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Cluster to help Manufacturing SMEs in all aspects of digital transformation and Industry 4.0 launched in LIT


15 December 2020

The IDEAM (Irish Digital Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing) Cluster, designed to assist Manufacturing SMEs in all aspects of digital transformation and Industry 4.0, was launched at Limerick Institute of Technology LIT today Tuesday (December 15, 2020).

The cluster will help more than 70 Manufacturing SMEs, from the Mid West and all over Ireland to increase productivity, improve competitiveness and expand into international markets. 

IDEAM will also bring together and support the growth of three well established networks, -Limerick for Engineering, Limerick for IT and the Precision and Turned Parts Manufacturing Association (PTMA) through this overarching cluster.

The cluster received the maximum allocation of €406,520 from the Regional Technology Clustering Fund, which provides a platform for engagement between enterprise and regionally-based academic institutions to drive productivity and competitiveness across the regions, and is overseen by Enterprise Ireland.

Dr Liam Brown, Vice-President for Research, Development & Innovation, LIT said, “Business clusters have proven to drive regional economic development performance, due to the significantly greater increases in innovation and technology applications, and commercialisation of these applications. IDEAM will act as a catalyst for bringing together the key stakeholders from industry, academia, and government to make a real impact on the development of the advanced manufacturing and digital transformation sector in the Mid-West region and Ireland as a whole.

“The IDEAM Cluster will enable the AIT - LIT Consortium to cooperate and engage further with SMEs providing a means to increase their educational and research remit in all aspects of digital transformation and Industry 4.0. Working jointly as part of the AIT - LIT Consortium can bring many new opportunities for manufacturing SMEs to augment their digital journey.”

The Irish digital technology sector is thriving with annual sales of over €6.5 billion with more than 1,000 companies operating across a wide number of industries. The manufacturing sector in Ireland employs 205,700 people directly and 400,000 people across all skills levels. More than 80% of companies have said that automaton of manufacturing was critical to their future success with robotics, AI & data analytics, additive manufacturing and 3D printing IN4.0 digital technologies being implemented.

Jamie Meehan, Educational and Outreach Manager, IDEAM Cluster stated, “Industry must be at the pinnacle of what the cluster is trying to achieve with the backing of the three pillars - industry, academia and government. The global industry is growing unprecedentedly and now is the right time to make the Mid-West region and Ireland a world-class one-stop-shop that will assist Manufacturing SMEs in all aspects of digital transformation and Industry 4.0. An advanced manufacturing and IN4.0 digital transformation cluster can pioneer Ireland on an international scale to attract start-ups, investments and develop indigenous SMEs in this sector, but everyone must work more collectively and build trust towards specific goals with a strategic focus.”

Dr John Cosgrove, Head of Graduate Studies and Acorn Research Team Leader, LIT added that, “Collaboratively working and backing industry in the region is one of LIT’s main objectives as we continue to develop programmes to specifically meet industry needs and up-skill our students to prepare them for industry employment. The IDEAM Cluster will help to ease industry pain points and open new doors for SMEs to become more competitive and productive.”

Harriet Cotter Manager Regional Technology Clustering Fund at Enterprise Ireland said Enterprise Ireland was delighted to be funding the Institutes of Technology to develop capability in clustering amongst industry in their regions. 

"IDEAM will add to the eco-system for manufacturing and ICT companies in the mid-west region. LIT have specialist capability in the area of manufacturing 4.0 and given the relatively high number of traditional manufacturing companies in the region, this cluster can only benefit the individual companies and create a positive economic impact regionally and potentially nationally,” she said.