Government commits €180m to boost regional development up to 2024

18 Feb 2022

Leo Varadkar at a Brookings event in 2018. Image: Brookings Institution/ Paul Morigi via Flickr

Eight projects in Limerick, Clare and Tipperary are the first to receive funding under this new regional initiative, with €16m allocated.

The Irish Government has announced €180m in funding to boost regional development across Ireland in the coming years through nine enterprise plans.

These Regional Enterprise Plans were announced today (18 February) by Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar, TD, with Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail Damien English, TD, and Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation Robert Troy, TD.

The funding is designed to generate projects that will create new jobs and help companies grow. The first region being focused on is the mid-west, with eight projects in Clare, Tipperary and Limerick receiving €16m in funding.

These projects are being funded under the Regional Enterprise Development Fund and the Regional Enterprise Transition Scheme (RETS), which launched last July. Under the RETS, €9.3m was allocated to 24 regional projects across the country last October to support start-ups and SMEs and help them recover from the pandemic and the disruption caused by Brexit.

“One of my priorities as Minister for Enterprise is to have 2.5m people employed in the country by 2024,” Varadkar said. “We want these to be good, long-term jobs in every county. We’ve developed nine, region-specific plans to do this and are investing up to €180m to aid their implementation.

“We want this to be a bottom-up approach, led by the local community, as they know what’s best for their area. We’ve chosen the mid-west for the first one, and the remainder will be launched over the coming weeks,” Varadkar added.

The projects being funded in the mid-west include a bioeconomy innovation facility, a digital collaboration centre, aerospace cluster development sites, a co-working site and a location focused on maritime training and field research support.

“The mid-west plan concentrates on measures to encourage innovation, focus on sustainability, enable enterprise growth in the region’s city, towns and rural communities, and on increasing economic activity for local start-ups, microbusinesses and SMEs,” English said.

“The funding of up to €180m announced today will allow all regions in Ireland to pursue their plans and I look forward to working with everyone involved to deliver on their ambition.”

The nine regional plans were developed last year by regional steering committees. These committees are chaired by a senior figure from the private sector. They also include representatives from organisations such as Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, Local Enterprise Offices, local authorities and higher education bodies.

The Regional Enterprise Plans set out actions until 2024, each with agreed strategic objectives such as sustainability, digitisation, supporting start-ups and developing enterprise in rural areas. The plans are also designed to complement Our Rural Future, a five-year plan to invest in rural regions after the pandemic, which was announced last year.

The Government is planning education, training and skills initiatives to support each of the objectives, with an overall goal to grow regional capacity.

Last October, the Government launched a renewed version of the National Development Plan for the years 2021 to 2030, committing to long-term investment in almost every sector, including a Green Transition Fund for businesses.

Leo Varadkar at a Brookings event in 2018. Image: Brookings Institution/Paul Morigi via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Don’t miss out on the knowledge you need to succeed. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of need-to-know sci-tech news.

Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic