95 enterprise centres across the country will receive between €10,000 and €150,000 in grants under an Enterprise Ireland scheme.
The Enterprise Centres Fund from Enterprise Ireland will grant a total of €8.24m in funding to hubs around the country, with 95 enterprise centres receiving grants between €10,000 and €150,000.
Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar, TD, said the funding will be made available through his department with the aim of modernising the centres’ facilities and making health and safety improvements as a result of Covid-19.
Recent analysis of the sector showed that 88pc of centres in Ireland reported a drop of income of between 21pc and 80pc as many of their entrepreneur tenants struggled to keep their own businesses afloat during the pandemic. More than 83pc found that tenants had temporarily closed their offices, while 33pc of centres said tenants had shuttered their businesses permanently.
Welcoming the funding announcement, Gary O’Meara, chair of the National Association of Community Enterprise Centres (NACEC), said: “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.”
With new social distancing requirements in place, O’Meara added that enterprise hubs and co-working spaces are in an ideal position to provide a new “hub-home-HQ” model and help companies find new ways of working.
Enterprise Ireland CEO Julie Sinnamon said that 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 said.
According to the NACEC Strategic Plan 2019-2021 launched last year, its enterprise hub members supported more than 5,500 jobs in more than 1,800 businesses, with a salary contribution to the economy of €247.5m per year.