CREST, the Centre for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technologies, is a €3.5m EU funded cross-border project aiming to help companies in the region to develop or adopt new renewable energy and sustainable technologies, through the provision of targeted support and facilities. The CREST project partnership, lead by South West College (SWC) also included Cavan Innovation and Technology Centre (CITC) and Dumfries and Galloway College (C&G), on the west coast of Scotland, supported a total of 164 SME projects from Sep 2013 to Feb 2015.
The CREST team at IT Sligo worked with over 50 SMEs throughout the region in this period, and developed an engagement model which became a founding strategy of the Contract Research Unit:
- Identify potential clients and introduce the Research, Development & Innovation (RD&I) support system to them
- Review and define their innovation problem
- Agreeing a proposal for RD&I support to address the problem, including identifying appropriate funding
- Assisting in funding applications
- Technical project delivery
- Signposting to further relevant RD&I support and potential partners
The project culminated in the official opening of the CREST Pavilion in Enniskillen on the 28th January.
The CREST Pavilion at South West College, Enniskillen, is a flagship for sustainable construction which meets the rigorous Passive House and BREEAM Excellent standards. The cross-border facility is supported by the EU INTERREG IVA programme managed by the Special European Union Programmes Body (SEUPB) with match funding from the Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment Northern Ireland; and the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in Ireland, and will provide a demonstration and testing facility for cutting edge renewable energy and sustainable technologies.
The centre was officially opened by renowned UK environmentalist Chris Hines MBE who was formerly the Sustainability Director at the inspirational Eden Project in Cornwall, and of founder member of the ‘Surfers Against Sewage’ movement.
The IT Sligo team of Dr. John Bartlett, Dr. David Tormey, Steve Tonry, Leo Murray and Mel Gavin attended the event, accompanied by two of our clients – Neil Walton (VOYA) and Paddy Campbell (Classic Fires & Floors).
From left to right: Leo Murray (IT Sligo), David Tormey (IT Sligo), Steve Tonry (IT Sligo), John Bartlett (IT Sligo),
John Moore (SWC Omagh), Dympna McCarron (Cavan ITC), Mel Gavin (IT Sligo)
Speaking at the launch Tim Stokes, CREST Programme Manager said the facility would help support job opportunities in the fast-growing renewable energy and sustainable technologies sector and power a new period of growth in the border region.
He added: “The bigger picture is that CREST is helping to stimulate innovation and to improve competitiveness of the small business sector in the region. This in turn is safeguarding and creating jobs whilst contributing towards better stewardship of our natural environment.”
With such a variety of industry sectors engaged it was vital that the IT Sligo CREST team could access an equally diverse expert knowledge base. We have been very fortunate in the assistance provided by students and staff of the various departments within IT Sligo, in particular:
- Michael Moffat, Eammon Price, Robert Craig and the student groups for their outstanding work on the Willow Harvester and ongoing work on an Oyster Shell Crusher
- Sean Dalton for his SolidWorks expertise in a collaboration with our Scottish partners
- Liam Winters and Sean Mullery for their guidance on electronics
- John Joe McHugh and his colleagues, Peter and Liam, who’s help was crucial to our work with the Passive House Academy
- Conor Lawlor and Steve Tonry who encouraged their students to engage in practical energy audits with our clients
- Silvia Gursinski for her vision in the Outdoor Teaching facility
- Dave Roberts and the Creative Design team for their assistance and support
The list goes on. Our engagement with businesses during the CREST project illustrated that a continued support structure is needed to encourage SMEs to develop in the region. The wealth of expertise that exists in IT Sligo is second to none in facilitating this support and we look forward to building on this through the development of the Contract Research Unit. A big thank you from the team, Leo and Mel.
CREST is supported by the INTERREG IVA Programme, managed by the Special European Union Projects Board (SEUPB), with match funding provided by Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment and Department of Jobs Enterprise and Innovation in Ireland.