National Broadband Ireland (NBI), the company delivering the National Broadband Plan (NBP), has announced its partnership with RISE Global Foundation, to support rural communities.

RISE Global Foundation is a privately funded foundation launched last year to empower businesses and social enterprises across rural Ireland, by combining technology with an entrepreneurial mindset.

The partnership sees the launch of the RISE Community Fund supported by NBI, and is set to award grants to empower local businesses, community groups and social enterprises to enhance their digital strategies.

Funding support for rural communities

Established by NBI chairman and technology entrepreneur, David McCourt, RISE will begin the fund with five monthly grants of €1000 to businesses, community groups or social enterprises.

The fund offers an immediate cash injection into local communities seeking to boost their digital ecosystems.

David McCourt said: “At NBI, we’re on a mission to connect every man, woman and child in the country, who doesn’t have access to high-speed broadband, to a world-class, superfast network.

“But we recognise that whilst connectivity is a vital utility and a critical first step, it alone can’t solve all of the challenges for businesses, community groups and social enterprises trying to expand their operations and accelerate the positive impact they’re able to have – both to the local community, and to the wider economy.

“This is why we’re launching the RISE Community Fund supported by NBI to provide grants specifically aimed at enhancing people’s plans to use technology in creative and exciting ways to deliver maximum impact.”

Infrastructure for local areas

The RISE Community Fund supported by NBI is a national programme that will follow the progress being made in NBI’s ambitious programme building out the infrastructure for the National Broadband Plan.

Peter Hendrick, CEO of NBI, said: “We’re starting off the fund by inviting applications across our first deployment areas. First up is Carrigaline and the surrounding townlands, which will soon be followed up by Cavan and then Dundalk in the coming weeks.

“Every month we’ll open this up to other areas around the country in line with our rollout.

“In total, our team is working in 227 Deployment Areas, so the size and scale of our ambitions with the RISE Community Fund will quickly grow and bring tremendous benefits all across Ireland.”

Minister for Rural and Community Development and Social Protection Heather Humphreys said: “I welcome the launch of the RISE Community Fund, which will provide support to community groups, social enterprises and local businesses in rural Ireland.

“It is essential that rural communities are provided with the support they need to not just function, but to thrive, and this announcement is a welcome development in this area.”

Small businesses, community groups and social enterprises with plans to use technology to scale their operations and bring tangible benefits to their local communities are encouraged to apply for funding.