The REN NET project is part funded by the European Union European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the INTERREG IVA Programme managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). The project lifetime is 39 months, it commenced on the 1st March 2012 and will complete on the 31st May 2015. Grant aid in the amount of €390,047 was awarded to the REN NET Project.
The REN NET project partners are the North West Region Cross Border Group (NWRCBG) – lead partner, Donegal County Council – lead implementing Council, Derry City Council, Limavady Borough Council, Magherafelt District Council and Strabane District Council.
The Renewable Energy Network (RENNET) aims to establish a formalised business network for small businesses working in the renewable energy and green economy fields, with the aim of increasing vitality and profitability for those companies.
The initial initiative shall establish a local network in each of the partner areas comprising of 15 to 20 businesses who shall engage and meet each month. Furthermore it is proposed that the five local networks shall meet twice yearly, thereby feeding into a larger regional cross border network where it is anticipated that between 75 and 100 businesses shall attend.
Ren-Net Project Aims
- Address an infrastructural support gap by establishing a network supporting small and micro businesses in theNorth Westcross border region that are engaged in and wish to grow the renewable and green sector of their businesses.
- Be additional to and a conduit for small and micro businesses to connect with networking activities already taking place at higher levels through the work of DETI, Enterprise Ireland, and such enterprise agencies as the Donegal County Enterprise Board and Invest Northern Ireland.
- Allow for collective working to enable small and micro businesses connect with larger industry players, thereby militating against lost opportunities through isolation and dispersal of critical mass and allowing for greater profitability.
- Aid in the development of a strong, committed green and renewable energy sector, in order to ensure theNorth Westand Cross Border Region gains profitability and productivity from opportunities in these growing economic fields.
Ren-Net Project Objectives
- Establish a network in each of the 5 participating Council areas of Donegal, Derry, Limavady, Magherafelt and Strabane each having 15-20 members meeting on a monthly basis.
- REN NET members will be provided with support and training to help them reach the targets of the project which include: finding new opportunities within the green economy, increase in profits, finding new suppliers, increase in export sales, develop new products/services, enter new areas of work, prospects for collaboration/networking on joint initiatives among network members e.g. joint tendering, opportunities to meet and learn from experts in the sector and chance to participate in best practice trips.
- Establish baseline statistics as to the breadth and scope of the sector in the region, its outputs and the number of key players involved, the number of businesses involved and their profitability.
- Develop a web site for the project with an on-line forum giving advice, contacts, information and new developments within the sector. It will also contain a register of network partners and promote the network at higher levels.
- Undertake Research:
- Research and collaboration initiatives undertaken within the network in order to develop innovative new products, technologies and practices.
- International research undertaken on models of good practice relating to use of renewable energies and transfer models.
- New Cross Border Relationships; one regional network established at a cross border North West Regional level which will meet twice per year.
- Six best practice visits to be undertaken by group representatives over the 3 year period.
Ren-Net Steering Committee
A Project Steering Committee was set up to monitor the implementation of the project. The Steering Committee consists of representatives from each of the five Councils, the NWRCBG and from InterTradeIreland, Invest NI, Enterprise Ireland and the Donegal County Enterprise Board. The Steering Group held its first meeting on 27th July.
Ren-Net Steering Members
The project team will be looking to recruit companies for the Renewable Energy Network and will be targeting:
- Small/micro businesses or individuals engaged in renewable energy or the green economy or those wishing to get involved in this growing sector.
- Farmers interested in diversifying into renewable energy e.g. growing energy crops.
- Those involved in the construction industry, contractors, plumbers, electricians, architects etc looking to gain insight into how the green industry will develop and how they can compete.