DCU/Ulster University workshop addressing social innovation in cross-border health and education collaboration in the North West (24th November 2017)
This workshop held at the Magee campus of Ulster University focused on the North West as a region spanning two jurisdictions, the unique challenges posed by such a region and the socially innovative responses to planning, developing and providing services in a cross-border region.
Social innovation is a community-driven process of developing new solutions to address social needs. This means working collaboratively, across borders, with communities, social enterprises and others committed to the development of social capital in disadvantaged areas.
In opening the event Trevor Holmes, Vice President for External and Strategic Affairs (DCU) said:
“We have a particular interest in North-South collaboration at DCU having close links with our northern counterparts. Higher education can not only do more to foster educational cross-border links but could also use its resources and partnerships to foster wider collaboration more proactively”.
A keynote address by Caroline Creamer from The International Centre for Local and Regional Development set the scene with a detalied review of the North West of Ireland as an integrated ‘functional economic region’. The current challenges were clearly specified but so also were the opportunities and synergies which existed in the North West. The need for flexible and innovative development strategies was stressed as was the potential role of research.
This was followed by two round tables on health and education respectively.
Contributions on health included presentations on “Co-operation and Working Together – practical examples of cross border health and social innovation” by Sadie Bergin of Co-operation and Working Together and “Cross-border collaboration in health innovation: necessary, achievable, challenging?” by Bridget Meehan of the North West Health Innovation Corridor. A roundtable on the challenges for promoting health and wellbeing in a diverse North West was chaired by Dr Paula McFadden with contributions from Breda Friel (Insight Inishowen and Ulster University), Dr Lucia Carragher (The Netwell Centre, Dundalk Institute of Technology) and Peter Devine (Head of Business Development at the Intelligent Systems Research Centre (ISRC) Ulster University).
The debate on the problems in terms of alignment of qualifications and prospects for mutually beneficial collaboration in the field of education was led by Michael Margey, Head of Business at Leterkenny Inistitute of Technology, Martin Gormley of Donegal Education and Training Board and Linda Clarke of the School if Education at Ulster University. The challenge in education is not only related to cross border issue but also in relation to the differences between universities and institutes of technology and between higher and further education. The benefits of collaboration, however, are plain to see in existing collaborations.
Finally, a new book was launched: Social Innovation in Ireland: Challenges and Prospectsedited by Ronnie Munck, Deiric Ó Broin and Jordana Corrigan drawing together contributions from academics and practitioners in the public policy, local government, social innovation, civil society and local development sectors who contributed to the North-South Social Innovation Network Conference ‘Social Innovation: Lagan to Liffey’ in 2016.
Details of the presentations and the book will be available at http://northsouthsocialinnovation.org/
In closing the conference Malachy Ó Néill, Provost Magee Campus (Ulster University) said that ‘the North West is an integrated socio-economic region which requires a ‘working together across the border’ to achieve innovative solutions to our many common issues’ and that a key role should be played by thre strategic allicance between the University of Ulster and DCU’.
The next steps agreed by the workshop were:
- The need for more research, to define social innovation more clearly, to measure it and to develop a model of best practice in implementing it;
- The data base developed by the North South Social Innovation Network should be used to pilot a new interactive mapping tool that will benchmark the current state of health, education, enterprise and cultural links across the border in the North West;
- To step up more broadly the collaboration between DCU and Ulster University in the areas of research, teaching and civic engagement to harness the knowledge of the universities to address social needs.
The event was organized by DCU and UU in association with the North South Social Innovation Network.
For further information contact: Jordana.Corrigan@dcu.ie or Philip.Mcdermott@ulster.ac.uk