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UCC researcher to explore the impact of remote working hubs on rural areas

12 Feb 2024
Photo: Dr Mary O’Shaughnessy, Cork University Business School, UCC. Image credit: Ruben Martinez (UCC)
  • Dr Mary O’Shaughnessy, Cork University Business School, receives prestigious Royal Society of Edinburgh funding award.
  • The project will implement learnings, lessons and recommendations from the Irish remote working hub, in a Scottish rural context.

University College Cork (UCC) researcher Dr Mary O’Shaughnessy has been awarded a prestigious funding award by The Royal Society of Edinburgh to investigate the impact of remote working hubs on rural areas, using lessons and recommendations from the Irish remote working hub experience to explore what a similar network might offer in a Scottish context.

Remote working hubs, coworking spaces and community enterprise incubators are designed to support and grow tenant enterprises through the provision of workspace and a range of additional services including business support, mentoring and knowledge exchange.

The project entitled 'Connected hubs for rural development: Fostering network and capacity building between Irish and Scottish rural remote work hubs' has received funding through the Scotland-Ireland Bilateral Network Grant – a Royal Irish Academy (RIA) and Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) initiative, with the support of the Scottish Government Office in Ireland and the Department of Foreign Affairs. The ambition of the Ireland-Scotland Bilateral Network Grants is to strengthen cooperation and learning between excellent researchers, academics and practitioners in Scotland and Ireland within the five thematic areas.

Over the last decade, the national Connected Hubs network of over 300 remote working hubs has been established across Ireland, many of which are in rural and remote areas.  Various reports have shown the wider impacts of remote working hubs on the rural economy, communities, and future development. The potential of these hubs and the enhancement of remote working opportunities and facilities is a key focus of the Irish Government’s most recent rural policy, Our Rural Future. While Scotland faces many similar rural challenges to Ireland no similar network of remote working spaces exists in Scotland and professional work opportunities remain centralised in major cities.

Dr O’Shaughnessy, Cork University Business School, along with Dr Ian Merrell and Ms Anna Sellars from Scotland’s Rural College, will collaborate with a wider stakeholder network including NUI Galway, Ireland’s Western Development Commission, who lead the national Connected Hubs and Impact Hub Inverness, a hub and business service supporting the development and growth of social enterprises across the Highlands and Islands. The project will be completed by June 2024.

"It is intended that this new network will increase our understanding of the impacts of remote working hubs and facilitate further cross-working between the countries on related topics, such as enhancing rural enterprise, natural capital, and net zero strategies," said Dr O’Shaughnessy.

The RSE's Research Awards Programme aims to support Scotland's research sector by nurturing promising talent, stimulating research in Scotland, and promoting international collaboration. A total of £727,752 will enable research across all academic disciplines with funded projects also enabling collaboration between researchers based at 47 institutions in total, including internationally, with academics based in Ireland, India, New Zealand, and Japan.

RSE Vice President, Research, Professor Anne Anderson OBE FRSE commented: "The Research Awards Programme of the RSE plays a vital role in supporting Scotland's thriving research community. These awardees will help to advance our knowledge, address global challenges, and contribute positively to Scottish society. On behalf of the RSE, I offer my congratulations to these leading researchers and their international colleagues and look forward to following the outcomes of their work."

Professor John F. Cryan, UCC Vice President for Research and Innovation said: "I would like to congratulate Dr Mary O’Shaughnessy on receiving this funding award from the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Her research expertise on rural development and social enterprises from a sustainability perspective has had a major impact nationally, and I look forward to seeing the benefits of her research in this Scotland-Ireland collaboration."

University College Cork

Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh

College Road, Cork T12 K8AF

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