July 10, 2024

PolymerConnect Aims To Bolster All-Ireland Collaboration And Innovation

First Polymer Training Skillnet (FPT Skillnet) is part of the manufacturing technologies group bringing together industry, academia and government to launch PolymerConnect, an initiative designed to address critical challenges in the polymer manufacturing industry in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

PolymerConnect aims to create an industry-driven interactive directory of over 350 polymer companies, academic institutions and sectoral partner across the island of Ireland. It hopes to tackle issues such as regulatory pressures and supply chain disruptions that could hinder growth left unchecked. The polymer industry in Ireland is a crucial driver of innovation in sectors such as MedTech, ICT, biopharma, agri-food, automotive, construction and aerospace.

The project is a partnership of the Atim Cluster, Northern Ireland Polymer Association (NIPA), Polymer Technology Ireland (PTI) and FPT Skillnet and funded by InterTradeIreland under the Synergy Programme, which aims to scale cross-border collaboration, using cluster and network development supports to increase the impact of programmes with economic benefit to Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Over the next 13 months, with key activities of the project will include:

  • Data Collection: co-creating data fields through workshops with industry and project partners.
  • Interactive Platform Development: designing and developing a web-based interactive map to display the polymer ecosystem.
  • Engagement and Promotion: launching a marketing campaign and hosting in-person and hybrid workshops to raise awareness and encourage engagement.

Caitríona Mordan, manager of ATIM Cluster, highlighted the collaborative nature of the initiative, saying: “The PolymerConnect Project marks a significant step forward in addressing the challenges facing the polymer industry in Ireland. By leveraging data-driven insights and fostering collaboration across the island, we aim to build a globally competitive all-island polymer ecosystem.”

“PolymerConnect will play a pivotal role in strengthening the polymer sector across the island,” said Damien McConville, programme manager for innovation and entrepreneurship at InterTradeIreland. He added “By providing valuable data and fostering collaboration, we can really understand challenges, drive innovation and competitiveness, which will benefit the wider economy and environment.”

Gerry McNally of the NIPA said “PolymerConnect would promote collaboration, networking and knowledge sharing within the sector across different regions and industries. In the face of increasing demand, rising costs and labour shortages, such collaboration is vital to tackle these shared challenges and capitalise on potential opportunities,”.

Mark McAuley from Ibec’s PTI emphasised the project’s significance for industry growth, commenting: “Ibec’s development of the Plastics Map of Ireland in 2016 laid the groundwork for mapping our polymer sector. The PolymerConnect platform will take this to the next level, significantly enhancing the visibility and recognition of Ireland’s polymer industry on both national and international stages. This project is crucial for supporting businesses in connecting, innovating, and driving the sector forward.”


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