Athenry’s BIA innovator campus aims to support farmers
BIA Innovator Campus, the multi-million euro food innovation hub in Athenry, took a step forward with its construction contract agreed and signed with Glenman Construction Corporation Ltd on Tuesday, December 17. It is expected to open in 2021.
BIA Innovator Campus aims to transform the food entrepreneurship landscape in the west of Ireland. The objective is to create more than 360 jobs in over 40 businesses across the region, providing facilities to help the food industry in the west through support, learning and collaboration.
It sets out to address the need for regional food workspace infrastructure by providing a food and drink innovation and incubation centre of scale at 29,000ft².
It will comprise nine independent own-door starter/growth units; three independent own-door HPSU growth units; and four co-working food incubators – dairy, meat, seafood and multi-product – said to be a first in Ireland – backed by a mix of technical, innovation and commercial support.
Significant employment opportunities
Peter Feeney, chairman of BIA Innovator Campus CLG, said that he was delighted to see the project move to the construction phase.
“This is a project of national significance and the food hub will fill a void in the western region, allowing the development of innovative added value food products becoming central to rural development and a sustainable agricultural sector,” he said.
This project will support our farmers, producers and chefs to grow with the correct facilities, training and advice to bolster our wonderful communities in the west of Ireland.
“As chairman, I would like to thank the partners in this exciting venture – both the department of community and rural development, and the department of business, enterprise and innovation – for funding this project and especially the board members who have given their time and expertise to get us to where we are today.”
Speaking at the signing, Alan Farrell, director of services with Galway County Council and director of BIA Innovator Campus CLG, said they were happy to be now in the delivery phase.
The BIA Innovator Campus, he said, will create significant employment opportunities providing hundreds of new jobs in the region; ensure essential training and development to meet the needs of industry; and address infrastructural gaps by providing access to the latest food technology.
“This innovation-driven environment with incubation and growth units will deliver rural regeneration throughout the west of Ireland,” said Alan.
The project is also part of wider proposals for the regeneration of Athenry which will involve the enhancement of the public realm; the development of tourism opportunities; enhancement of shopfronts; and the development of close links between the campus and wider town.
“The aim is to ensure that businesses are supported at the start-up stage, and provide a growth continuum to enable them to scale up and enter new markets. With Brexit on the horizon, this investment is tailored to meet the needs and address the challenges the private sector face,” he said.
“The BIA Innovator Campus is an excellent example of collaborative working, involving all stakeholders from the public, private, community and education sectors.
“The project builds on the work the council has been doing for a number of years involving a wide range of partners and is a legacy project from Galway, West of Ireland European Region of Gastronomy 2018 designation.”
The strength of the project, Alan said, was borne out of the success of a strong collaboration and a vision for developing the food entrepreneurship in the west of Ireland.
“Galway County Council, as the local authority with responsibility for local economic development, facilitated the bringing together of partners at a local and national level including surrounding local authorities and local enterprise offices. This was coupled with the shared vision of Teagasc in its role as the national food and agriculture development authority.”
The two main partners, working closely with the Galway Roscommon Education and Training Board (GRETB), Athenry Community Council, SCCUL and Western Development Commission, delivered the project to construction phase.
For more information on the Bia Innovator Campus visit: www.biainnovatorcampus.ie.