The role of an Enterprise Centre?

Enterprise centres nationally support start-ups, micro-enterprises and small business by providing physical accommodation to companies plus delivery of capability building supports to their tenants, and their local business community, through the provision of structured enterprise training courses. These centres also provide physical space for future work initiatives, such as, remote working. In providing these services, enterprise centres are critical regional infrastructures supporting entrepreneurship, start-up companies and small enterprise to grow and scale.

Enterprise Centres are operated both as not-for-profit and for-profit entities. Enterprise Ireland has invested over €160 million in not-for-profit Enterprise Centres under several schemes, including the Regional Enterprise Development Fund, the Border Enterprise Development Fund, the Community Enterprise Centre Schemes and the Community Enterprise Initiative Scheme since 1999.

Defining the Impact of COVID-19 on Enterprise Centres

Enterprise centres derive income not alone from renting accommodation space to companies but also by delivering their core activities in the form of co-working facilities, training programmes, hot desking, coaching/mentoring and other business-related activities/events. According to the National Association of Community Enterprise Centres’ COVID-19 Impact and Recovery Survey, 87% of member centres have reported a drop in income of between 21% – 80%. In addition, 33% of tenants in member centres have closed permanently.

The impact of reduced income for enterprise centres has been exacerbated further by increased operational costs.

Rationale for State Intervention to Support Enterprise Centres

Against the backdrop of COVID-19, enterprise centres will continue to have a key role in supporting enterprise and contributing to economic recovery at a regional level. Their reduced income and increased operational costs resulting from Covid 19, for most centres, impacts their ability to deliver on this. Without financial support many of these centres will not be in a position to support companies rebuild and recover after the impact of COVID-19, or to face the challenges and opportunities emerging from Brexit and transition to a low carbon economy.

Summary of the Powering the Regions – Enterprise Centre Fund

Purpose: The purpose of the Powering the Regions – Enterprise Centres Fund is to provide financial support to eligible enterprise centres who have been impacted by COVID-19 as follows:

  • evidence of a minimum net loss of 15 per cent to the business of the applicant entity between 2019 and 2020.

Objective: The objective of the Powering the Regions – Enterprise Centres Fund is to provide eligible enterprise centres with financial support for the implementation of a 6 to 12 – month Recovery Plan. This plan should have the objective of strengthening the underlying viability of the centre to enable it to continue to deliver value added supports to their client companies.

The 6 to 12 – month Recovery Plan should detail:

  • The funding assistance sought;
    The expenditure for which the financial support is required;
  • How the funding support will underpin the centres return to viability over the next 12 to 24 months; and
  • How the Recovery Plan will support the enterprise centres’ client companies to recover and rebuild.

Funding available

Eligible enterprise centres can apply for funding of a minimum amount of €10,000 and up to a maximum amount of €150,000. Funding will be administered in the form of grant aid of up to 80 per cent of eligible costs detailed in the Recovery Plan. Applicants for funding will need to demonstrate the ability to finance the balance of funding required to implement the Recovery Plan. The required balanced of funding can take the form of revenue generated through the centres core activities over the duration of the plan. Applicants will be required to demonstrate the ability to raise this funding as part of their application.

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