Olympian begins PhD Research in CIT

Olympian begins PhD Research in CIT

Published on: Friday, 12 January 2018

The V-LINC group in CIT have been joined by Conor Harte who will pursue his PhD thesis in a collaborative project which sees the V-LINC cluster analysis and mapping tool applied in Belgium for the first time.


The V-LINC methodology will be used to record, visualise, analyse and understand the BioWin cluster and its ecosystem over a period of three years. The aim is to understand BioWin’s evolution during the analysis and the impact policy/initiatives have on its business ecosystem.


BioWin is the cluster organisation responsible for health biotechnology and medical technologies in Wallonia. The cluster brings together all the Walloon stakeholders (companies, research centers and universities) involved in innovative R&D projects and/or training for the development of new products and services. The BioWin cluster’s membership is made up of: 164 companies (which 7 global leaders: Baxter, Eurogentec-Kaneka, GSK, IBA, IRE, UCB and Zoetis); 400 research units (gathering more than 11.000 researchers); 5 universities (Université Catholique de Louvain - UCL, Université Libre de Bruxelles - ULB, Université de Liège - ULg, Université de Mons - UMons and Université de Namur - Namur) and several prestigious research institutes such as the Duve Institute, the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, the GIGA, IMI, CCMI, and ICP.

Image: Monique Marrec-Fairley, Head of European Projects (BioWin); Florence Hennart, Economist (Service Public de Wallonie); Conor Harte (CIT) and Sylvie Ponchaut, Managing Director (BioWin) at a meeting hosted by the Service public de Wallonie on the 24/10/2017


The project brings together BioWin, The Service Public of Wallonie (SPW) from Belgium along with Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI), Cork City Council and Cork County Council and the Cork institute of Technology from Ireland as collaborators. Speaking about the project, Dr John Hobbs, Senior lecturer at the Cork Institute of Technology said “Conor’s PhD research aligns with Ireland’s Innovation 2020 strategy and will provide critical insights into how cluster policy has been developed, delivered and implemented in Belgium to inform the creation/development of a national cluster policy and world class clusters across Ireland – a key goal within Ireland’s Action Plan for Jobs. National government needs data and expertise as they seek to develop a long-term national cluster policy.”


Conor Harte who holds a Professional Diploma in Education (Trinity College Dublin) and a BA Accounting and Finance (Dublin City University) has a keen interest in economic development and policy. An Irish International hockey player who has in excess of 200 caps and competed at the last Olympic Games in Rio 2016, Conor is currently based in Brussels where he plays his club hockey with Royal Racing Club de Bruxelles in the Belgian national league. Conor speaking about his PhD studies is extremely excited to get started “This is an exciting new project and it will be great to have the opportunity to work with such a professional and established Cluster organisation as BioWin, and their regional authority the Service Public of Wallonie (SPW). I am indebted to CIT for their support in giving me this opportunity and facilitating the research from Cork over a 3 year period. The collaboration allows me to study full-time whilst also playing club hockey at a top level in Europe, improving myself both from a professional and sporting sense. My wife Leagh is a graduate of CIT Crawford College of Art & Design and is the Head of the Visual Arts Department of the International School of Brussels (ISB), so the collaboration between Ireland-Belgium is ideal. I hope the data and learnings collected in collaboration with BioWin will be of benefit in Belgium and have further impact in Ireland.” 

Image: Dr Barry O’Connor, CIT President with PhD student Conor Harte on campus at the Cork Institute of Technology on the 4/1/2018


Darragh O’Suilleabhain, who works in the Economic Development Department of Cork County Council believes that the project “will create linkages for Irish Government agencies and Councils with their Belgian peers regarding: benchmarking, RIS3 strategies and industry support. It is also an ideal opportunity to share ideas and knowledge with the Belgian partners who have developed their RIS3 strategy at a regional and cluster level – something which is becoming extremely important in an Irish context at present.” Whilst Head of Faculty of Business and Humanities, Gerard O’Donovan believes “It’s great to have Conor Harte as part of the V-LINC and CIT team and his PhD study and international collaborations it brings will ensure positive research outputs and impact.”

Conor, is extremely grateful for the funding and support provided by CIT, “the support and encouragement from Dr Barry O’Connor, President; Dr Áine Ní Shé, Registrar; Gerard O’Donovan, Head of faculty of Business and Humanities and Brian McGrath, Head of School of Business at the Cork Institute of Technology has been fantastic. It’s great to have the backing of senior staff at CIT that’s a real boost to me personally and for the project. Being made so welcome in CIT is very much appreciated.

Image: PhD student Conor Harte with Brian McGrath, Head of School of Business outside the library at the Cork Institute of Technology on the 4/1/2018

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