The government have announced over €8.8 million in funding under the Connected Hubs Scheme – a key deliverable of Our Rural Future.

The funding will enable existing hubs and broadband connection points to enhance and add capacity to remote working infrastructure in every region across Ireland.

Grants will also fund measures to assist hubs to deal with COVID related challenges.

The funding will benefit 117 projects and will support a wide range of relevant works nationwide including the expansion of existing hubs,  installation of privacy booths, access control and security systems, the conversion of existing open plan space to modular offices, and provision of enhanced audio visual, networking and conferencing facilities.

This investment will support the ongoing development of the recently launched National Hub Network – connectedhubs.ie – which already has more than 100 hubs using the platform and 380 hubs mapped.

The supports delivered through this network will help build on the fantastic asset Ireland already has in its connected working ecosystem.

Included in the funding announced is:

  • €2.8m to develop remote working infrastructure in the Eastern and Midland region
  • €3m to develop remote working infrastructure in the North-West region
  • €3m to develop remote working infrastructure in the Southern region

Announcing the successful projects in Carlow today, Minister Humphreys said:

Our Rural Future recognises hubs as ideal locations for people to work remotely, as well as acting as key economic assets for towns and villages.

The increased shift to remote working as a result of the pandemic has provided a golden opportunity for a greater regional distribution of jobs to support a better work life balance for many people.

This opportunity is reflected in Our Rural Future and in policy initiatives across the whole of Government, such as Making Remote Work, the National Remote Working strategy.

The investment announced today will provide an increased number of families and individuals with the option to live and work in our rural communities.  Remote working from hubs and Broadband Connection Points benefitting from this funding will also support local economies and assist in reducing our carbon emissions.”

Examples of successful projects include:

  • €250,000 for an Údarás na Gaeltachta to upgrade 10 existing Gteic hubs in Galway, Mayo & Donegal. This investment will build capacity and support the further consolidation and development of the Gteic Network and allow it to contribute to the ongoing development of the National Hub Network.
  • €180,000 for the development of existing hubs in Cavan, Monaghan & Louth. This project will develop a network of small & medium sized affordable and accessible hubs which will expand remote working capacity in the region & aid development of the National Hub Network
  • €239,000 for Co. Galway Broadband Connection Points. This investment will develop and expand remote working capacity in 8 BCPs throughout the County. This will represent a significant addition in capacity for the region. As a part of this investment remote working facilities on 2 offshore islands in particular have the potential to significantly benefit the local economy and community.

Full details of the 117 projects approved for funding by the Minister under the Connected Hubs Scheme are available here

The National Hub Network Working Group led by the Department of Rural and Community Development has so far identified and mapped 380 remote working hubs across the country. These hubs will be invited to join the Connected Hubs Network to create shared infrastructure that will deliver real benefits across the country.

The recently launched ConnectedHubs.ie platform offers a suite of booking, hub management and e-commerce applications to members of the Network. The Network will also facilitate the sharing of innovation, experience and best practices across the community. These supports will serve to maximise benefit to member hubs, hub clients, employers, local communities and the wider economy.

Membership of the Connected Hubs Network is open to all existing and new hubs who wish to offer remote working services.

The following initiatives will be developed through this initiative;

  • A Shared Connected Hubs brand identity for all member hubs
  • A Centralised Connected Hubs media and promotional campaigns
  • Access to the ConnectedHubs.ie suite of booking, hub management and e-commerce applications.
  • Development of a Peer-to-Peer Hub Community
  • Sharing of Innovation, Experience and Best-Practices within the community
  • Developing a shared quality standard for hubs in the Network
  • Supporting collaborative projects in the Network to drive economies of scale
  • Developing a ‘shared voice’ for Connected Hubs
  • Supporting collective engagement between Connected Hubs and large scale employers
  • Supporting collective engagement between Connected Hubs and Government Agencies
  • Helping to identify the benefits Connected Hubs deliver for their local communities and the wider economy
  • Developing a dataset to inform future investment decisions in remote working facilities
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