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Enterprise hubs to open doors to multinationals

Centres have been hit by SME closures and are now seeking new business

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"There are potentially 10,000 spaces available in the nation's enterprise centres and remote-working hubs," said Gary O'Meara, chairman of the National Association of Community Enterprise Centres (NACEC). Photo: David Conachy

"There are potentially 10,000 spaces available in the nation's enterprise centres and remote-working hubs," said Gary O'Meara, chairman of the National Association of Community Enterprise Centres (NACEC). Photo: David Conachy

"There are potentially 10,000 spaces available in the nation's enterprise centres and remote-working hubs," said Gary O'Meara, chairman of the National Association of Community Enterprise Centres (NACEC). Photo: David Conachy

Enterprise centres could open their doors to remote workers from multinational firms to give them access to key facilities.

The plan would allow the country's enterprise hubs replace SME tenants that are going out of business due to the impact of the pandemic.

Business Minister Heather Humphreys has given her backing to the plan, which would bring new business to more than 200 State-backed enterprise hubs throughout the country.

"There are potentially 10,000 spaces available in the nation's enterprise centres and remote-working hubs," said Gary O'Meara, chairman of the National Association of Community Enterprise Centres (NACEC), which is leading the plan.

"Facilities available include everything from desk spaces, digital lab spaces, wet labs, kitchens, meeting rooms and wifi. Many people are now finding that working at home comes with big limitations so this could be a very welcome opportunity for many companies and their workers. It's a win-win for everyone."

A business barometer survey at the centres by NACEC, which promotes, supports and develops the community and regional enterprise sector, found 33pc of them had tenants which had shut down permanently. NACEC has calculated the plan would require €5m investment in the sector to help enterprise centres and co-working hubs to adapt their facilities and services, particularly to social-distancing requirements. O'Meara said this investment would likely have to come from Government and that further discussions with the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation would take place next week.

O'Meara said the plan had the potential to provide long-term solutions beyond the pandemic and could be a boost for local communities.

John O'Dea, chief executive of Tech Ireland, which represents many large multinational employers, expressed support for the emerging plan.

"Enabling people to work closer to where they live can have positive and long-term sustainable benefits for the environment, rural regeneration and the health and well-being of our employees, so utilising the national enterprise hub infrastructure to support the future of flexible working is an exciting project that we are delighted to be supporting," he said.

Humphreys said that her department "has awarded considerable funding to support the development of a national network of enterprise, technology and co-working hubs throughout Ireland and I believe NACEC and the wider enterprise hub network is well placed to support our multinationals, large corporates and SMEs with their remote and flexible working requirements after the pandemic".

Sunday Indo Business