Written answers

Thursday, 1 April 2021

Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

Enterprise Support Services

Photo of Brendan SmithBrendan Smith (Cavan-Monaghan, Fianna Fail)
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13. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the financial assistance and other supports available to local authorities and community groups to develop digital hubs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17953/21]

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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On 15 January last I published Ireland’s first National Remote Work Strategy to make remote working a permanent option for life after the pandemic. A key action within the National Remote Work Strategy is to extend the mapping and classifications of hubs - as completed by Western Development Commission on the Atlantic Economic Corridor - across the country to develop national data on hub infrastructure. Enterprise Ireland is actively working to support the implementation of this strategy through:

- mapping and classification of hubs;

- mapping regional and local need to inform future investment in enterprise centres/hubs; and

- investment in remote work hubs and infrastructure in under-served areas thus underpinning the development of the national hubs network.

On 20 November 2020, I announced €8.24m in grants for 95 Enterprise Centres around the country administered through Enterprise Ireland. The funding will ensure that the Enterprise Centres, many of which have been negatively impacted by COVID-19, can sustain their businesses, pivot and further develop their services to support the next wave of Irish start-up companies. Enterprise Centres provide important infrastructure for entrepreneurs and are an essential part of the start-up ecosystem across Ireland. The Centres, many of which are regionally based, provide space, mentoring and support to start-up founders and teams, helping them to scale internationally.

To date, my Department has provided funding of €250 million to support the establishment of approximately 270 enterprise centres throughout Ireland and administered by Enterprise Ireland. This investment has enabled the establishment of physical space for entrepreneurs, start-ups, scaling companies, SMEs and a balance of small scale FDI; delivery of enterprise relevant programmes to companies; and provision of physical space to support remote working.

Since 2017, Enterprise Ireland has administered Departmental funding to 91 projects totalling €16,434,595 under both the Regional Enterprise Development Fund and the Community Enterprise Centres Schemes. An emerging feature of projects funded under these schemes is the provision of physical space to support remote working.

Currently there is an Enterprise Ireland open ‘Regional Development Feasibility Fund’ that promoters, looking to scope out and investigate the viability of larger full-scale projects such as remote working hubs, can apply for. A feasibility grant of €15,000 or 50% of eligible costs, whichever is lesser, is available to qualifying applicants meeting the required criteria.

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