Dr Peter Heffernan CEO of the Galway based Marine Institute, and Prof Ian Wright, Deputy Director, Science and Technology, National Oceanography Centre (UK) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), on 24 April.
The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, TD, was also present. The MoU will foster closer co-operation and joint activities between Ireland and the UK in the area of marine research, development and innovation.
Co-operation planned is strategic and will reflect areas of mutual interest including: hydrography, seafloor and habitat mapping of the Atlantic; the development of fixed point ocean observatories; sensor development and associated platforms, and knowledge transfer and policy advice.
Minister Coveney, welcoming the MoU, re-stated the government’s view that research and innovation are key drivers of economic development and recovery as outlined in the national Consultation Document: Our Ocean Wealth – Towards an Integrated Marine Plan for Ireland (www.ouroceanwealth.ie) and the National Research Prioritisation Exercise.
“The priorities to be pursued in the Integrated Marine Plan for Ireland, will in turn feed into the European Union Strategy for the Atlantic (EUSA) Action Plan (2014-2020) which would be guided by the Europe 2020 Strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and the Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union fostering ‘Blue Growth’, said Minister Coveney.”
Dr Heffernan said “With European Research (Horizon 2020) and Cohesion Policy Funds, for the period 2014-2020, having shared objectives linked to the smart growth objective of the Europe 2020 Strategy, we anticipate an even greater focus on the importance of co-operative research across the European area.”
“To access this highly competitive co-funding, strong partnerships between leading European research institutes and knowledge-based SMEs will be essential. The Marine Institute and the National Oceanography Centre are well placed both scientifically and geographically to benefit from these funding opportunities in terms of Horizon 2020 funding with its focus on excellence in research and innovation and targeting investments towards addressing societal challenges and fostering competitiveness in industry.”
Professor Wright, said “The National Oceanography Centre is committed to forging mutually beneficial international partnerships and we look forward to building on our already strong collaborative work with the Marine Institute.”
The Marine Institute and the National Oceanography Centre have already co-operated, in association with National Geographic TV, University College Cork (UCC), the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG), the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) and the University of Southampton, in the 2011 VenTURE Survey which discovered a new hydrothermal vent field on the mid-Atlantic ridge. This was the subject of special Royal Irish Academy (RIA) lecture Alien world: New discoveries of exotic life forms & volcanic metal chimneys in the deep ocean held on the evening of 24 April.