Ireland’s Midlands named ‘European Region of the Future’

The Midlands region has been selected as a Financial Times ‘European Region of the Future’ for 2024.

The Midlands Region of Ireland has been recognised as a ‘European Region of the Future’ by the Financial Times as part of their latest fDi Intelligence ranking on FDI Strategy.

This prestigious acknowledgment reflects the region’s outstanding achievements and potential for future growth, as outlined in the Midlands Regional Enterprise Plan (MREP) to 2024.

“The Midlands is Ireland’s most connected region, and we are maximising opportunities for economic growth through our three strategic objectives focusing on sustainability, digitalisation, and placemaking”

Enterprise in the region is thriving, driven by the collaborative efforts of the Midlands Regional Enterprise Plan Steering Committee comprising key regional stakeholders from enterprise, government, and academia.

FDI jobs growth

The latest IDA Ireland annual report further underscores the region’s success, with the Midlands being the fastest-growing region for FDI (foreign direct investment) jobs growth in 2023, witnessing a remarkable 5.8% year-on-year growth at IDA client companies. Growth in indigenous Irish businesses in the region has also been strong, with each of the region’s four Local Enterprise Offices also showing increased employment at their client companies in the region in 2023.

“Being listed as one of the European Small Regions of the Future is a testament to the hard work and dedication of everyone involved in the Midlands Regional Enterprise Plan,” said Dr Anne Cusack.

“The Midlands is Ireland’s most connected region, and we are maximising opportunities for economic growth through our three strategic objectives focusing on sustainability, digitalisation, and placemaking.”

Strategic objectives

The MREP outlines three strategic objectives, underpinned by ten actions, to foster regional development:

  • Transition to a net-zero carbon region
  • Continued development through smart specialisation in recognised regional strengths in ICT, Manufacturing, Engineering and Food & Drink
  • Placemaking – positioning the Midlands as the destination of choice for investment, business, and growth

Key high-growth sectors, represented by regional cluster groups, include Advanced Manufacturing, ICT, Engineering, and Food & Drink. Placemaking is central to the region’s investment promotion initiatives, highlighting it as an ideal destination for living, working, visiting, studying, and investing through the Midlands Regional Enterprise Plan (MREP) to 2024.

This dedicated digital platform focuses on engaging, informing, and attracting audiences, while the Midlands ICT Cluster drives digital innovation across all sectors, whilst embedding Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths (STEM) education in primary and secondary schools across the region.

Recent investment announcements in the region include an €85m investment by Danish pharma multinational Novo Nordisk to purchase their first Irish manufacturing and development facility in Athlone. Center Parcs are also investing strongly in the region, with a €100m expansion of their Longford Forest operation set to create 200 additional jobs.

Biopharmaceutical company Zoetis have invested €133m in their Tullamore facility creating up to 100 additional jobs. The official opening of The Cube Low Carbon Centre of Excellence in Portlaoise has further strengthened the role of Portlaoise as Ireland’s first designated low carbon town, facilitating economic growth, innovation and education in the Low Carbon and Renewables sectors

The region’s strong support framework also helps to maintain robust connections with businesses through Enterprise Agencies, Local Enterprise Offices, industry clusters, Chamber organisations, and the Midlands Network of Co-Working Facilities, which offers over 30 landing space locations. Technological University of the Shannon, Midlands Regional Skills Forum, along with Education and Training boards are working to ensure skill development aligns with enterprise needs.

The Midlands also promotes collaboration between industry, academia, and government through the Midlands Regional Enterprise Plan and the regions’ dedicated research hubs including IMR Irish Manufacturing Research, FactoryXChange, i-LOFAR Irish Low Frequency Array, APT Applied Polymer Technologies, PRISM Polymer, Recycling, Industrial, Sustainability and Manufacturing Research Institute, MIRC Midlands Innovation Research Centre, SRI Software Research Institute and COMAND Connected Media Application Design & Delivery Gateway.

Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation Dara Calleary, TD, welcomed the endorsement of the Midlands region.

“I am delighted that the Midlands has been selected as a Financial Times ‘European Region of the Future’ for 2024,” Minister Calleary said.

“The Midlands is a dynamic region in the heart of Ireland with exciting prospects for inward investment, economic development, and business expansion. I would like to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of all stakeholders involved in Midlands Regional Enterprise Plan who have contributed to bringing about this success, especially Chair Dr Anne Cusack and Programme Manager Sarah Morgan.”

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