May 31st, 2021
Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, today launched the Connected Hubs Network, Ireland’s first digital network of national remote working hubs.
Announcing the launch of the network in Swinford, Co Mayo, Minister Humphreys said: “Remote Working is a key commitment of ‘Our Rural Future’, the most ambitious policy for Rural Ireland in decades.
“Hub working can support the development of employment opportunities and career paths in rural areas. This will give young people the choice to stay closer to home while pursuing their careers and also to encourage people living in cities to consider moving to a more rural location. The Connected Hubs Network provides the perfect opportunity for workers and employers to embrace a ‘blended working’ model, and to find the balance of hub, home and office working that works best for them.”
Connectedhubs.ie is funded by the Department of Rural and Community Development and managed by the Western Development Commission. It is a new and exciting Government initiative developed as part of the Our Rural Future – Rural Development Policy. This shared remote working platform can support the rebalancing of economic activity throughout and help to promote regional development in Ireland.
April 1st, 2021
Chaired by Minister Damien English TD, Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment, the inaugural meeting of the National Steering Committee for the development of a Quality Standards System and Framework for Ireland’s enterprise hub sector took place this week.
The National Steering Committee, which will be managed and coordinated by NACEC, has been assembled to oversee the project and support collaboration and alignment between the key stakeholders. Committee members include senior officials from Enterprise Ireland; IDA Ireland; the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI); the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment, the Western Development Commission; the Regional Enterprise Plans Programme and the County & City Managers Association (CCMA). Independent consultants Dolmen Design & Innovation have been appointed to design and deliver the project which will help to provide a connected and professional structure to a national hubs infrastructure that already plays a pivotal role in supporting startups, SMEs, multinationals and remote workers from across the public and private sectors.
Speaking to committee members, Minister Damien English TD said ‘this project is timely and fits in with Government’s ambitions under our renewed Regional Enterprise Plans and the ‘Our Rural Future’ strategy which was announced earlier this week. It sets out a pathway to develop a national network of enterprise centres and coworking hubs that will support the realisation of a sustainable regional development model for Ireland. NACEC’s plans are important in improving work-life-balance, will support environmental sustainability and facilitates balanced economic development – all of which are important strategic and policy objectives for this government as we work towards a post pandemic jobs-led recovery’.
The Quality Standards for Hubs project is a key deliverable of the NACEC Strategic Plan 2019-21 which was launched by Minister Heather Humphreys in October 2019. The project is also one of the key actions to be delivered as part of the NACEC Regional Transformation Programme which is being supported under the Regional Enterprise Development Fund. Once completed it will be the first of its kind in the world and this presents a great opportunity for Ireland post Covid.
Mark Christal, Manager of Regions and Entrepreneurship at Enterprise Ireland said ‘we want to continue developing and improving the capability and effectiveness of the national hubs infrastructure with the end user in mind and that means adapting to the changing needs of our clients and customers and being more creative, collaborative and ambitious. The development of this new Quality Standards System for Ireland’s Enterprise Hub sector presents an real opportunity for Ireland to position itself as a world class destination for remote working, startup ecosystem, SME and community enterprise development, clustering and innovation and we are delighted to be funding and supporting this fantastic initiative’.
To conclude, Gary O’Meara, Chairperson of NACEC and CEO of Meath Enterprise said ‘I think a hybrid or blended approach to flexible working is the future where people from across the public and private sectors will be able to work from home and hub and possibly the office when really necessary. The challenge for hubs is to be ready to facilitate this new hybrid working model by providing clean, safe and professionally managed services and facilities that can meet the requirements of a varied client base which might include Startups, SMEs, staff and executives from large Corporates or MNCs as well as public sector employees, social enterprises and education / training providers. Hubs, if managed correctly, have the potential to really drive economic activity and social prosperity throughout our regions and across rural Ireland and I believe that this new quality standards for hubs project, with the support of this National Steering Committee, can help make these new future of work opportunities a reality’.
– ENDS –
NOTE FOR EDITORS
The National Association of Community Enterprise Centres (NACEC) is the leading community network of enterprise, digital, sectoral and co-working locations across Ireland. With over 120 members, NACEC was formed in 2008, building on the foundation of earlier regional community enterprise centre networks.
NACEC’s Strategic Plan for the community enterprise sector in Ireland was launched by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment in late 2019. At the core of the strategy are five strategic goals and a number of accompanying actions, including the rollout of a quality standards framework for enterprise centres and remote working hubs.
Enterprise Ireland’s Regional Enterprise Development Fund 2017 – 2020 forms part of an overarching strategy by the national government to support regional enterprise development. This Regional Competitive Fund aims to support significant regional initiatives which build upon sectoral strengths and/or to better leverage identified resources to improve enterprise capability.
The Regional Co-Working Analysis – which was prepared by the three Regional Assemblies of Ireland in 2020 – found that 387,000 private sector workers are capable of operating remotely in Ireland.
National Steering Committee Members
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
Siobhán Finn, National Hub Network Manager @ NACEC
Tel: 353 86 287 2286 | Email: [email protected]
Gary O Meara, Chairperson @ NACEC | CEO Meath Enterprise
Tel: 353 87 222 2306 | [email protected]
March 30th, 2021
As the national association representing the community network of enterprise, digital, sectoral and co-working locations across Ireland, we at NACEC strongly welcomed yesterday’s launch by Government of Our Rural Future: Rural Development Policy 2021-2025.
For more than a year now, the immense challenges brought about by COVID-19 have challenged our lives and our country in ways we would not have thought possible, not least forcing a move to remote working for the vast majority of our workforce. In doing we have been forced to change the way we work, accelerating the adaption of a hybrid model of working and offering us a once in a lifetime opportunity to reimagine the future of our towns and villages across Ireland.
Our Rural Future outlines an extensive range of incentives, actions and commitments to Rural Ireland, including the development of 400 co-working spaces, relocation grants, tax incentives, funding for local authorities and community groups, move to 20% remote working in the public sector in 2021, with further annual increase over the next 5 years.
The strategy sets out a commitment for major investment in remote working over the next five years, allowing people to live and work in rural communities regardless of where their employer or head office is located.
Such commitment by government represents significant opportunity for our member centres and hubs across the country. With an infrastructure that is imbedded in multiple communities across the country, NACEC will work side-by-side with our members to ensure every centre and hub will maximise opportunities for the communities in which they are located.
At NACEC, we are committed to working with community stakeholders including Enterprise Ireland, IDA, WDC, Grow Remote and many more. We have confidence in the future of rural Ireland and we look forward to supporting our government in the delivery of a stronger future for our rural communities across the country.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
Siobhán Finn, National Hub Network Manager @ NACEC
Tel: 353 86 287 2286 | Email: [email protected]
Gary O Meara, Chairperson @ NACEC | CEO Meath Enterprise
Tel: 353 87 222 2306 | [email protected]
NACEC – Ireland’s Enterprise Hub Network – supports the commitment of many organisations across the enterprise community who actively contribute to the sustainable and balanced economic and societal development of our regions and cities.
In this context, NACEC welcomes the launch of the ‘Spanning Boundaries Development Programme’ under the umbrella of the Erasmus+ Knowledge Alliance ‘Spanning Boundaries’ Project. One of their key deliverables is Europe’s first dedicated training programme for individuals working to break down the barriers between academia and industry.
The project team will work with HEIs and the business community to bridge the gap between policy and practice through the design and delivery of this experiential learning programme. Successful outputs will enable university and business professionals to make a stronger contribution to regional economic and social development by facilitating knowledge exchange; support and a closer engagement with each other and their respective communities. Commencing in March 2021, the free programme will be delivered across a European-wide network from 8 European countries.
This Spanning Boundaries Development Programme is funded under the Erasmus+ Knowledge Alliance and includes 10 partners across the EU. In Ireland, the project is led by Meath County Council and Leitrim-based Momentum Educate + Innovate and is being proudly supported by NACEC – Ireland’s Enterprise Hub Network.
To reserve a place on the programme, visit SB Training – Spanning Boundaries (spanning-boundaries.eu)
NACEC has appointed Siobhán Finn as National Hub Network Manager. Working alongside the NACEC Board, and other relevant stakeholders, Siobhán will be responsible for the delivery of NACEC’s Regional Transformation Programme which is a key deliverable of NACECs Strategic Plan for the period 2019 – 2021.
With the backing of Enterprise Ireland’s 2019 Regional Enterprise Development Fund, NACEC’s Regional Transformation Programme is a step change programme of tailored actions for the community enterprise sector to realise transformation, growth and future proofing of the enterprise centre business model in Ireland, enabling centres to continue to accelerate economic recovery in all regions of the country by delivering on the potential of local and regional enterprise strengths.
This Regional Transformation Programme has been specifically designed with capacity building and innovation in mind. The entire programme of initiatives and activities is geared towards enabling enterprise centres to maximise their resources, streamline their activities and so provide ultra-professional services to their clients to enable community and economic development. This has never been more critical than in this economic climate where startups and SMEs are challenged to survive and rebuild in the face of the current pandemic.
Commenting on the appointment Gary O Meara, Chairperson of the NACEC Board said ‘This is the start of a very exciting chapter – albeit in very challenging times – for NACEC, and Ireland’s Enterprise Hub sector in general, and I really look forward to working with and supporting Siobhán and the rest of the team in the weeks and months ahead’.
Commenting on her appointment, Siobhán Finn said ‘NACEC has a key role to play in the recovery of our economy post Covid-19, most particularly across our rural regions. I very much look forward to making a significant contribution to the vision of NACEC and to supporting its member network during these challenging times. I am confident that NACEC will emerge as an even stronger network on the back of the Enterprise Ireland funded Regional Transformation Programme’.
A native of Cork county, Siobhán is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin with an MSc in Management Practice as well as being a graduate of the Marketing Institute of Ireland and having a Diploma in Business Innovation Development from TU Dublin. Siobhán has worked across the public and private sector for over 30 years with particular focus on leading, facilitating and managing multiple-stakeholder consortia. Siobhán also has extensive experience in managing EU projects and acts as external advisor on a number of additional projects.
Country’s enterprise centres awarded €8.24m in funding
Grants will range in size from €10,000 to €150,000
Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar, TD, has announced a total of €8.24 million in grants to 95 enterprise centres throughout the country under Enterprise Ireland’s Enterprise Centres Fund.
The funding is considered crucial for the future of the enterprise centre sector in Ireland as hubs around the country implement a recovery plan for businesses within their remit over the next six to 12 months.
Mr Varadkar said the funding made available through his Department would help enterprise centres all over the country modernise their facilities, protecting the health and safety of people working there and helping to secure jobs.
The 95 centres will receive grants ranging in size from €10,000 to €150,000.
A major analysis of the sector earlier this year shone a light on the devastating effects Covid-19 has wrought on enterprise centres in every county, with almost 88% of centres reporting a drop in income of between 21% and 80% as many of their entrepreneur tenants struggled to keep their own businesses afloat.
Among its stark findings were that while the vast majority of hubs had seen tenants closing their doors temporarily (83.5%), one-third (33%) of centres said some tenants have shuttered their businesses permanently.
The chairperson of the National Association of Community Enterprise Centres (NACEC), Gary O’Meara, welcomed today’s funding announcement, saying it was the culmination of months of research and collaboration between NACEC, Enterprise Ireland, the Dept of Enterprise and other key stakeholders from across the public and private sector, and which resulted in the publication of the Enterprise Centres/Hubs Covid-19 National Impact + Recovery Plan by NACEC last August.
He added: “Hubs, if managed correctly, have the potential to really drive economic activity and social prosperity throughout our regions and across rural Ireland, and I believe NACEC is now very well placed to help make these new future of work opportunities a reality.”
Mr O’Meara added that as traditional workplace dynamics have been overturned by Covid-19 and new social distancing requirements, enterprise hubs and co-working spaces are in an ideal position to provide a new ‘Hub-Home-HQ’ model as companies and their employees embrace new ways of working.
Julie Sinnamon, Enterprise Ireland CEO, said: “Over the past 20 years, enterprise centres have provided 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, connectivity, mentoring and support to start-up founders and teams, helping them to scale nationally.”
She added that the funding just announced would ensure that 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 start-up companies.
According to the NACEC Strategic Plan 2019-2021 launched last year, its enterprise hub members supported over 5,500 jobs in over 1,800 businesses, with a salary contribution to the economy of €247.5 million per annum.
|Number||Applicant Name (Correct legal entity name)||County||Nuts III Region||Grant Amount (€)|
|1||Landingzone Ltd T/A Dogpatch Labs||Dublin City||Dublin||150,000|
|2||Republic of Work (Cork) Limited||Cork||South||149,000|
|3||CIT Innovation Centre DAC. T/A The Rubicon||Cork||South||43,045|
|4||Haslette Holdings Ltd. T/A ManorHUB||Leitrim||Northwest||16,304|
|5||Thurles Community Enterprise Centre Limited (TCEC)||Tipperary||Mid-West||97,766|
|6||Blackgate Innovation Ltd T/A Vision 85||Portlaoise||Midlands||46,800|
|7||Vaaw Ltd/Culture Co-Working||Cork||South||41,200|
|8||Charlesford Ltd T/A The Spool Factory**||Roscommon||West||67,500|
|9||Mobile Clipboard Ltd||Galway||West||10,905|
|10||The Box CoWork Ltd||Kerry||Mid-West||46,600|
|11||HQ Coworking Space Ltd.||Kerry||Mid-West||91,920|
|12||Ardee Community Development Company Ltd.||Louth||Northeast||105,420|
|13||Ionad Fiontar Pobal Iar Dheisceart Dhun Na Ngall Teoranta||Donegal||Northwest||10,648|
|Number||Applicant Name (Correct legal entity name)||County||EI Region||Grant Amount|
|1||Action Community & Enterprise CLG t/a ACE Enterprise Park||Dublin South||Dublin||150,000|
|2||Action Tuam Company Limited by Guarantee||Galway||West||150,000|
|3||Allenwood Community Development Association CLG||Kildare||Mid-East||75,359|
|4||Arclabs Research & Innovation Centre Waterford Institute of Technology||Waterford||Southeast||119,830|
|5||Arklow Business Enterprise Centre Ltd.||Wicklow||Mid-East||99,820|
|6||Athlone Community Development Association CLG||Westmeath||Midlands||82,600|
|7||Ballinasloe Area Community Development CLG Ballinasloe Enterprise Centre||Galway||West||50,176|
|8||Ballyhoura Food Centre (Hospital) DAC||Limerick||Mid-West||28,480|
|9||Ballyhoura Food Centre (Mitchelstown) DAC||Cork||South||28,400|
|10||BASE Enterprise CLG||Dublin Fingal||Dublin||81,920|
|11||Bia Innovator Campus CLG||Galway||West||54,000|
|12||Broadford Community Enterprise Centre CLG||Limerick||Mid-West||40,000|
|13||Brookpark Enterprise Centre CLG||Cork||South||38,560|
|14||Carlow Community Enterprise Centres CLG||Carlow||Southeast||96,478|
|15||Castleblayney Community Enterprise CLG||Monaghan||North-East/ North-West||45,760|
|16||Cavan County Enterprise Fund **||Cavan||Northeast||83,200|
|17||Cavan Digital Hub DAC||Cavan||Northeast||56,128|
|18||Cavan Innovation & Technology Centre Ltd||Cavan||Northeast||99,040|
|19||Churchfield Community Trust||Cork||South||37,502|
|20||COLAB Letterkenny Institute of Technology||Donegal||Northwest||150,000|
|21||Cork Urban Enterprises CLG T/A Northside for Business Campus||Cork||South||103,400|
|22||County Kildare Chamber of Commerce CLG||Kildare||Mid-East||17,416|
|23||Creative Spark CLG||Louth||Northeast||108,000|
|24||Croom Community Enterprise Centre DAC||Limerick||Mid-West||44,171|
|25||Digital Hq CLG t/a Dún Laoghaire Enterprise Centre||Dublin Dun Laoghaire Rathdown||Dublin||28,483|
|26||Donegal County Enterprise Fund **||Donegal||Northwest||90,648|
|27||Drogheda Enterprise Centre CLG||Louth||Northeast||140,600|
|28||Drumshanbo Enterprise Centre Company CLG||Leitrim||Northwest||81,384|
|29||Drumshanbo Community Council CLG||Leitrim||Northwest||96,240|
|30||Dublin Business Innovation Centre t/a [email protected] BIC||Dublin City||Dublin||34,353|
|31||Dublin Enterprise & Technology Centre T/A Guinness Enterprise Centre||Dublin City||Dublin||147,000|
|32||Dundalk Institute of Technology t/a Regional Development Centre||Louth||Northeast||146,170|
|33||Dungarvan Enterprise Centre CLG||Waterford||Southeast||64,369|
|34||Enterprise & Research Incubation Centre (ERIC)||Carlow||Southeast||32,000|
|35||Enterprise Castlerea Company Limited by Guarantee – T/A The Hub / An Chistin Food Hub||Roscommon||West||52,500|
|36||Ferbane Business & Technology Park CLG||Offaly||Midlands||40,000|
|37||Fumbally Exchange CLG||Dublin City||Dublin||148,600|
|38||Galway City Innovation District CLG||Galway||West||149,978|
|39||Galway Mayo Institute of Technology – GMIT Innovation Hubs- Galway (iHub Galway)||Galway||West||101,442|
|40||Galway Technology Centre DAC||Galway||West||149,400|
|41||Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology Innovation Hub Mayo||Mayo||West||75,828|
|42||Innovate Dublin Communities CLG||Dublin Fingal||Dublin||145,024|
|43||Institute of Technology Sligo T/A Innovation Centre at IT Sligo||Sligo||North-East/ North-West||146,220|
|44||IRD North Mayo – West Sligo (t/a Moy Valley Resources)||Mayo||West||10,200|
|45||Kells Community Enterprise Company CLG||Meath||Mid-East||148,720|
|46||Kerry Innovation Centre CLG t/a Tom Crean Business Centre||Kerry||Mid-West||95,067|
|47||Kilkenny Community Enterprise Centre CLG t/a The Abbey Business Centre||Kilkenny||Southeast||86,880|
|48||Killarney Technology Innovation Limited||Kerry||Mid-West||75,600|
|49||Leitrim County Enterprise Fund T/A The Hive **||Leitrim||North-East/ North-West||139,637|
|50||Limerick Institute of Technology Questum Acceleration Centre||Tipperary||Mid-West||112,322|
|51||LIT Hartnett Enterprise Acceleration Centre (HEAC)||limerick||Mid-West||87,525|
|52||Ludgate Operations CLG||Cork||South||117,152|
|53||Meath Enterprise Centre Company CLG||Meath||Mid-East||145,664|
|54||Midlands Innovation and Research Centre||Westmeath||Midlands||56,327|
|55||Mitchelstown Community Forum CLG||Tipperary||Mid-West||84,400|
|57||Monaghan County Enterprise Fund **||Monaghan||Northeast||81,600|
|58||National University of Ireland Galway Business Innovation Centre (BIC) – Innovation Office||Galway||West||98,000|
|59||Nexus Innovation Centre UL||Limerick||Mid-West||145,394|
|60||Nutgrove Community Enterprise Centre CLG||Dublin Dun Laoghaire Rathdown||Dublin||39,896|
|61||Offaly Innovation and Design Centre CLG||Offaly||Midlands||69,760|
|62||Partas CLG||Dublin South||Dublin||64,000|
|63||Portarlington Enterprise Centre CLG||Laois||Midlands||67,840|
|64||Portlaoise Enterprise Centre||Laois||Midlands||88,000|
|65||RDI Hub Company Limited by Guarantee||Kerry||Mid-West||104,794|
|66||S.C.C.U.L Enterprises CLG||Galway||West||150,000|
|67||Sneem Innovation & Technology Services CLG||Kerry||Mid-West||77,808|
|68||Social and Local Enterprise Alliance DAC||Dublin South||Dublin||136,000|
|69||St Paul’s Area Development Enterprise Ltd t/a SPADE Enterprise Centre||Dublin City||Dublin||119,200|
|70||Sustainable Ireland Cooperative Society Ltd & North Tipperary Green Enterprise Park CLG||Tipperary||Mid-West||71,760|
|72||The Community Enterprise Society CLG t/a Terenure Enterprise Centre||Dublin South||Dublin||54,660|
|73||The Media Cube||Dublin Dun Laoghaire Rathdown||Dublin||120,000|
|74||The Model County Enterprise Group CLG – Centre Enniscorthy||Wexford||Southeast||98,400|
|75||The Model County Enterprise Group CLG – Centre The Hatch||Wexford||Southeast||52,800|
|76||TU Dublin Tallaght Campus t/a Synergy Centre||Dublin South||Dublin||89,390|
|77||Tubbercurry Development CLG T/A An Chroí South Sligo Enterprise Centre||Sligo||North||67,600|
|78||UCD Nova Designated Activity Company||Dublin Dun Laoghaire Rathdown||Dublin||132,043|
|79||University College Cork||Cork||South||105,480|
|80||Waterford City Community Enterprise Centre CLG: Trading as: Waterford City Enterprise Centre||Waterford||Southeast||80,503|
|81||Westport Multi Agency Enterprise CLG TA Leeson Enterprise Centre||Mayo||West||74,600|
|82||Wexford Community Development Association Society Limited Trading as Wexford Enterprise Centre||Wexford||Southeast||144,395|
NACEC is recruiting a
The National Association of Community Enterprise Centres (NACEC) is the national representative organisation for community enterprise centres and coworking hubs in Ireland. Across over 120 communities, NACEC supports, promotes and develops the regional enterprise environment as they:
The new National Hub Network Manager will work alongside all local and regional enterprise hub managers, community, social and enterprise development leaders, local & national government, state agencies and academia to deliver balanced, sustainable and transformational change, growth and future proofing of the enterprise centre and coworking hub business model in Ireland to enable the sector to continue to accelerate economic recovery in all regions of the country by delivering on the potential of local and regional enterprise strengths.
The National Hub Network Manager will lead the delivery of NACEC’s Strategic Plan for the enterprise hub sector in Ireland, which was launched with the support of Minister Heather Humphreys in October 2019, and will work closely with the NACEC Board of Directors and local & national stakeholders / partners to support communities and regions with the impact and recovery challenges and opportunities presented by Covid-19.
As remote / flexible working and blended learning become ever more constant in our daily lives and routines it is important that the national hub infrastructure is ready to facilitate these new hybrid models by providing clean, safe and professionally managed services and facilities that can meet the requirements of a varied client base which might include Startups, SMEs, staff and executives from large Corporates or MNCs as well as public sector employees, social enterprises and education / training providers. Hubs need to be connected, flexible, highly adaptable and an important driver and facilitator of community and regional economic, enterprise and ecosystem development where structured learning, collaboration, innovation, diversity, inclusion and sustainability are core values that all stakeholders can embrace.
Location: Home, Hub & HQ
Contract Type: Full-time & Flexible
Contract Duration: 3 Year fixed term contract subject to 11 month probationary period
Reporting Structure: Reporting directly to the Board of Directors of NACEC clg.
Deadline for Applications: 19th October 2020
How To Apply: Email a CV and Cover Letter to [email protected]
(Only CVs and Cover Letters submitted directly to [email protected] will be considered or accepted)
This position is being part-funded under the governments
Regional Enterprise Development Fund (REDF) which is administered by
NACEC is an equal opportunities employer.
Focus on practical solutions includes resourcing of regional clusters, investment in digitisation and embracing sustainable practices
NACEC has set out an ambitious framework for a post-coronavirus recovery as community enterprise centres around the country begin to reopen following months of prolonged uncertainty.
The association’s National Impact + Recovery Action Plan plots a future that will see enterprise and co-working hubs positioned to provide professional working environments for a new army of remote workers seeking a blended approach to employment in the months and years ahead.
The newly published blueprint follows on from the comprehensive NACEC Impact + Recovery Survey published in May which laid bare the enormous disruption and devastating consequences caused to regional enterprise centres and co-working hubs by the Covid-19 shutdown.
But striking a more positive note, the research also highlighted the many opportunities presented for centres to provide responsive solutions to Irish businesses, large and small, particularly in the area of remote and flexible working.
The country’s enterprise hubs believe they can facilitate not only SME tenants in the future but potentially also large corporate and multinational firms, providing long-term solutions beyond the pandemic for businesses keen to support a more agile and flexible workforce in the years ahead.
The new National Impact + Recovery Action Plan has initiated 14 stimulus actions, grouped under five broad themes, which the association believes can revitalise enterprise centres and hubs, equipping them as changemakers in the new post-Covid world.
Embracing The Blend: The plan calls for dedicated support funding for the creation of enterprise centre cluster networks in each region, reducing duplications of marketing effort and accelerating technology advancement through the co-ordination of regional digitised booking systems.
Skills and talent mapping is considered vital and regional clusters will be encouraged to engage with local authorities, Regional Skills Fora, Enterprise Ireland and regional educators to undertake and update skills and talent mapping.
A think-tank of key players in remote and blended co-working will be brought together to devise policies on future-of-work possibilities and introducing the concept into both public and corporate consciousness.
A major requirement underpinning the entire initiative will be progressing a quality standards framework for enterprise centres in conjunction with the NSAI, Enterprise Ireland and others, resulting in an enterprise hub classification system.
Digitisation: Future-proofing digital capacity for enterprise centres is key to survival. With this in mind, a survey into enterprise centre digitisation and broadband connectivity is to be undertaken which will benchmark centres under headings which include wi-fi access, connectivity and security.
Training facilities and technology will be updated and training offerings digitised through migrating classroom training programmes to blended training programme delivery formats. Furthermore, centres will help overcome the digital divide by providing learning facilities for college students, digital education and training.
Specific opportunities have been highlighted for centres to provide regional pre-acceleration programmes, potentially unlocking the learning from the NDRC running acceleration programmes in the Portershed and Arc Labs.
There is also a role for centres to build on the work of partnerships with the self-employed and social enterprise sector.
Climate Action: The development of a Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) charter is envisaged to which each centre or hub will commit with a view to culture change and prioritising sustainability.
The delivery of an enterprise centre climate change programme is a further goal to mitigate future increases in operating and energy costs. A pilot programme for a cohort of centres will be developed as well as a practical guide for centres to help embed a healthier outlook.
Focus on Clusters: A Cluster Development Plan will be developed for each of the country’s six clusters with enterprise centre representation. The action plan seeks to kickstart building the capacity of clusters focused on regional recovery and trade, increased innovation, knowledge transfer and new value chains.
Financial Stimulus: While individual enterprise centres are struggling to maintain their viability in the face of the disruption caused by the pandemic, they continue to support thousands of entrepreneurs in navigating the crisis.
Enterprise hubs are positioned to provide both leadership and responsive solutions in safe working facilities, blended co-working and remote working facilities, social enterprise solutions and reskilling programmes; however, it is clear there is a need for direct financial supports to underpin survival and growth.
The new €12m fund launched by Enterprise Ireland and the Dept of Business, Enterprise & Innovation to ensure the future viability of the enterprise centre sector is a welcome development. For more information on the fund or to apply please CLICK HERE
Chairperson of NACEC, Gary O’Meara, said the overarching theme of the action plan is to future-proof the enterprise centre sector as it navigates change.
“Across Ireland, enterprise centres and hubs are working hard to devise tangible solutions that will safely and strategically get our centres back to work, and back to what we do best: enabling businesses, creating connected environments for working and co-working and acting as powerhouses of regional enterprise activity and job creation,” he said.
He added that centres and hubs are ideally positioned to provide a new blend of working, dubbed ‘Hub-Home-HQ’.
“For countless businesses, remote working practices will be part of their new normal – and regional hubs are positioned to provide structured, well-connected, professional working environments that are potentially less expensive than the equivalent area of office space.
“But this is not just about space – the creation of regional ecosystems and enterprise clusters that innovate quickly is as vital as premium workspaces,” Mr O’Meara said. “Covid-19 offers a chance to reset and reshape enterprise centres in a more sustainable way.”
Following the publication of May’s survey findings – which showed that almost 88% of centres reported a drop in income of between 21% and 80% and revealed that one-third of centres had seen tenants closing their businesses permanently – NACEC initiated a process of engagement with key stakeholders to focus on practical solutions to drive recovery.
Enterprise Centres / Hubs Covid-19 Impact & Recovery SURVEY – Click Here
Enterprise Centres / Hubs Covid-19 Impact & Recovery ACTION PLAN – Click Here
WORRYINGLY, BUSINESS SURVEY SHOWS A THIRD OF NATION’S ENTERPRISE CENTRES HAVE TENANTS WHO HAVE CLOSED PERMANENTLY
Thousands of empty places in remote working hubs available to assist multinationals, Irish SMEs and start-ups throughout smaller towns and rural Ireland post-pandemic.
Monday 18th May 2020
The most worrying business barometer snapshot to date into the State’s SME sector has emerged with the latest national business survey to emerge which shows the alarmingly troubled state of hundreds of small businesses in every county which have closed permanently or temporarily. The results show that while 84% of enterprise centres and remote working hubs have tenant business who have closed temporarily due to the pandemic, a worrying 33% have tenants who have shut down permanently according to the nationwide survey carried for the National Association of Community Enterprise Centres (NACEC) which promotes, supports and develops the community and regional enterprise sector.
However on a more optimistic note NACEC, which directly supported 1,800 businesses employing 5,500 people before the pandemic, found that their member enterprise centres, along with other hubs operating in the sector, could potentially have in excess of 10,000 vacant places for use in the form of hot desks, remote working spaces, digital labs, maker spaces, fab labs, kitchens and wet labs which can help generate a new generation of lean start-up companies and existing rural SMEs as well as be a significant and attractive resource for multinationals and the civil service to allow increased remote working opportunities for their employees.
NACEC have calculated it would take a dedicated fund of just €5m investment in the sector to help enterprise centres and co-working hubs to adapt their facilities / services to get their tenants / external clients back to work, and find more creative ways to support the communities they serve e.g. remote working for the wider community and deliver relevant services to their viable tenants / clients.
The survey also found that two-thirds of all centres are under pressure to provide tenant financial relief and worryingly one in seven still have inadequate broadband in place to enable remote working. Other key findings of the survey include the following as a result of the pandemic;
Gary O’Meara, Chairman of NACEC (and CEO of Meath Enterprise) said “We are ready to do our bit in assisting the country and its regions to support Irish business and create jobs post-pandemic. The current crisis has shown us that flexible working will rise in popularity and enterprise centres and hubs have already been to the fore in providing innovative and low threshold access to time-share facilities and office space as part of a post-COVID-19 restart and acceleration programme. Through combining access to space and equipment with specialist training and development programmes, they could support start-ups and SMEs with low-cost entrepreneurship business models and work more closely with remote-friendly corporates.”
“The crisis has brought remote working into the mainstream, and it increasingly accepted as a realistic proposition by many employers and employees who previously may not have been open to the workability of remote as a viable alternative. We see our case and offer strengthened in that regard. We envisage co-working will increase as businesses downsize to reduce costs. With home working establishing itself, we foresee city-based companies providing budgets for remote workers to find a desk close to home. However a small number of hubs are struggling to succeed and need financial support to offset the current drop in incomes,” he said.
ABOUT THE SURVEY
Our survey was conducted in the period 12th – 16th May 2020 and was completed by 87 representatives of enterprise centres/hubs all across Ireland.
Our national research study spans new and existing enterprise/technology centres, food/digital hubs, co-working / remote working hubs, college/university incubators in Ireland regardless of whether they are private, public (DACs and university hubs) or community-owned (CLGs), not-for-profits, social enterprises or NACEC members. The research received the active co-operation of key vested parties including:
Department of Business, Enterprise & Innovation
Enterprise Ireland + Local Enterprise Offices
Department of Rural & Community Development
Local Development Companies
Department of Housing Planning and Local Government
Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment
Western Development Commission
Teagasc – Agriculture & Food Development Authority
Atlantic Economic Corridor – AEC
Regional Enterprise Plan
Regional Skills Fora
National Standards Authority of Ireland – NSAI
Irish Research & Development Group – IRDG
Science Foundation Ireland – SFI
Telecommunications Software & Systems Group – TSSG
Irish Business & Employers Confederation – IBEC
Small Firms Association – SFI
Irish Rural Link
Enterprise centres not only generate a steady flow of new businesses (with above-average job and wealth creation potential in a region), they provide the facilities for future of work initiatives such as remote working and redeployment. Launched in late October 2019, the National Association for Community Enterprise Centres Strategic Plan set a primary benchmark for the impact of community enterprise centres. At that time, NACEC’s 120 members were supporting over 5,500 jobs in over 1,800 tenant businesses throughout the regions, with a wages contribution from these jobs put at €247.5 million per annum. Back then, our outlook was one of resilience in the face of Brexit, and 63% of centres had substantial capital investment or growth plans within the next two years, including the development of digital and co-working hubs.
Enterprise Centres are proven engines of entrepreneurship. Emerging in Ireland from the late 1970s, typically in areas of low employment and economic opportunity, they were founded through two approaches: – • Reactive approach – in response to poor local economic performance or specific incidents, e.g. loss of major employers with a mission and solutions to stimulate job growth • Proactive approach – in response to strengths and opportunities for regeneration and sector specialisation that are specific to their area
Entrepreneurship hubs, co-works, incubators and more, enterprise centres are best known for their provision of physical workspace to new and emerging businesses. Yet, enterprise centres are also prolific providers of formal and informal vocational education and provide community-based space to convene, cocreate and network. They offer tenants, early-stage entrepreneurs’ and their communities access to structured enterprise and social innovation training courses and enable networking and supportive environments which help individuals establish and develop their businesses. Moreover, they work hard to subsidise all of the above and deliver equitable regional development. They have long been identified as valuable sources of business support, especially in areas of low employment or low economic opportunity. They can best be judged for their ability to build entrepreneurial communities or ecosystems.
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