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TUS hosts leading Global European Innovation Hub Forum

L-R: President of the Technological University of the Shannon, Professor Vincent Cunnane, Her Excellency Raili Lahnalampi, Ambassador of Finland to Ireland, Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity, Senator Pippa Hackett and Chief Executive Officer of Westmeath County Council, Dr Pat Gallagher.

The Technological University of the Shannon (TUS) hosted the second ‘Regional Economy and Society Forum on Circular Economy’ this week in partnership with Westmeath County Council and the Regional University Network European University (RUN-EU). The two-day collaborative event was the final conference of the wider ‘Science Meets Regions – Circular Economy Forum Series’ that has been replicated across three European higher education locations, including the University of Gyor – Széchenyi István University, Hungry and the Polytechnic of Cávado and Ave, Portugal. The series interlinks with the global forum and builds upon the primary focus areas of the RUN-EU European Innovation Hubs: Future and Sustainable Industries, Bioeconomy and Social Innovation.

The core aim of the conference was to influence change on a regional, national and European level by informing policymakers, attracting, retaining, and promoting top talent while developing solid relationships within enterprise, society and government.

President of TUS, Professor Vincent Cunnane, who launched the forum, said, “The RUN-EU European Innovation Hubs are key interregional networks, which harness academic expertise and infrastructure. Building on the priorities of the TUS strategic plan, we will drive the sustainable development of our region while supporting the circular economy and leading the next generation in innovative research.”

Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity, Senator Pippa Hackett, emphasised the potential of the collaboration, saying, “You are all, in your regions, solving real-world problems to help people.  By working together, you are playing to each region’s strengths, complementing each other and integrating your approaches.  You are decreasing risk and increasing opportunities.  While the reach widens to include each RUN-EU region, you are doing something simultaneously contradictory; you are ensuring local impact.”

As regional development is at the heart of the forum, Chief Executive Officer of Westmeath County Council, Dr Pat Gallagher, continued, “Westmeath County Council is delighted to partner with TUS Athlone and RUN-EU in hosting this important conference in Athlone with support from the EU’s ‘Science Meets Regions’ programme. Athlone, in the centre of Ireland, is ideally placed to showcase a wide range of initiatives underway in the Midlands region to promote the Circular Economy, Sustainability, Innovation and Digitalisation. We welcomed all participants to the conference for the interesting programme and an enjoyable visit.”

Her Excellency Raili Lahnalampi, Ambassador of Finland to Ireland, reinforced the need for widespread dynamic collaboration by noting, Circular economy is better for the planet and an economic opportunity for our societies.  Cities and regions can be catalysts for the circular economy transition.  Finland is not only the happiest country in the world but also a forerunner in the circular economy, digital solutions and social innovations. We look forward to working with our European partners and at a global level in making science work.”

The forum’s key speakers represented leading industry, government and non-government agencies, including Enterprise Ireland, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, TUS Innovation and Enterprise, Limerick City and County, Cycling without Age and the Irish Bioeconomy Foundation.

The RUN-EU Regional Economy and Society Forum on Circular Economy concluded by reinforcing the need to build resilience within the region, further leveraging the support and infrastructure of local amenities to develop an innovative and engaged ecosystem.

For more information on the RUN-EU programme and the Circular Economy Series, please visit: