Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys has today (Thursday, April 29) launched a new €5 million 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).

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

Our Rural Future

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

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.

“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.

“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.”

Capital grants for remote working hubs

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 is open to applications from all existing hubs and BCPs throughout the country.

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 hubs offer.