Blue Economy Innovation and Development
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The aim of this research is to identify international best practice and the key aspects needed for the development of innovation centres for a peripheral region. The second objective is to outline the sectoral developments needed for businesses to operate effectively both economically and socially in rural areas. This thesis will examine this as a case study for Cill Chiárain in Connemara, a disadvantaged region in the West of Ireland which has had recent planning development underway to build an ultramodern marine innovation centre, Páirc Na Mara. This innovation centre will aim to revitalise the region creating opportunities and an attainable economic growth. First, the thesis presents a systematic literature review examining the challenges and factors which are prevalent in peripheral regions while identifying solutions and processes which may be established for these obstacles to be overcome. The literature component also examines various contributions that examine innovation centres and the common features which are needed for the innovation centres to become a hub to generate ideas, create products and allow for collaboration between the stakeholders involved to occur. This may lead to further interest of other enterprises seeking to become a part of this type of innovation hub. The second paper of the thesis presents a Delphi study conducted with the stakeholders of Academia, Industry, Government and Community. This was done to obtain the different views and opinions on various factors concerning the marine industry and rural regions which may affect the level of sustainability which Páirc na Mara will offer to the locality. The entirety of the surveys took place through Covid-19 which allows for interesting concepts to be formulated for the future of peripheral regions and the rise in remote working.Overall, this thesis presents a case study to policymakers of processes which may be required for sustainable economic growth to occur in peripheral regions. This is completed through examining both rural development and the role of innovation centres in achieving sustainability. The research will provide a deeper understanding of the role of innovation centres and the features which allow for them to become a hub for collaboration and product development. The thesis also offers an insight from participants involved within the marine sector to issues which are currently being faced and how these obstacles may be overcome. This information will be essential for planners involved in the development of Páirc na Mara in Cill Chiárain to assuring attainable sustainability for the region and on its successful application may act as a guide to additional disadvantaged regions to processes which can be implemented to create a level of economic growth.
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