Town fights back

A LARGE provincial town has unveiled a visionary plan to beat the recession and position itself at the cutting edge of the smart economy.

Mallow in north Cork is set to become a national centre of excellence in the teaching of maths and science by establishing a series of partnerships between all of its schools, third-level colleges and businesses to ensure the town produces a generation equipped to work in the knowledge economy.

The ambitious project is being backed by the computer chip giant Intel, University College Cork (UCC), Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) and the National Centre for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching and Learning (NCE-MSTL) based at the University of Limerick (UL).

The project will be piloted in Mallow and if successful will be extended nationwide.

Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation Batt O’Keeffe launched the Mallow: Join the Move project and said it will encourage inward investment and create jobs. The ambitious scheme will see the town become:

* A national pilot centre for new approaches to the teaching of science and mathematics.

* One of the country’s leading information technology communities.

* An IT and medical research hub.

* One of the country’s most concentrated field-trial locations for new wireless technologies.

“This project will contribute to the development of a workforce that is mathematics and science proficient and to the development of future economic success in north Cork, based on knowledge intensive industries,” said chairman of Mallow Development Partnership John McDonnell.

During the course of an inspiring address, Mr McDonnell, a former secretary general of SIPTU, said despite the economic difficulties, everyone involved is determined to help the town.

“We refuse to accept the current sentiment that everything is hopeless. We are about promoting our strengths of which there are very many,” said Mr McDonnell.

Damien Callaghan, the investment director of Intel Capital, the venture capital arm of the computer chip giant, described it as a very ambitious but realistic set of initiatives.

“The manner in which the local community is engaging with the third- level sector to position Mallow for the future is remarkable and innovative,” he said.

Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) has selected Mallow to be one of its principal off-campus field-trial sites for technologies developed at its Nimbus Centre.

Michael Delaney, CIT’s vice president of development, said they have been very impressed by the town’s ambition.

“We intend to work with local companies to assist them to develop new products and more efficient processes,” said Mr Delaney.

The partnership is now embarking on a huge skills survey to create a database for potential foreign direct and indigenous investors.

The partnership has also produced a promotional DVD for the town which will be used by the IDA and Enterprise Ireland.


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