Collaborative research: Leveraging the Irish border to advance science and boost the island’s competitiveness

InterTradeIrelandInterTradeIreland has been given responsibility by both Governments to boost North South economic co-operation to the mutual benefit of Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Karen McCallion, Science Technology and Innovation Manager for InterTradeIreland explains; “Our vision is of a globally competitive enterprise environment in which Ireland and Northern Ireland co-operate to ensure the optimal utilisation of economic resources, particularly knowledge resources, to drive additional trade and wealth creation.”

Since its inception, InterTradeIreland has been involved with a number of international collaborative research programmes.

US-Ireland R&D Partnership

The US-Ireland R&D Partnership is a tri-jurisdictional alliance between the US, Northern Ireland and  Ireland, which was officially launched in 2006. Its aim is to promote collaborative innovative research projects which create value above and beyond individual efforts. Each jurisdiction is offered a unique opportunity to advance research interests and economic development in areas prioritised as Agriculture, Health, Nanoscale Science & Engineering, Sensors & Sensor Networks, Telecommunications, Energy & Sustainability.

Forty projects have been successfully funded through this initiative to date, resulting in a total investment of over £58million.

Horizon 2020

InterTradeIreland also aims to encourage cross border collaborative research through Horizon 2020 which brings together resources and knowledge to enhance scientific excellence, achieving greater success in addressing problems and identifying efficiencies.

With both Northern Ireland and Ireland reaching their funding drawdown targets from the EU Framework Programme 7 (FP7), increased cross-border collaboration in the latter half of FP7 played an important part in achieving these targets. As a result of the structures and supports introduced by InterTradeIreland, the National Support Network in Ireland and the Northern Ireland Contact Point Network continued into the FP7 programme’s successor, Horizon 2020, to ensure full advantage is taken of the opportunities presented by North South collaboration.

“InterTradeIreland facilitates and assists the pursuit of North – South collaboration through a wide range of cross-border supports and co-ordinating activities. Within the first two years of the Horizon 2020 programme, North-South applications and drawdown has consequently doubled, compared to FP7. Despite BREXIT, it is important that this upwards momentum continues,” added Karen.

Connected Health research is of vital importance as advances in technology have the potential to revolutionise healthcare delivery and reduce the amount of time spent in hospitals and these projects have drawn down over €22 million.

One strand of research Horizon 2020 also focuses on is the effective integration of personalised medicine approaches into healthcare services and systems for the benefit of patients and citizens delivering  cross-border solutions and better health for all.

 NI Cancer Trial Network and Cancer Trials Ireland

 The sharing of cancer research data between jurisdictions is an area of cooperation identified in the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement (1998). Led by the late Professor Paddy Johnston of Queens University Belfast, the resulting All-island Cancer Consortium has supported many cancer research nurse practitioners and researchers from Northern Ireland and Ireland to share best practice with their US counterparts.

InterTradeIreland aims to further develop economic co-operation between Northern Ireland and Ireland in the health and life sciences sector by facilitating the collaboration of the NI Cancer Trial Network and Cancer Trials Ireland. This programme of collaboration is in its infancy, but InterTradeIreland’s workshop at the EAPM (European Alliance for Personalised Medicine) Congress on Wednesday 29th November, aims to showcase expert voices from government, academia, industry as well as patients who have taken part in cancer research trials, to discuss the opportunities and challenges of all-island cancer research. To attend this event, please visit our EventBrite page.  

If you would like any further information on InterTradeIreland’s programmes please call +44 28 3083 4168 or [email protected]



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