Water: the greatest global challenge – May 3013

‘Water: the greatest global challenge’, an international water conference, was held in the Helix, Dublin City University (DCU) from the 14th – 16th May 2013.

Water quality and quantity is a topic of global concern. The world’s water resource is under mounting pressure from factors such as population growth and increased demand from industry and agriculture.

Clean water is essential for life and countless economic activities, including food production, energy generation and industrial outputs.

‘Water: the greatest global challenge’ was opened by DCU President Prof. Brian MacCraith, and highlighted innovations in water quality management that have been developed and demonstrated by a team of Marie Curie research Fellows under the FP7 Initial Training Network project, ATWARM (Advanced Technologies for Water Resource Management)

This three day conference looked to future global concerns for the water sector, and attracting high-profile speakers from industry including John Tierney, Managing Director of Irish Water, Gerald Jones, Corinium Innovation Ltd., Joe Higgins, Veolia Water Ireland, Bjorn Magnusson, Scandinavian, Biogas Fuels AB, Mark Bowkett, TelLab Ltd, Marcelo Morgado, ABES – Brazilian Association of Sanitation Engineering, Martin Curley, Intel Labs Europe and Peter Wolfmeyer, Zenit GmbH.

David Dalton, CEO of Irish aid agency Plan Ireland gave a powerful opening address highlighting the impact that a lack of access to clean water has on children in West Africa.

Agencies such as the Northern Ireland Environmental Agency (Theresa Kearney) and the Irish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also addressed the conference.

Robert Schröder from the Environment Directorate- General in the European Commission provided an overview of the european innovation partnership on water.

Participants were provided with an overview of future funding opportunities by Alice Wemaere from EPA(Ireland), Jane Watkins from Beta Technology in the UK and by Jennifer Brennan the Marie Curie National Contact point at the Irish Universities Association.

A host of other national and international speakers, such as Denis Grey from the North Carolina State University and the National Science Foundation, USA and Prof. Haiyan Pei from Shandong University, Mr Richard Stokes, Director of Innovation, Dr Brid Quilty, DCU and Dr Eleanor Jennings, Dundalk Institute of Technology also highlight the benefits of collaborative networking for innovative research in the environmental sector.

Each of the 14 ATWARM fellows also presented the culmination of their 4 years of research. Members from each of the host institutions, Queen’s University Belfast, Dublin City University, Cranfield University and University of Duisburg- Essen chaired the sessions along with QUESTOR and ATWARM industrial collaborators,

An industry brokerage event was hosted on the afternoon of the 15th May by Invest Northern Ireland and Enterprise Ireland as part of the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN).

This event was opened by Alex Attwood MLA, Minister for the Environment in the Northern Ireland assembly.

A brokerage event is an ideal way to find technology/ research partners, in prearranged 20 minute meetings in one location. There were over 50 participants at this event with 65 meetings arranged during the 3 hour event.

Overall the conference was a great success with over 120 delegates attended the event.

ATWARM represents a collection of industry-led research projects, addressing the innovation needs of QUESTOR member organisations in the area of water.

QUESTOR is an industry-university cooperative research centre (I/ UCRC) – which delivers industry-led environmental research. QUESTOR puts a high emphasis on knowledge transfer to industry and commercial exploitation of research.


(L-R) Prof. Brian MacCraith, President DCU, Prof. Dermot Diamond, Director NCSR, Dr. Wilson McGarel (QUESTOR Centre Director, Queen’s University Belfast), Prof. Fiona Regan (Director of the Marine and Environmental Sensing Technology Hub), David Dalton, CEO of Plan Ireland and John Tierney, Managing Director of Irish Water