I thank members for a range of queries.
I will begin with Senator Blaney's point on what we have done to date in collaboration and what kind of impact that has had. Mr. Hannigan has already spoken of the student journey where a student, perhaps, initiates that educational pathway in post-primary school in County Donegal. In various junctures on that journey, he or she might experience the provision at North West Regional College for a pre-degree qualification or perhaps a foundation degree at Letterkenny Institute of Technology, in collaboration with a top-up opportunity with us, after which he or she may have an opportunity for postgraduate study or pre-PhD studies with Ulster University Magee Campus or LYIT. That is a path well-trodden by many members of the population in the north west but it is one we will seek to expedite by making the transition from one institution to another much easier and plain sailing. That has been the thrust of much of the work we have done since the memorandum of understanding was signed in 2018.
Mr. Hannigan mentioned that we have been supported by the Higher Education Authority through funding and we have been able to use that funding in both jurisdictions. That has enabled us to carry out significant consultancy to create research posts which will better inform our practices in future. We are in the middle of a trawl to appoint what we have called a trans-jurisdictional operation officer or, essentially, someone who will look at those specific pathways from Donegal ETB into North West Regional College, LYIT, or Ulster University Magee Campus in any order one may wish to look at. The main ethos of this is the widening of access and participation in further and higher education and to make sure we can upscale our population of the north west in every way possible.
In terms of our collaboration with LYIT, one example I will give is the epicentre initiative established in 2008. It was between North West Regional College, Ulster University Magee Campus with our intelligent systems research centre, and colleagues in LYIT in support of electronics engineering, and working with companies and industry in the north west in that regard. The project led to two of the major city deal innovation projects referred to in our joint statement, one being CIDRA, which is the Centre for Industrial Digitalisation, Robotics and Automation. That is essentially industry 4.0, in other words, all things robotic and futuristic. It is about the future of work and how we upskill our population to be able to maximise the opportunities therein. The other is the CARL initiative, which is cognitive analytics or data analytics. That is of significant interest to Mr. Hannigan and colleagues in LYIT.
We supported LYIT in upskilling its members of staff through PhD opportunities, but also in shared research initiatives to put both of our institutions in the best possible position to cope with and maximise the opportunities in the data science space going forward. As a result, we have been able to develop expertise and that has been able to spread into other disciplines. For example, Mr. Hannigan mentioned the work we have been able to develop with the clinical and translational research centre, CTRC, in the past ten years in developing a world-leading hub in personalised medicine. Even in the recent pandemic, individuals such as Professor Tony Bjourson have led the way in tackling the pandemic. Ulster University researchers based at CTRC have been in receipt of significant research funding in recent times from Science Foundation Ireland, which is another example of the kind of cross-Border research collaboration we are driving forward. Dr. Magda Bucholc has also been co-ordinating the track and trace data-driven approach to tracking the pandemic right across an island-wide basis.
In that collaborative spirit, we have been able to develop world-leading centres of excellence in data science and personalised medicine which have put us in a much better position to develop a kind of ecology which will make a success of our school of medicine. Again, thanks to the efforts and support of many people in this virtual space, we are in a position to be able to open the doors of our school of medicine in August 2021. We have had the initial graduate medical school admissions test, GAMSAT, assessment series which, even in these difficult times, we have able to run from our Magee campus. Obviously, levels of interest are exceedingly high and we look forward to welcoming that first cohort in 2021.
The development of the medical school has been referred to as a game-changer and as totemic in many circles and it is. It has been mentioned that it is the north-west corner of the island. When we put forward the case for the school of medicine, we were known to say that if one was to draw a line on the map from Galway to Belfast, one would not find a medical school on one side of it but would find seven on the other. The addition of our new school of medicine in 2021 will change all that. It will not only put in place the opportunity to train as doctors and physicians in the north west, but all the kinds of supportive research and spin-off opportunities for local businesses and local researchers in that regard. That is why the research wing of the school of medicine, which has become known as THRIVE and is another of the city deal innovation projects, is pivotal and such a huge opportunity for the city and region.
In that collaborative spirit, we have been able to develop world leading standards of excellence in data science and personalised medicine that have put us in a much better position to develop a kind of ecology that will make a success of our school of medicine. Again, thanks to the efforts and the support of many people in this virtual space we are now in a position to ba able to open the doors of our school of medicine in August 2021. We have had the initial Graduate Medical School Admissions Test, GAMSAT, assessment series whicheven in these difficult timeseven in these difficult timeswe have been able to run from our Magee campus and, obviously, levels of interest are exceedingly high and we look forward to welcoming that first cohort in 2021. That medical school development has been referred to as a game-changer and totemic, etc. in many circles, but it is. It has been mentioned that it is the north west corner of the island. When were were putting forward the case for the school of medicine, we were known to say that if one was to draw a line on a map from County Galway to County Belfast, one would not find a medical school on one side of it but would find seven on the other. The addition of our new school of medicine in 2021 will change all that. It will also put in place not only the opportunity to train as doctors and physicians in the north west but also the kind of supportive research and the spin-off opportunities for local businesses and local researchers as well in that regard. That is why the research wing of the school of medicine, which has become known as THRIVE and is another of the City Lead Innovation projects, is so pivotal and is such a huge opportunity for the city and region.
To respond to Deputy Conway-Walsh's comments, she will be delighted to learn, particularly given her County Mayo origins, that this collaboration is not solely between Ulster University Magee Campus and LYIT. We also work with partners, including in Institute of Technology Sligo, particularly in the life and health space. In terms of the school of medicine, one of our key partners is the National University of Ireland Galway, NUIG. I chair the collaboration group involving Ulster University Magee Campus and NUIG, which collaborates on educational and research areas for the two medical schools.
It is important to note Deputy Mac Lochlainn's point on what is changing in terms of the Magee campus offering. This is a period of transformation for Ulster University but also for Magee campus specifically. It is not just through the city deal innovation project, although city deal is a huge part of that. It is the deliverance of those four projects, the school of medicine, THRIVE, the health research institute alongside the data science hub, which is CARL, and CIDRA in the areas of automation and robotics. They are four initiatives we have been able to develop and are now in the process of delivering. They met with the criteria of city deal and the inclusive future fund.
That is not to say we did not have other projects. For example, my own discipline and background is in arts, humanities and social science, and our Ulster University business school, which is a highly energised department based at Magee campus and probably one of our strongest in terms of collaboration with LYIT and North West Regional College. There are also projects in both of those areas that we seek to develop.
A nod has been given already by Mr. Hannigan to the conversations with the shared island unit. There is an opportunity for transformational projects therein. We welcome the support for Ulster University that was documented in the New Decade, New Approach document, but also the follow-up in governmental terms and by initiating those discussions in which we are now engaged.