The expansion of existing hubs and investment in new technologies will be funded as part of a Government strategy to boost remote working in rural Ireland.
Remote working in rural Ireland received a massive boost today (22 July) in the form of an €8.8m investment across 117 remote working projects in every region of the country.
It includes a wide variety of investments such as expanding existing digital hubs, installing privacy booths, access control and security systems, converting existing open-plan space to modular offices and providing enhanced technological facilities
The funding was announced by Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys, TD, under the Connected Hub Scheme.
It is a key element of the Government’s five-year strategy Our Rural Future, which promises to invest in rural areas post-pandemic, with a particular focus on enabling remote working, revitalising town centres and rolling out broadband.
‘The shift to remote working has provided a golden opportunity for a greater regional distribution of jobs to support a better work-life balance for many people’
– HEATHER HUMPHREYS, TD
The €8.8m investment announced today will go towards existing hubs and broadband connection points and will add capacity to remote working infrastructure all across Ireland. Some grants will also support measures to help hubs with Covid-related issues.
This investment will also support the ongoing development of the recently launched National Hub Network, which went live earlier this year with the aim of making remote working more accessible across the country.
It currently has more than 100 hubs using the platform with 380 hubs mapped. This platform offers booking, hub management and e-commerce applications to its members. The network also allows the sharing of new ideas, experiences and best practices across its community.
The grants range from €10,000 to €250,000. Investment will include €2.8m for the eastern and midland regions, and €3m each for the north-west and southern regions.
“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,” said Humphreys
“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.”
Successful projects include €250,000 for Údarás na Gaeltachta to upgrade 10 existing Gteic hubs in Galway, Mayo and Donegal. Gteic facilities provide digital hubs in Gaelteacht areas and are operated on a collaborative basis with the local community in these areas.
There is also €180,000 for the development of existing hubs in Cavan, Monaghan and Louth that will create a network of small and medium-sized hubs and expand current capacity.
“I am particularly delighted that the projects approved today will support the ongoing development of the National Hub Network,” said Humphreys.
“With almost 400 remote working hubs already identified and mapped on connectedhubs.ie, this network will continue to grow and develop over the coming months and years and I would urge all existing and new hubs to become members and take advantage of the ongoing supports which the network will provide.”