The Western Development Commission (WDC) is a statutory body set up to promote both social and economic development in the Western Region of Ireland by:
- Developing strategic regional development projects in areas like tourism, industry, marine, renewable energy, technology and organic agri-food.
- Ensuring that government policy is directed at improving the social and economic situation in the region.
- Operating the €32 million Western Investment Fund (WIF) to provide loans and equity to business and local communities in the West.
Small, flexible and regionally focused, the WDC collaborates with public, private and voluntary sectors. The organisation’s strong ethos of sharing intellectual and other resources means it is well placed to help achieve common good within the NPA region.
The WDC plays a key role in regional development through strategic initiatives in various sectors such as renewable energy, creative economy, agriculture and tourism. It also provides a promotional platform for the region (Lookwest.ie), which serves to facilitate individuals and enterprise located in the region. In addition, it advises government on policies affecting the region (all proposals are based on comprehensive economic and social research). The WDC also ensures that government policy is directed at improving the social and economic situation in the Western Region and that the interests of the West are always considered at the highest levels of government. The Western Investment Fund (WIF) is also managed by the WDC – this was established to fill a ‘funding gap’ adversely affecting businesses and community groups in the region.
Since 2008, the WDC has been awarded European Union funding to develop a partnership to stimulate growth in the renewable biomass sector. We developed, with partners unique and innovative programmes that have made a huge difference to the region. These projects included:
- BioPAD (biopad.eu) – BioPAD was led by the WDC and was funded under the Northern Periphery Programme (NPP). Along with the four partners, the €0.7m two year project (Nov. 2012 to Sept. 2014) included 11 associate partners. Its aim was to promote the wider use of bioenergy and developing applications targeting the whole process from supplying fuel to producing energy.
- RASLRES (raslres.eu) – RASLRES was an NPP funded project led by the WDC, with the main objective of the project was to increase the deployment and uptake of locally produced renewable energy solutions in the NPP area. This was a 3 year project from Sept. 2009 to Aug. 2012 with a total budget of €2.88m.
- ROKWOOD (http://www.rokwood.eu/) – Irish Cluster partner – is an FP7 project between 6 European regional clusters, comprising research entities, local authorities and SME’s. ROKWOOD is a 3 year project (Dec. 2012 – Dec. 2015) and is focused on the targeted production on wood biomass in Short Rotation Plantations (SRP) for local energy use.
We have also been involved in a number of other NPP projects, including Creative Edge, and a new creative project ‘Creative Momentum’ was approved in the first call of the Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme and are a partner in the NPA funded FREED project.
The WDC will act as lead partner and is responsible for Work Package 1 Project Co-ordination and Work Package on Communications. The WDC will contribute to all the other work packages and are leading on Activity 3.2 on RE business support and funding mechanisms.
As lead partner the Western Development Commission is responsible for the overall project and financial management, together with the required communications strategy. The activities include the project management, financial management, monitoring, communication, dissemination and evaluation of the project. It will ensure that appropriate financial, monitoring and communication structures are in place.
A key goal of GREBE is to communicate the results of the project to a wide audience across the NPA region and beyond, encourage adoption of the outputs developed and raise the industry potential in rural parts of the NPA region. Results and impacts of the project will be presented and disseminated in national and international seminars, regional meetings, through different media and communication channels according to the joint communication plan. Members of local and energy national networks associated with the project will be kept regularly informed about project implementation and results and access to associate partner expertise will add significant value to the project.