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Ulster University is pleased to announce the launch of a new project to establish a network of Research Managers and Administrators between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The initiative, run by Ulster University (Ulster), University College Dublin (UCD), and Queens University Belfast (QUB), has the long-term goal of setting up an All-Island Research Excellence Network (AIREN) that will benefit the whole sector.

Within Ulster the AIREN Project will be led and delivered by the university’s Research & Impact directorate and championed by Professor Cathy Gormley-Heenan, Deputy Vice-Chancellor:

"The establishment of an All-Island Research Excellence Network is a fantastic way for Ulster to further embed our core value of collaboration in our everyday activities and engagements with our partner institutions. It will give our Department of Research & Impact even more leverage to enhance the potential of our research both internally and externally and will help build strong and enduring partnerships. We are delighted to be a founding partner of this new initiative".

The AIREN project is being delivered with support from InterTradeIreland’s Synergy initiative. Synergy is a cross border cluster initiative set up by InterTradeIreland, the Cross-Border Trade and Business Development Body. It aims to increase growth and competitiveness on the island of Ireland, by supporting synergistic cross-border connections between networks, partnerships, sectors and clusters.

Through the AIREN project, university research managers and administrators will be proactive and develop new ways to support existing/build new cross-border collaborations between universities and industry in the post Brexit era and COVID-19 pandemic.

The project will run for two years from January 2021-2023, during which research managers and administrators in the three institutions will deliver the following objectives:

  1. Share Research Management best practice and knowledge

    AIREN will hold six virtual ‘Away Days’ to identify and share best practice areas in Research, Impact and Innovation/Enterprise with each other, both administrative and academic. Learning from each other will greatly enhance the professional service and support to the academic community, industry and other stakeholders for the benefit of cross-border collaboration.

  2. Identify and develop research thematic areas and maximise funding opportunities

    The project will also compile a calendar of funding programmes to raise university and industry awareness of the pipeline of funding opportunities available to support cross-border collaboration. This will be presented through a series of three workshops that will also facilitate university researchers and industry partners to connect with each other to collaborate and prepare funding applications, and together maximise the all-island funding awarded through competitive funding programmes. Current areas of established collaboration include Life and Health Sciences, Advanced Manufacturing, Environment/Sustainability. The Network will also identify additional, established and emerging, research thematic areas with ‘All-Island’ potential.

  3. Establish an All-Island Research Excellence Network

AIREN will hold an inclusive all-island conference event to formally launch the initiative, open to all universities, research organisations/institutes, industry, enterprise centres and research funding bodies from across Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland – inviting wide participation and attendance from all stakeholders in the research sector.

The AIREN project will have tangible outputs that contribute to industry and the economy. It will seed and develop strategic North-South partnerships and collaborations in order to

  • Build on shared EU performance post-Brexit
  • Exploit existing and new North-South Programmes/Investments
  • Support research areas, such as Covid-19, that would benefit from all-Island research on a geographical basis
  • Enhance Ireland’s all-island research eco-system through: knowledge exchange; developing specialised skills; interacting with other professional research management networks.

Research managers and administrators from across Ulster, UCD and QUB are invited to engage with and participate in the AIREN Project.

The inaugural AIREN virtual Away Day takes place on 12th May 2021 from 2-4 p.m.  Further information on this and other the AIREN initiatives will be issued shortly. Please email any queries to Shauna McKeown, Head of Research Development