€2 million investment for Laois low carbon innovation centre

Laois TD and Minister for Justice announces funding under Regional Enterprise Development Fund

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

Local elections

Laois County Council County Hall Portlaoise

A centre to nurture new business and create up to 260 jobs in Laois which have a low carbon emphasis is set to benefit from a €2 million cash injection.

Laois TD and Minister for Justice & Equality, Charlie Flanagan has announced the allocation of €2,050,560 for The Cube at the Portlaoise Innovation Centre.

In a statement, Minister Flanagan said the Portlaoise Innovation Centre DAC proposes to facilitate the creation of a Low Carbon Centre of Excellence. He said  ‘The Cube’ is a multi-point incubation hub for the development of a Low Carbon Centre of Excellence, assisting in attracting and developing companies with a low carbon focus. He added that Portlaoise town has been designated as Ireland’s first ‘Low Carbon Town’.

“This project is at the cutting edge of innovation. I am confident that it will have the potential to make a real and lasting impact on enterprise development at county, regional and national level. The Cube will specialise in bespoke professional services and training programmes tailored to align with the requirements of disparate sectors for which there is currently minimal advice or service available.

“The Regional Enterprise Development Fund is about supporting every region to build on its unique strengths and ultimately create sustainable jobs. Collaboration is at its core – among the public and private sectors, within and across regions.

“I want to congratulate John Mulholland, CEO Laois County Council, Laois LEO and Enterprise Centre and am very pleased that the Regional Enterprise Development Fund is getting behind projects in Laois," he said.

Laois County Council says The Cube will be the first dedicated low carbon facility in the region and will support and stimulate the creation of 260 jobs over the next 10 years.

The council describes said the "multi-point incubation hub" will cost €2.56 million with the balance of funding to be provided by Laois County Council and other partners. 

Located on Church Street overlooking the old fort of Maryborough, the council says The Cube will assist in bringing vibrancy back into that area of the town and will form part of Laois County Council’s overall plans for the regeneration of Portlaoise. 

It says the centre will act as a catalyst in supporting the adaptation and development of industry to meet the targets under  Climate Action 2040. The local authority adds that The Cube will encourage business and industry in the region to analyse their operations in a manner that will increase efficiency and ultimately lead to sustainable employment and competitive advantage. 


Laois County Council Cathaoirleach Cllr Willie Aird believes Portlaoise is suited to such a facility. 

"Portlaoise is the ideal location for this new centre which will be of significant benefit to the region, attracting companies seeking to deliver innovation and employment under the low carbon agenda," he said.

John Mulholland, Chief Executive of Laois County Council also welcomed the announcement.

“The CUBE will act as a focal point for the development of new business and economic activity and  in turn will support and assist a transition to a low carbon economy. This is a new and challenging concept in business development not alone for the Portlaoise area but also in a national and international context,” he said.

The funding for the Portlaoise centre is part of the €40 million Regional Enterprise Development Fund which aims to support regional development with funding provided by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, through Enterprise Ireland.

Enteprise Ireland, the agency that helps Irish firms that want to create export markets, said twenty-six successful applicants representing all regions of the country will share out the funding.

It said winners were selected through a rigorous evaluation process based on criteria which included impacts and value for money, collaboration and participation, viability and sustainability, building regional strengths and significance for innovation.

Apart from the enterprise innovation hub, Enterprise Ireland said the National Design Innovation Hub’s rural entrepreneurship project-based in Carlow and Laois was also awarded over €300,000.

Enterprise Ireland Regional Director in the Midlands, Michael Brougham spoke following the announcement.

“The Regional Enterprise Development Fund helps Ireland to further drive growth in projects across a variety of sectors including creative industries and technology, particularly in the context of Brexit and other global trade challenges.

“The new project at the Portlaoise Innovation Hub will help accelerate the creation of innovative, regional based startups and companies that have the ambition and potential to expand in global markets which is a key strategic focus of Enterprise Ireland.

“This essential space already provides access to many of the services that are required to incubate a business, build scale and create sustainable jobs across Laois. The Enterprise Ireland, Regional Enterprise Development Fund is a core feature of our Powering the Regions plan which was published in 2019 and the project will make a real contribution to the development of the county.

“Enterprise Ireland looks forward to seeing the difference that this funding will make on the ground as the team in Portlaoise set about further developing the low carbon hub,” he said.