Plans for the proposed food innovation hub in Athenry took a step forward this week with the signing of contracts for the construction of the multi-million euro project.
Glenman Construction Corporation Ltd has been contracted to build the BIA Innovator campus, which will transform the food entrepreneurship landscape in the west of Ireland.
The campus, which will be built on part of the Teagasc Mellows campus in Athenry, is expected to create more than 360 jobs in some 40 businesses across the region, providing much needed facilities to help the food industry in the west through support, learning, and collaboration.
“I’m delighted to see the project move to the construction phase,” Peter Feeney, chairman of BIA Innovator Campus CLG, said at the contract signing in County Hall this week. “This is a project of national significance, and the food hub will fill a void in the western region, allowing the development of innovative added value food products [and] becoming central to rural development and a sustainable agricultural sector.
“This project will support our farmers, producers, and chefs to grow with the correct facilities, training, and advice to bolster our wonderful communities in the west of Ireland,” Mr Feeney added. “As chairman, I would like to thank the partners in this exciting venture — both the Department of Community and Rural Development, and the Department of Business, Enterprise, and Innovation — for funding this project, and especially the board members who have given their time and expertise to get us to where we are today.”
Alan Farrell, director of services with Galway County Council and director of BIA Innovator Campus CLG, added: “We are delighted that we are now in the delivery phase of this incredibly exciting and innovative project. The BIA Innovator Campus will create significant employment opportunities, providing hundreds of new jobs in the region, ensure essential training and development to meet the needs of industry, address infrastructural gaps by providing access to the latest food technology. This innovation driven environment with incubation and growth units will deliver rural regeneration throughout the west of Ireland. The project is also part of wider proposals for the regeneration of Athenry which will involve the enhancement of the public realm, the development of tourism opportunities, enhancement of shopfronts, and development of close links between the campus and wider town.
“The aim is to ensure that businesses are supported at the start up stage, and provide a growth continuum to enable them to scale up and enter new markets,” Mr Farrell continued. “With Brexit on the horizon, this investment is tailored to meet the needs and address the challenges the private sector faces. The BIA Innovator Campus is an excellent example of collaborative working involving all stakeholders from the public, private, community and education sectors. The project builds on the work the council have been doing for a number of years involving a wide range of partners and is a legacy project from Galway, West of Ireland European Region of Gastronomy 2018 designation.”
The two main partners in the project, Galway County Council and Teagasc, working closely with the Galway Roscommon Education and Training Board (GRETB ), Athenry Community Council, SCCUL, and the Western Development Commission, have delivered the project to construction phase.
For more information on the BIA Innovation Campus see www.biainnovatorcampus.ie