An historic peace deal and the long-awaited go-ahead for a new campus promise exciting times for Ulster's higher and futher education.
Ireland's economically depriv-ed border region is to be boosted by Ulster University, which aims to help regenerate the area using an advanced telecommunications project, writes Olga Wojtas.
Ulster has won backing from both the British and Irish governments and the European Union for the Pounds 900,000 first phase of the scheme.
Business Opportunities for Regional Development and Economic Regeneration will use a database available on both sides of the border. Interactive maps of the region will display information on opportunities for investment and development.
Gerard Parr, joint director of the university project, said Ulster was frequently approached by development agencies seeking information on economic and environmental issues relating to the border region.
"The Border project will cover a wide range of development initiatives, including local planning issues, the development and promotion of cross-border trade networks, cooperation in tourism and facilitation of local economic action plans," he said.
Advanced telecommunications played a key role in strengthening the economic and social potential of outlying areas by bringing information and services to businesses, enabling small and medium-sized enterprises to fulfil their competitive potential in a wider marketplace, Dr Parr said.
Joint director Adrian Moore said the technology also enabled potential investors from overseas to access local information affecting their business plans.
"The present inability of users to exploit available technology can be attributed to a combination of lack of awareness, poor access to facilities, distrust of new technology and inadequacy of training. Border will address each of these issues," he said.