March 12, 2009 07:14 ET

Turning 'Brain Drain' Into 'Brain Gain'

IQ360 Cross-Border Brain Gain

MOIRA, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - March 12, 2009) - A programme aimed at persuading expatriate graduates to return home could lead to dozens of new higher-wage businesses in the eastern cross-border area.

Launched in Newry today by the Southern Regional College ( engaging with Dundalk Institute of Technology ( IQ360 Cross-Border Brain Gain also seeks to encourage internationally mobile entrepreneurs and locally-based 'would-be' entrepreneurs in knowledge-based sectors who commute daily to Belfast or Dublin to set up businesses in the expanding cross-border "corridor."

The campaign is being kick-started by an intense cross-border marketing and advertising campaign and a powerful internet site which will showcase the help available online and face-to-face in Newry and Dundalk.

"A programme of this kind has never been offered before," says Kieran Fegan, manager of Greenshoots Incubation and Innovation Centre in Newry ( which is a joint initiative with the University of Ulster. "A key aim of IQ360 is to attract expatriates with new or existing business ideas and new intellectual property to this cross-border region."

Sean MacEntee, manager of the Regional Development Centre at Dundalk Institute of Technology says, "Business incubation is a process, not just a place. Supports such as mentoring, special advice, access to researchers and networking are far more important than bricks and mortar. These supports will be available online to expatriates from anywhere in the world, as well as face-to-face in Newry or Dundalk."

The programme is aimed mainly at the engineering, software, ICT, creative and digital media, as well as renewable energy and assistive living sectors. Operated from the two colleges, it has been funded by the Department of Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland and covers counties South Down, Armagh and Louth.

The two organisations provide high specification business space where advice and mentoring is available.

"A major EU study has shown that 85% of all companies supported through incubation centres reach their fifth birthday," reports Greenshoots' Kieran Fegan, "whereas usually, six out of ten new start-up businesses fail."

The internet portal has a wide range of online business start-up resources in the form of documents, PDFs, images, videos, podcasts and presentations. There is also a brochure listing all the various forms of support available, including financial support, plus a newsfeed updating social, political, economic, cultural and environmental developments, and a database.

"The forums will be particularly useful, with the setting up of on-line interest groups and sub-groups," says Kieran Fegan. "Information, mentoring and networking are key elements."

Sean MacEntee adds: "The internet portal will highlight the unique academic resources and business development supports now on offer in the cross-border region. It will enable people at home and abroad to be part of a community exchanging ideas and information. So the programme is both internet and face-to-face based."

A management group has been set up and a project co-ordinator, Joanne Merron, has been appointed to take day-to-day responsibility for the website.

"The project will reach out and deliver a very clear message to graduates living both inside and outside the east cross-border region that the academic institutes on each side of the border want to actively support innovative knowledge-based ideas and help promoters turn those ideas into thriving businesses," adds Kieran Fegan.

"Our aim is to turn what was previously brain drain into regional brain gain."


Notes to editors

The launch of IQ36O Cross-Border Brain Gain will take place at the Southern Regional College, West Campus, Patrick Street, Newry on Thursday March 12, 2009 at 12.00 noon. A senior official from the Northern Ireland Government at the Department of Employment and Learning will be in attendance.

Contact Information

  • Serious PR
    David McCavery
    0044 28 92 616840 / 0044 (0) 7739 631540
    Serious PR
    Roisin Duffy
    0044 28 92 616845 / 0044 (0) 7595022632