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Home » Life sciences » The value of forming a new unique academic-enterprise faculty for Ireland

Professor Anne Greene

Senior Lecturer and Chair of Convene Enterprise Faculty Working Group

An innovative enterprise-academic partnership has been formed to help meet the economic and social challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key employment sectors and two major academic institutions have established a collaborative partnership to help overcome challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Central to the effort is Convene, a new enterprise-academic partnership that brings together Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin) and University College Dublin (UCD) with 34 founding Enterprise Partners, to deliver the skills and innovation to reinvigorate business, fast-track a resilient economic recovery and renew communities in a sustainable manner.

Shared learning

With €17.5 million of government funding, Convene will see the creation of an Enterprise Academy organised around seven employment sectors: tourism, food and drink, creative and cultural, social enterprise, ICT/fintech, medtech and pharma.

The collaboration will combine expertise from the UCD Innovation Academy and TU Dublin’s academic schools and research and innovation centres, with that of the Enterprise Partners, including several from the pharmaceutical and life science sectors.

A new ‘Enterprise Faculty’ – comprised of leaders from business, industry, academia, innovation and research – will facilitate a two-way flow of ideas between the universities and employment sectors. 

Professor Anne Greene, Chair of the Convene Enterprise Faculty Working Group, says: “The Enterprise Faculty is charged with developing unique business focused educational models.

“Our Accredited Talent Development model will support companies, professional bodies and other organisations to design, accredit and run their own courses, as well as focusing on new, innovative and agile ways to foster skills training.”

New expertise can be developed in close collaboration with researchers, industry and professional bodies and regulators for the sector.

Revitalising business

Some sectors have adapted or seen growth during the pandemic, but other areas such as tourism, food and drink, and creative and cultural enterprises have struggled. “Some, such as food and drink, have seen their business model flipped and move from the traditional restaurant into the outside space,” she says.

Convene can work with these sectors in supporting innovative ways of rebooting and revitalising them.” In addition, a face-to-face forum is planned for 2022 to kickstart the tourism and food and drink sectors, while the faculty is working with Screen Skills Ireland to offer support to creative industries.

Emerging skill needs

Support covers enterprises from major industry to start-ups, creating jobs in a sustainable way and anticipating the rapidly emerging skill needs of enterprise. The life sciences/pharma sector has evolved during the pandemic, but Professor Greene suggests that the benefits of this can “trickle down” into the community in terms of jobs and opportunities.

Convene is working with the TU Dublin’s School of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences City Campus to deliver biopharma skills and bring the university to the workplace.

Head of School, Professor Declan McCormack, says: “A workplace-based approach offers many advantages in that graduates from ancillary sectors can be cross-trained into the industry, industry-based employees can be upskilled, while new expertise can be developed in close collaboration with researchers, industry and professional bodies and regulators for the sector.”

Associate Professor John Behan, Head of School of Science & Computing at TU Dublin Tallaght Campus, says: “ Convene is a very welcome and exciting addition to the enterprise-academia landscape, and will offer an ideal mechanism to expand on existing engagements and allow the development of new agile partnerships with the pharmaceutical and life sciences sector.”

Convene was awarded funding of €17.5 million, under the Human Capital Initiative Pillar 3 Fund announced by the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD. 

In support of shared skills and innovation goals, Convene is harnessing the expertise of the UCD Innovation Academy, 12 TU Dublin academic schools, 10 TU Dublin professional service units, 5 TU Dublin research centres, 3 TU Dublin innovation centres and an ever-expanding number of Enterprise Partners.

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