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REGION OF THE WEEK: Mid-West Region of Ireland

Mid-West Region of Ireland

17/10/2011

The Mid-West Region is one of Ireland’s eight statutory regions comprising the administrative areas of counties Clare, Limerick, North Tipperary & Limerick City. It covers an area of 8,248.64 km2 and has a regional population of 374,600 (2010) and comprises of about 10% of the national land area and population of the country.  The region had a GDP per inhabitant of 135% of the EU-27 average in 2008. It forms part of the Southern and Eastern administrative region of Ireland which benefits from its own ERDF Competitiveness Programme worth €146 million in European funding for the 2007-2013 period.

The Mid-West is a relatively diverse region. The Limerick/Ennis/Shannon Gateway is an area of strong urban growth and includes the regional capital of Limerick City, Shannon International Airport, Ennis (the “Information Age Town”), the University of Limerick and the Limerick Institute of Technology. Another third level educational institute, the Tipperary Institute, is located in Thurles, North Tipperary. The Region also contains a number of rural areas, such as the West Clare seaboard and parts of West Limerick. Industry in the region is centred on the urban core of Limerick, Ennis and Shannon where the industrial base is dominated by light industry such as electronics, instruments, metals and engineering. Food processing is particularly important in North Tipperary, where the international pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors also have a presence.

What are the region's priorities?

The Mid-West Region benefits from strong road links and developing rail links with other regions. The region also boasts an international airport (including USA pre-clearance facilities) and the major deepwater port of Foynes. Furthermore, the region has successfully attracted Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), through such features as the Shannon Industrial Estate, the Shannon Free Trade Zone, Limerick University, and the National Technological Park located at Plassey, near the University. Foreign investment now accounts for more than half the Region’s total manufacturing base Shannon International Airport is a major gateway for the western seaboard of Ireland with traffic of over 3.5 million passengers annually. The deep water of the Shannon Estuary has over 12 million tonnes of cargo annually. Regional policy strives to promote and strengthen the current industries and help to coordinate further infrastructural improvements in the Region. 

How is EU regional policy helping?

The Mid-West Region benefits from ERDF funding to promote investment, support innovation and strengthen competitiveness in the Region. Specific reference can be made to the support for the network of City/County Enterprise Boards operating for the benefit of micro-enterprise within the region, also to ongoing support for the national Programme for Research in Third-Level Institutions PRTLI) that provides integrated financial support for institutional strategies, programmes and infrastructure and ensures that institutions have the capacity and incentives to formulate and implement research strategies, which will give them critical mass and world level capacity in key areas of research.
Programme funding has also been provided for a number of public infrastructure projects in Limerick City Centre. Detailed information can be found in the annual reports available on the web-site of the Southern and Eastern Regional Assembly, as well as all programme beneficiaries, at both city and county level (www.seregassembly.ie).

The Region benefits from INTERREG programmes which support socio-economic and sustainable development strategies at transnational and pan-European levels.

Project examples

The MWRA is currently participating in seven EU co-financed projects, including:

DIEGO (FP7 – ICT-PSP programme): An IT project with the main target of improving the provision of e-Government services, accessible to all citizens and removing barriers to the use of existing IT services. The proposed work is expected to have a significant impact on increasing the use of public services by the socially disadvantaged. Project Website: www.diego-project.eu

FRESH (Interreg IVC programme): A research project with the overall aim of strengthening regional sustainable development, whilst promoting economic growth. The Mid-West regional authority is focusing on the area of sustainable urban living with the focus on eco-design and eco-innovation in construction. Project website: http://freshproject.eu/index.php 

BioMob (FP7 – Regions of Knowledge Programme): A project to develop a Joint Action Plan for the mobilisation of biomass resources in the region through Research and Development. Project Website: http://www.biomob.eu/

Further information