Ireland’s largest renewable energies research centre has begun its €2m (stg£1.5m) operation to develop SMEs to flourish in the growing renewable energies sector.
The Centre for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technologies (CREST) will be staffed by a multi-disciplinary team of sustainability and innovation professionals providing the SMEs with specialist education, training and R&D support.
Much of the centre’s facilities are considered state-of-the-art including Europe’s first robot-managed solar array, which ranks it highly among the UK and Ireland’s top ‘clean and green’ training facilities.
To maintain the costs of the facility, it will be funded by a number of operations including the EU INTERREG IVA programme managed by the Special European Union Programmes Body (SEUPB) with match funding from the Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment Northern Ireland; and the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in Ireland.
While a cross-border operation, the facility will also be available to those hailing from western Scotland who have ideas for new products or process developments but who do not have the physical and/or technical capacity to develop, test and commercialise them.
The CREST facility based in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh will also avail of the expertise, resources and know-how from four colleges that have led on sustainability training and innovation in the UK and Ireland, namely SWC, Cavan Innovation and Technology Centre, Institute of Technology Sligo and Dumfries & Galloway College in Scotland.
Speaking at the launch, CREST Programme Manager Tim Stokes, said of the facility, “CREST is helping to stimulate innovation and to improve competitiveness of the small business sector in the region.
“This in turn is safeguarding and creating jobs whilst contributing towards better stewardship of our natural environment. We’re already off to a promising start and want to hear from more businesses interested in gaining from our support.”