Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton, visited Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT ) on Tuesday morning (February 23 ) to announce funding for the expansion of the Midlands Innovation and Research Centre (MIRC ) at the college.
The centre is in line for a 1,135 square metre expansion supported by an investment of €3 million by Enterprise Ireland, with the balance of funding coming from AIT. Working in partnership with Enterprise Ireland, the MIRC provides incubation facilities for innovative and knowledge-based enterprise, an enterprise programme for entrepreneurs and start-ups, and makes available the resources and expertise of AIT to support client companies and enterprise in the region.
The MIRC has supported 151 knowledge-based start-ups to date. Attending the MIRC on Tuesday, Minister Bruton said: “The Midlands Innovation and Research Centre is an excellent example of a facility that helps nurture and grow innovative enterprises and create jobs regionally. An investment of this nature is a central element of our Regional Action Plans for Jobs where we are determined to invest in, and develop, the capacity of all regions to create clusters of strength and to have sustainable job creation in those regions for years to come.”
President of AIT, professor Ciarán Ó Catháin, said: “The planned MIRC expansion is a vital element in AIT’s institutional strategy, working in partnership with Enterprise Ireland, to significantly increase the number of high-growth knowledge-intensive export-focused businesses in the Midlands. Expanded MIRC facilities represent a key driver of our strategy for economic development in the region.”
Fine Gael Deputy, Gabrielle McFadden, welcomed the funding as “great news” for Athlone and the Midlands. “As a local Government TD, I have fought very hard for this funding which will help create more jobs for Athlone, Westmeath, and the wider region,” she said. “This enterprise hub has already generated 800 jobs and this expansion is set to see a further creation of 800 jobs.
“This major expansion endorses the excellent work that is going on at MIRC in Athlone IT. Increased innovation and start-ups are vital to the future growth of the Midlands and MIRC is an excellent example of how to nurture the very best of our local entrepreneurs, where the net result is ultimately jobs.”