European Opportunities identified for small Business - McLaughlin MLA
Sinn Fein MLA Maeve McLaughlin has said that it would seem the North has been asleep in comparison to the 26 Counties when it comes to drawing down EU funding.
Speaking after co-hosting an EU funding Seminar in the city last week, along with party colleague and MEP, Martina Anderson, Maeve McLaughlin said that the figures speak for themselves.
Ms McLaughlin said:
“During the last round of European Regional Development Funding the 26 counties drew down almost €500m while the North secured just €53m.
“In stark contrast to Trinity College Dublin’s drawn down of €60.7m over the last five years, Queens University secured only €22m and University of Ulster – including Magee - a mere €10m.
“But as the expert panel who informed the recent Seminar in our Ráth Mór constituency Office pointed out - there are opportunities for the City and wider Northwest Region to access and target crucial funding. The new Horizon 2020 programme which will operate from 2014 until 2020 will have in the region of €80bn available for Research and Development (R&D). It will be delivered under three main headings - R&D, Industrial Leadership and Combating Societal Challenges.
“20% of the Industrial Leadership and Combating Societal Challenges must be targeted at SME’s.
“While I accept that accessing this funding can be difficult, it is imperative that we harness the expertise and skill available to do so. The priorities are identified in the City’s ‘One plan’ and are evidence based. Derry City Council has now got its own EU Unit established to assist in the targeting and signposting of this money.
“A ‘Horizon 2020’ manager has been appointed for the North and seven contact persons will be located within the Universities in fields such as ICT, Health, Transport and Energy. One of these contact points will cater specifically for small business.
“Derry has a unique opportunity in the field of Connected Health with the link between the University, CTRIC and Project Kelvin which is not being exploited and marketed to its full potential. No other region in the North has this resource available to it.
“We should learn from the successes of Belfast’s draw down of EU funding experiences and apply them to Derry’s requirements. But this money won’t simply drop in our lap, we must organise, use the expertise available and which was identified at last week’s seminar to influence and network.”