Our Rural Future - Connected Hubs Fund

Our Rural Future: Minister Humphreys announces €5 million Connected Hubs Fund

From Department of Rural and Community Development 

Closing date for applications: 17th June 2021

  • Fund to support development of Ireland’s first National Hub Network
  • Investment in hot-desks, office spaces and meeting rooms to promote remote working
  • Electric car charging points, upgrades to disability access and IT improvements also supported
  • Minister Humphreys: Fund represents key step towards making remote working a reality

Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, has launched a new five million euro fund to support the development of Ireland’s first national network of remote working hubs.

The Connected Hubs Fund will expand existing hub facilities, providing additional hot desks, office spaces and meeting rooms for remote working.

The funding will be used to install electric car charging points, upgrade disability access and improve IT facilities located within hubs or Broadband Connection Points (BCPs).

And it will also assist in making existing hubs more compliant with social distancing guidelines.

The Connected Hubs Fund will support the key objectives of Our Rural Future – the Government’s ambitious new five year policy for rural Ireland.

Our Rural Future recognises hubs and BCPs as ideal locations for people to work remotely, as well as acting as key economic assets for towns and villages.

This fund is a central part of the Government’s strategy to create a nationwide network of hubs that will be accessible via an online app.

Announcing the call for proposals for funding, Minister Humphreys said:

“Over the past 12 months, so many of us have experienced the benefits of remote working – reduced commutes, more time spent with your family, increased footfall in towns, a lower carbon footprint. As we emerge from this Pandemic, the Government is determined to make remote working a permanent reality for thousands of people. That’s why Our Rural Future contains a series of commitments ranging from incentives for workers to the redevelopment of old buildings as digital hubs. Today’s announcement of a €5 million fund will greatly assist in developing Ireland’s first ever National Hub Network.”

The Connected Hubs Fund will make our existing hubs bigger and more accessible and will result in a better quality experience for business people, workers and students. Crucially, this fund is another clear example of how this Government is embracing remote working as we exit this Pandemic. As Minister, I am determined that we do not let the opportunities posed by remote working to slip from our grasp. Hubs provide the perfect opportunity for people to embrace ‘blended working’. And by encouraging people to avail of a hot-desk or office space in their nearby hub, the local economy also benefits.

The National Hub Network Working Group led by the Department of Rural and Community Development has identified over 400 remote working hubs across the country.

Work is currently underway to map and survey the services offered by these hubs. This data will support the development of online services to support hub managers, including a publicly facing booking engine.

The Connected Hubs Call aims to add additional capacity to our current remote working infrastructure.

Funding will be available for both expansion and upgrade of existing facilities through works such as the installation of privacy booths, access control and security systems, the conversion of existing open plan space to modular offices, and provision of enhanced audio visual, network and conferencing facilities. The call will also fund innovative measures to assist hubs to deal with COVID-related challenges.

The Connected Hubs Call is open to applications from all existing hubs and BCPs throughout the Country. This Fund represents a real opportunity to leverage remote working infrastructure to transform how the people of Ireland work and live.

Find out more about the Connected Hubs Fund: here.

The Connected Hub Call is open to existing remote working hubs and Broadband Connection Points which wish to offer remote working services.

Capital Grants provided will range from €10,000 to €250,000 and will support projects that improve the quality and impact of the service the hub offer such as:

  • Expansion of existing remote working infrastructure.
  • Installation of privacy booths in existing hubs.
  • Installation of access control and security systems.
  • Conversion of existing open plan space to modular offices.
  • Audio Visual upgrade facilities.
  • Building Control Systems.
  • Energy Efficiency Upgrades.
  • Electric Car Charging Points.
  • Disability Access Upgrading
  • Upgrade of meeting rooms.
  • Upgrade of external signage.
  • IT Network upgrades, wiring, access points and a secure control system.
  • Innovative measures to assist existing hubs to deal with COVID-related challenges.
  • Promotion & marketing campaigns to raise awareness of improvements made to drive increased hub usage