April 1st, 2021

Chaired by Minister Damien English TD, Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment, the inaugural meeting of the National Steering Committee for the development of a Quality Standards System and Framework for Ireland’s enterprise hub sector took place this week.

The National Steering Committee, which will be managed and coordinated by NACEC, has been assembled to oversee the project and support collaboration and alignment between the key stakeholders. Committee members include senior officials from Enterprise Ireland; IDA Ireland; the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI); the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment, the Western Development Commission; the Regional Enterprise Plans Programme and the County & City Managers Association (CCMA). Independent consultants Dolmen Design & Innovation have been appointed to design and deliver the project which will help to provide a connected and professional structure to a national hubs infrastructure that already plays a pivotal role in supporting startups, SMEs, multinationals and remote workers from across the public and private sectors.

Speaking to committee members, Minister Damien English TD said ‘this project is timely and fits in with Government’s ambitions under our renewed Regional Enterprise Plans and the ‘Our Rural Future’ strategy which was announced earlier this week. It sets out a pathway to develop a national network of enterprise centres and coworking hubs that will support the realisation of a sustainable regional development model for Ireland. NACEC’s plans are important in improving work-life-balance, will support environmental sustainability and facilitates balanced economic development – all of which are important strategic and policy objectives for this government as we work towards a post pandemic jobs-led recovery’.

The Quality Standards for Hubs project is a key deliverable of the NACEC Strategic Plan 2019-21 which was launched by Minister Heather Humphreys in October 2019. The project is also one of the key actions to be delivered as part of the NACEC Regional Transformation Programme which is being supported under the Regional Enterprise Development Fund. Once completed it will be the first of its kind in the world and this presents a great opportunity for Ireland post Covid.

Mark Christal, Manager of Regions and Entrepreneurship at Enterprise Ireland said ‘we want to continue developing and improving the capability and effectiveness of the national hubs infrastructure with the end user in mind and that means adapting to the changing needs of our clients and customers and being more creative, collaborative and ambitious. The development of this new Quality Standards System for Ireland’s Enterprise Hub sector presents an real opportunity for Ireland to position itself as a world class destination for remote working, startup ecosystem, SME and community enterprise development, clustering and innovation and we are delighted to be funding and supporting this fantastic initiative’.

To conclude, Gary O’Meara, Chairperson of NACEC and CEO of Meath Enterprise said ‘I think a hybrid or blended approach to flexible working is the future where people from across the public and private sectors will be able to work from home and hub and possibly the office when really necessary. The challenge for hubs is to be ready to facilitate this new hybrid working model by providing clean, safe and professionally managed services and facilities that can meet the requirements of a varied client base which might include Startups, SMEs, staff and executives from large Corporates or MNCs as well as public sector employees, social enterprises and education / training providers. 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 that this new quality standards for hubs project, with the support of this National Steering Committee, can help make these new future of work opportunities a reality’.

– ENDS –

NOTE FOR EDITORS

The National Association of Community Enterprise Centres (NACEC) is the leading community network of enterprise, digital, sectoral and co-working locations across Ireland.  With over 120 members, NACEC was formed in 2008, building on the foundation of earlier regional community enterprise centre networks.

NACEC’s Strategic Plan for the community enterprise sector in Ireland was launched by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment in late 2019.  At the core of the strategy are five strategic goals and a number of accompanying actions, including the rollout of a quality standards framework for enterprise centres and remote working hubs.

Enterprise Ireland’s Regional Enterprise Development Fund 2017 – 2020 forms part of an overarching strategy by the national government to support regional enterprise development. This Regional Competitive Fund aims to support significant regional initiatives which build upon sectoral strengths and/or to better leverage identified resources to improve enterprise capability.

The Regional Co-Working Analysis – which was prepared by the three Regional Assemblies of Ireland in 2020 – found that 387,000 private sector workers are capable of operating remotely in Ireland.

National Steering Committee Members

  • Minister Damien English TD (Committee Chairperson), Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment
  • Gary O’Meara, Executive Director (Chairperson) at NACEC / CEO at Meath Enterprise (Project Manager)
  • Siobhán Finn, National Hub Network Manager at NACEC (Project Coordinator)
  • Sean McNulty, Director (Chairperson) at Dolmen (Lead Project Consultant)
  • Mark Christal, Manager of Regions & Entrepreneurship at Enterprise Ireland
  • Colm O’Neill, Assistant Principal at the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment – Regional Enterprise Plans & Initiatives
  • Tomás Ó Síocháin, CEO at the Western Development Commission (WDC)
  • Des Foley, Director of Services at Meath County Council and member of the County & City Managers Association (CCMA) – Business, Enterprise, Innovation, Urban/Town Economic Renewal (BEIUER)
  • Geraldine Larkin, CEO at the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI)
  • Conor Simpson, Regional Manager at IDA Ireland
  • Sarah Morgan, Programme Manager for the Midlands Regional Enterprise Plan / Planning Policy & Research, Officer at Laois, Longford, Offaly & Westmeath Local Authorities

 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION

Siobhán Finn, National Hub Network Manager @ NACEC

Tel: 353 86 287 2286 | Email: siobhan@nacec.ie

Gary O Meara, Chairperson @ NACEC | CEO Meath Enterprise

Tel: 353 87 222 2306 | gary@meathenterprise.ie