Cork and Shanghai – Innovating Together

Ann Doherty, Chief Executive of Cork City Council, delivered a presentation to an international audience at the Pujiang Innovation Forum in Shanghai at the end of October 2018 hosted by the Ministry of Science and Technology of People Republic of China and the Shanghai Municipal People’s Government.

Ann Doherty presenting

The paper called “Cork and Shanghai – Innovating together” describes the innovation ecosystem in the Cork region. However, in the spirit of collaboration and in terms of providing greater understanding to Shanghai,  the criteria used were based on the those used by the Shanghai Institute for Science of Sciences(SISS) for measuring the ecosystem in Shanghai in 2016. The project derived from ongoing collaboration with Shanghai over the last two years as part of the Twinning  of the two cities.

In July 2017 the Mayor of Shanghai Mr Ying Yong visited Cork , the first time for  a Mayor of Shanghai to do so, where he signed an extended Sister Cities’ Memorandum of Understanding with Cork city which included a clause, for the first time,  collaboration in the area of Entrepreneurship and Innovation:  to “Promote cooperation of start-up companies, incubators and science parks in innovation and entrepreneurship; support research institutions to carry out joint R&D projects”.

It was agreed with the Science and Technology Commission of Shanghai Municipality, though the SISS, as part of this collaboration that Cork would undertake a research exercise to map the innovation ecosystem in Cork using the Shanghai criteria.

The paper was  researched by Professor emeritus of UCC Deirdre Hunt and Siobhan Finn of Cork Innovates under the direction of Seamus Coghlan, Head of Economic Development. This was a very detailed exercise given the fact that there are 30 No. criteria in the analysis undertaken. It is also the first time such an exercise was undertaken and gives a very comprehensive assessment and overview of the innovation ecosystem in the Cork region.

The Chief Executive gave a 20 minute presentation which gave an overview of the ecosystem in the Cork region where Cork demonstrated to be have a strong culture of innovation particularly through the strength of its research institutions and creative and well educated talent. It also scored highly in many other criteria such as in the area of local stakeholder engagement and collaboration and also productivity. It was followed by a panel discussion with other presenters which included the OECD and the Chinese Academy of Science and Technology and other distinguished international organisations.

Following of from the conference, further engagement was undertaken with the SISS to get their feedback on the report, still a work in progress at this stage, and which will be completed in the early part of the new year following consultation with the local key stakeholders in Cork.


Prestigious Award for Cork from Shanghai Government

Cork City received a major prestigious award from the Shanghai Municipal People’s Government in Shanghai today. Mayor of Shanghai, Ying Yong, made Pat Ledwidge, Director of Strategic Planning and Economic Development with Cork City Council, a Laureate of the Gold Magnolia Award at City Hall in People’s Square Shanghai. The award recognised his contribution to the development of Shanghai under the auspices of the Shanghai Cork Sister City Agreement.

Mr. Ledwidge is one of ten recipients of the Gold Magnolia Award in 2018 and is the only recipient from Europe. The Shanghai Municipal People’s Government conferred a further honour on Cork as it requested Mr. Ledwidge to make the acceptance speech on behalf of all ten recipients of the Gold Medal Award.

In his speech Mr. Ledwidge thanked Mayor Ying, who visited Cork in July 2017, and the Shanghai Municipal People’s Government for bestowing the award on the ten recipients. He said:  “For my part, I am conscious that I receive this award on behalf of my colleagues in Cork City Council and of the citizens of Cork who have steadfastly supported the development of Cork’s relationship with Shanghai.”

He also added:  “The purpose of Cork’s relationship with Shanghai is to bring benefits to the citizens of each city. For Shanghai to become an extraordinary global city, its focus must also be on issues that greatly concern citizens, such as education, health, recreation and public service provision. Cork already has a very productive range of co-operations in these areas with Shanghai and we will continue to build on them into the future together.”

Mr. Ledwidge stressed the importance of the link to Shanghai:  “It is vital that, as the world grows smaller and opinions appear to be more polarised, we use all channels at our disposal to break down barriers and open opportunities. This is especially important for a small city like Cork in a small country like Ireland. We all hope to continue to deepen this understanding and co-operation into the future.”

The Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. Mick Finn welcomed the award as evidence of Cork’s, and Ireland’s, growing positive reputation in both China and the important East Asia region. He said;  “It is important to continue to development these international connections in the environment of Brexit and other international uncertainties. This is the third major Award that Cork has received in China in the past four years. Mr. Ledwidge received the Silver Magnolia Award in 2014 in Shanghai and Cork received the Friendship City Award for Exchanges and Cooperation with China from the Chinese Government in 2016.”

The Lord Mayor also said that this positive recognition for Cork From one of the world’s premier global cities was positive preparation for his own visit to Wuxi and Shanghai in late October where he will speak at major conferences in each city.

Cork City Council Chief Executive, Ann Doherty, who was present at the ceremony, said it was fantastic recognition for Cork and Ireland China’s powerhouse Shanghai. She referenced the substantial and widely based nature of the Shanghai Cork bilateral exchanges and revealed that she has been invited to make a keynote speech on innovation ecosystems at the prestigious Pujiang Forum in Shanghai on 31 October next.

Whilst in Shanghai, Ms. Doherty and Mr. Ledwidge held meetings with the Shanghai Municipal People’s Government on the development of future project in the context of China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the impending 40th Anniversary of the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between the People’s Republic of China and Ireland in 1979.

The City Hall official who has been the “common thread” in Cork’s sister city agreement for 10 years with Shanghai has been honoured by the Chinese.

Pic: Eoin English/Twitter

Pat Ledwidge is director of services on strategic planning, economic development, and enterprise with Cork City Council.

He was awarded the Magnolia Silver Medal by the Shanghai Municipal People’s Government.

Eoin English


Close up of Pat’s Silver Magnolia award – v unusual for a non Shanghai native to receive the award

Cork’s Lord Mayor Chris O’Leary said the senior management official “has worked tirelessly and selflessly on our twinning with Shanghai and it is a very proud day for him personally and for Cork City”.

Cork has developed very strong ties with Shanghai over the past decade across areas such as education, government, business, the arts, and culture.

Eoin English


Lord Mayor .@chrisjoleary addressing the economic & trade forum, as part of celebrations

The award was presented at a major Economic and Trade Forum in Shanghai held as part of a busy programme of events at which Mr O’Leary is leading a large Cork delegation.

Shao Huixiang, deputy director general of the Shanghai Municipal Foreign Affairs Office, paid tribute to Mr Ledwidge and his work in developing ties with the city.

“We don’t measure success by the size of the cities but rather the quality of the relations and Cork is one of the most successful,” Mr Huixiang said.