Professor Patrick O’Shea told the monthly Cork Chamber business breakfast that he wanted to utilise 150,000 UCC graduates around the world as trump cards in getting industry leaders to establish a base in the Cork region.
“In Silicon Valley two weeks ago, I met some of the most highly accomplished alumni. They are ready to help Cork and Ireland,” he said.
“We can leverage that expertise to persuade industry to move here.”
Prof O’Shea said Cork could become the Eindhoven of photonics — the science of manipulation and harnessing of light — because of the Tyndall Institute’s position as a world leader in the field.
The Dutch city has become synonymous with industry and cutting-edge technology, with brands such as electronics giant Philips.
Prof O’Shea said that from his experience as vice president and chief research officer at the University of Maryland — one of the world’s leading research institutions, where he oversaw $500m (€440m) annual research funding — the key was communicating with the community.
Maryland had record funding, he said, because it “got the message out” about how the community was benefiting from the research being carried out.
“Once you get that story out, then you get that trust,” he said.
He called for infrastructure throughout regional Ireland to be connected, saying that Waterford, Cork and Limerick should be connected to routes going all the way to Derry in a “Celtic coastal connector”.
“It is critical to the country, not just Cork, to Limerick and Waterford,” he said.
He said the proposed business school campus in Cork city centre will be a driving force for economic growth post-Brexit, as Cork’s importance as a European city was enhanced.
“Business is what Cork is all about. The school can really help spread business around the world. We live in the EU with a stable government and regulatory environment,” he said.
Mr O’Shea announced last month that UCC will build a business school in the city which will be one of the largest academic buildings in the country.
Cork Chamber president Barrie O’Connell said the school was ambitious for Cork, which produced the most business graduates.