but also huge opportunity in the third level sector in Ireland and Europe. The School of Business prides itself on its excellent record in delivering capable and innovative students with broad horizons and have striven to provide strong international elements to our programmes and broaden our networks across Europe and beyond. The Commissioner’s ambitious and progressive policies are entirely in keeping with the imperative to cultivate and nurture research and innovation in Ireland and WIT are ready, willing and able to partner with the Commissioner in her endeavours.’

As part of her visit, the Commissioner visited the growing research facilities and incubation centre at WIT’s Carriganore Campus and met with Mr. Donal Ormonde, WIT Chairman, Dr. Ruaidhrí Neavyn, President and Dr. Willie Donnelly, Head of Research and Innovation before engaging in a “walk and talk” session with a number of SMEs, including spin-outs Zolk c, FeedHenry and Betapond.

She also had the opportunity to discuss the work of WIT led EU FP7 projects including the SOCIETIES project led by Telecommunications Software & Systems Group (TSSG), the HIPODERM Marie Curie project led by Pharmaceutical & Molecular Biotechnology Research Centre (PMBRC) and European Research Council (ERC) funded projects led by the Macular Pigment Research Group (MPRG).

According to Dr. Ruaidhrí Neavyn, President of WIT, “We are very proud to have created an innovation platform through ArcLabs which provides an integrated environment which supports idea and knowledge sharing, direct transfer of know-how and IP from the research environment to the business development environment which ultimately results in the creation of jobs for the region.”

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