My Department through Enterprise Ireland has approved funding totalling €59.5 million to 42 projects under the Regional Enterprise Development Fund to date. On 24 June last I announced Call 3 of this Fund with an additional allocation of €45m.
The MERITS hub is one of the projects funded under Call 1 of this initiative announced in December 2017. The Mid East Regional Innovation Think Space (MERITS) is a new build project to cluster Irish and international new-technology companies and provide mentorship and support in Naas, County Kildare. The project is supported by strong collaboration with Kildare County Council, Maynooth University/ MaynoothWorks, Kildare Chamber and the 3 Mid East LEOs (Kildare, Meath & Wicklow).
Enterprise Ireland has been informed that the build completion date for the MERITS hub is estimated to be October 2020, with the occupation date estimated to be during the period November to December 2020. The MERITS hub has reported a strong local demand for office space of this nature especially given the lack of such infrastructure in the locality.
I launched the new Regional Enterprise Plan for the Mid-East region, which covers Kildare, Meath and Wicklow, on the 7th February last in Naas. It is focused on four Strategic Objectives, specifically: developing the Screen Content Creation Sector, developing innovative co-working spaces, supporting the agri-food sector and ensuring the availability of skills and talent.
Within the Mid-East Regional Enterprise Plan there is a focus on the creation of at least 10 Hubs/co-working spaces based on the MERITS model. Plans are progressing for additional hubs in Co. Kildare, Co. Meath and Co. Wicklow.