Partnership approach is crucial to turn STEM challenges into opportunities for Limerick and Ireland

27.04.23 BD RCI Limerick, Bursary Awards. Picture: Alan Place

The Site Director at one of Ireland’s leading med-tech research facilities, BD’s Research Centre Ireland (RCI) in Limerick, Mr Sean Wall has said that the growing demand for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) based skills in Ireland can be met only through enhancing the public-private approach.

The BD RCI awards saw four female students studying science and engineering receive the BD Bursaries for Women in STEM. Six students also received the BD Scholarships in Science and Engineering, based on their outstanding academic achievement. A key element of the BD RCI programme is that recipients of the bursaries and scholarships will also be assigned a professional mentor from BD. The recipients also today got an insight into a cutting-edge STEM environment with a tour of BD RCI’s state-of-the-art facility, adjacent to the UL campus in Castletroy and got a chance to meet their mentors for the first time.

Commenting at the event Mr Wall said: “Initiatives to advance STEM skills in Ireland and across the EU are being progressed, given consensus across technology sectors, Government, and educational institutions. Additionally, a lack of Women in STEM has been gathering momentum over the past number of years, yet there is still more which can be done. A recent European Commission has demonstrated that women obtain only 10% of patent applications in the EU and 15% of start-ups are founded or co-founded by women. Education is the foundation of success, and the role of institutions, industry and Government is tantamount to the progression of both STEM skills and the promotion of Women in STEM.

There are good examples of collaboration across industry and education partners at various levels which are backed by Government support. At BD we are proud to be on this journey, making progress across second and third level education, with BD STEM Stars, Career talks with regional schools, participation in academic events with schools and universities and most notably, events like today, in collaboration with the UL Foundation.

We have more to do together with institutions and the Government to provide access to education relating to STEM, as well as tailor the curricula in response to research and industry needs.

From recent media announcements, Limerick is thriving and will continue to grow with major multinationals investing in new and expanded facilities, which will bring a plethora of opportunities to the region. This doesn’t happen by accident, the reputation for education and talent in Limerick and Ireland are driving indigenous and multinational growth, and collaborations across third level and industry partners are tantamount to the continued success and growth of STEM in Ireland.”

Attending the event was Deirdre O’Connor, Access Officer at the University, who said: “It really makes a difference to our students when a company like BD RCI demonstrates belief in their abilities. It’s a very important vote of confidence in them. We’re really proud when we see the very positive student outcomes from these programmes and illustrates the importance of making third level access more equal.”

UL Foundation’s Director of Development Sarah Hartnett said: “It is fantastic to see pioneering companies like BD RCI demonstrate such leadership with their support for the programme to deepen STEM skills and we are delighted to have the opportunity at UL to partner with them. We’re particularly pleased that this engagement focuses specifically on not just women in STEM but under-represented student groups at third level. A key element of the programme from our perspective also is that BD also provides mentorship.  Financial support to help students through their education is one thing but the professional mentoring brings it to a new level. Our students, as a result, have the opportunity to get a really deep industry understanding and support along the way and they are really benefitting from this.”

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