The partnership calls for the sharing of facility space and support between startup companies in Erie and Ireland.


The Erie Innovation District announced Thursday that it has formed a partnership with the Waterford Institute of Technology in County Waterford, Ireland, which is also the home of Erie’s sister city, Dungarvan.


The announcement was made during a web-enabled event held at Erie Mayor Joe Schember’s weekly press conference. City of Waterford Mayor John Press appeared at the event as did Daniel Mulhall, Irish ambassador to the United States.


The partnership calls for the sharing of facility space and support between startup companies in Erie and Ireland.


In a prepared statement, Karl Sanchack, CEO of the Erie Innovation District, said, "This partnership with the Waterford Institute of Technology is a significant win for EID and Erie .... As a host city, Erie should be proud that WIT seeks to collaborate with its Secure Erie Accelerator in sharing business innovations and startup growth between our cities and countries."


During the mayor’s press conference, Willie Donnelly, president of WIT, talked about the similarities between the two industrial cities separated by the Atlantic Ocean.


Both are working to reinvent themselves.


While Erie has suffered its own manufacturing losses, Waterford lost the famous Waterford Crystal plant.


"We know both cities have been challenged to become part of the new knowledge economy," he said.


It’s not entirely clear what form this partnership with Ireland will take. Sanchack said there are a lot of possibilities, including shared lectures and staff exchanges.


At the end of the press conference Thursday, Donnelly had a request for a multi-continent photo and asked that Schember and the EID staff line up beside the video screen of the group from Ireland for a group photo.


Ambassador Mulhall, who was with the group in Ireland, offered his endorsement.


"I believe this partnership is exactly the kind of partnership I am keen to encourage," he said.


Jim Martin can be reached at 870-1668 or by email. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ETNMartin.