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Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Simon Coveney TD was guest of honour today for the official opening of the Mid-East Regional Innovation Thinkspace (MERITS), hosted by Kildare County Council.
MERITS is an innovation thinkspace hub created to support digital and technology innovation in the Mid-East region (Kildare, Meath & Wicklow). The state-of-the-art 1200sqm incubation space for start-up and scaling technology businesses, comprises the latest tools and technologies along with office space, meeting rooms and conference suites in an immersive experience.
The innovative hub is co-funded by Kildare County Council and Enterprise Ireland under the Regional Enterprise Development Fund (REFD) and is already home to 20 client companies, employing over 40 people. As well as access to state-of-the-art facilities, the expert team in MERITS provide access to high quality training, funding opportunities and extensive supports for entrepreneurs and tech businesses in the region, including access to the Local Enterprise Office and Enterprise Ireland.
The Governance structure of MERITS is through an independent Board, which includes representation from Kildare County Council, Kildare Local Enterprise Office, Kildare Chamber, Kildare Wicklow Education and Training Board and a number of public representatives and experienced non-executive directors. Mentors include the founders of Pigsback.com, AQMetrics and the Entrepreneurs Academy, as well as investment managers from leading venture capital firms. Other key stakeholders and advisors are drawn from Enterprise Ireland, the IDA and Meath and Wicklow Local Enterprise Offices.
Addressing the guests at the launch, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Simon Coveney TD said;“With MERITS’ opening today, Kildare and the Mid-East region will benefit from a cluster of new Irish and international new-technology companies. With the supports of my own Department along with Kildare County Council, the Local Enterprise Office and Enterprise Ireland, MERITS, which is an integral part of the Mid-East Regional Enterprise Plan, will give much-needed infrastructure, mentorship and support to attract high technology investment and industries. This investment by Kildare County Council and €2.4 million under my Department’s Regional Enterprise Development Fund is a transformational investment for Kildare’s knowledge economy.”
“Kildare’s ability to adapt to a digital future depends on developing the next generation of skills, closing the gap between talent supply and demand. I commend the local authorities’ key focus to strengthen relationships and transfer of knowledge between entrepreneurs, employers, education and training providers, to ensure it is best placed within a vibrant region armed with relevant knowledge, entrepreneurial agility and analytical skills to attract and retain the best and bright.”
Speaking at the launch, Cathaoirleach of the County of Kildare, Cllr Fintan Brett said; “Having been part of this project since its inception, today is a very proud moment for both myself and my fellow Kildare County Council elected members. Entrepreneurship, particularly tech-enabled, high-growth entrepreneurship as delivered by the clients in MERITS, is key to economic growth and development in County Kildare and the greater Mid East Region.”
Sonya Kavanagh, Chief Executive, Kildare County Council said; “The investment by Kildare County Council and Enterprise Ireland into the development of MERITS is fundamental to the development of Kildare’s Entrepreneurial Eco-system. Nurturing creativity and building an entrepreneurial tech community in the region is at the core of this new building. It provides a space where technology enthusiasts, innovators and entrepreneurs are supported by a collaborative multi-agency approach. Providing critical financial, educational, and business support services to small and growing Tech businesses is at its core, with a view to creating jobs and stimulating long-term economic growth.”
Leo Clancy, Chief Executive Officer, Enterprise Ireland, said: “Enterprise Ireland is committed to supporting Irish-owned companies to achieve greater scale and expand their global footprint. Pivotal to this is a strong ecosystem which fosters the development of start-ups and early-stage businesses in communities around the country.”
“MERITS, which has been supported by the Regional Enterprise Development Fund, will play a key role in that important work in the Mid-East region, as they work to foster the development of innovative digital and technology focused enterprises. I would like to congratulate all the team involved in the delivery of this impressive facility, and we look forward to continuing to work with you to support the growth and development of early-stage and scaling enterprises in the region.”