Area of Ireland to be designated EU European Entrepreneurial Region 2018

Eight counties in northern and western region receive recognition

Ireland’s northern and western areas are to be designated the EU’s European Entrepreneurial Region 2018 for achievements in reversing a bleak economic outlook.

The EU has said the award comes at a crucial time for Ireland as it stands on the verge of an unknown economic impact from Brexit negotiations. The award identifies and rewards EU regions and cities with outstanding, future-oriented entrepreneurial strategies.

This year's winner includes eight counties – Donegal, Mayo, Galway, Sligo, Roscommon, Leitrim, Monaghan and Cavan – which together have been credited with developing policies to transform the area from adversity into "one of the most resilient and ambitious places in Europe".

David Minton, director of the Northern and Western Regional Assembly (NWRA), the regional body which administers EU development funds, said the award was an opportunity for this part of Ireland to become a more attractive place to live and work for young people.



“The past eight years has seen regional and national policy invest in innovation, invest in people and invest in education,” he said. “Eight years ago, employment levels in the construction industry were decimated due to economic stagnation. Out of this stagnation has emerged a commitment not to repeat the mistakes of the past. In committing to resilience and investing in sustainability, this region has become truly entrepreneurial.”

Mr Minton noted in particular a network of collaborative Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) which support over 45,000 businesses.

Minster for Community and Rural Affairs Michael Ring said: "The Northern and Western region is now finally being recognised as one of the most vibrant, responsive and entrepreneurial places in Europe.

“Innovative and creative entrepreneurs across the region have led the way for young people, inspired a generation and now are operating at a global level; all from the west of Ireland. This is just one example reflected in every corner of this region.”

The European Entrepreneurial Region will see a series of events throughout next year aimed at capitalising on gains and further improving employment and innovation.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times