QHubs – the new national Quality Standards Framework for Ireland’s enterprise hub, co-working and remote working sector

A new national Quality Standards Framework for Ireland’s enterprise hub, co-working and remote working sector is now in place.

The first of its kind in the world, the new framework provides a professional standard for the 350+ enterprise hub, co-working and remote working locations nationwide that play a pivotal role in supporting startups, SMEs, multinationals and remote workers across the public and private sectors.

Entitled QHubs, the overarching aim of the new quality standard is to raise the overall quality, environmental and innovative performance of the sector, due to the ISO standards the framework is grounded in, and ensure the national hub network continues to support the realisation of a sustainable and balanced regional development model for Ireland.

The development of the QHubs framework was overseen by a National Steering Committee, chaired by Minister Damien English TD, Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment, was funded by Enterprise Ireland and managed and co-ordinated by the Community Enterprise Association Ireland.

Committee members included 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 were appointed to design and deliver the project.

When a location signs up to the new QHubs Standard, they will go through the following process to achieve their quality standards status:

  • Engage in an ‘Innovation and Quality Diagnostic’ process to define their current status based on their strategic purpose, size, capacity and occupancy as well as services and facilities available. This ranges from Level 1, which is a local community hub that provides good quality and affordable workspaces, shared services and networking opportunities, to Level 4, which offers more regional, national and international collaborations, shared learning and peer to peer opportunities, and market access for client companies that want to scale globally.
  • With assistance from a dedicated mentor, each participant will identify their desired ambitions and goals, such as how to add value to the facility for client companies via improved services, products, experiences and upgrading business model and processes used. This offers an opportunity for locations to move up through the ranking system from Level 1 to 4, if that is their desired ambition.
  • A customised ‘Growth Pathway’ will be developed to help each participating location work towards their targets, as well as access to the support required to achieve this. This Growth Pathway is verified by an external independent party.
  • Annually all hubs will be measured and their progress benchmarked, with an external verification party reviewing progress in line with their Growth Pathway. To facilitate this, a range of KPI’s will be set in a variety of areas such as:
    • Quality, Environmental and Innovative performance
    • Community & Network
    • Customer Experience
    • Digitisation
    • Job Creation
  • As well as having access to a host of best-in-class resources, managers and team members of each location will be invited to engage in a free 12-week management and innovation preparatory programme delivered by Skillnet Ireland. This will involve webinars, master classes and workshops and is designed to meet the ongoing training, mentoring and learning support needs of the managers and staff across the national network
  • An annual Benchmarking Report of the sector, broken down by county, region and sector, will be shared with all participants, while an annual Award Ceremony will take place to recognise growth and performance achievements as well as share best practice learning

This Quality Standards Framework initiative is a key deliverable of the Community Enterprise Association Ireland Strategic Plan 2019-21 and is also one of the key actions to be delivered as part of the CEAI Regional Transformation Programme which is being supported under the Regional Enterprise Development Fund.