(Westmeath, Offaly, Laois & Longford)
- Supporting the growth and transformation of Irish enterprise
- Supporting first-time exporters and boosting capability of SMEs
- Boosting the region’s enterprise ecosystem
- Supporting the development of skills and talent
The Midlands has successfully carved out a clear association with the food, ICT, engineering and MedTech sectors. The region has seen the emergence of innovative and ambitious companies. These include Sidero – a software, cloud, and digital transformation specialist – who announced the creation of 75 jobs at its Athlone base over the next two years following a €4.5m investment. The new roles will include graduate positions as part of Sidero’s graduate placement programme. The company has strong links with local third-level institutions, including the newly opened Technological University of the Shannon (TUS).
The Midlands has also seen important company expansions that further endorse the region as a great place to start and grow a business. Grants Engineering (Offaly) and Alpha Wireless (Laois, Westmeath and Longford) are some companies that announced further expansion and job creation in recent years.
Enterprise Ireland works with clients across the full spectrum of size and sector from entrepreneurs to HPSUs to established companies.
From an entrepreneurship perspective, The Midlands Innovation and Research Centre (MIRC) delivers the New Frontiers Programme in the Midlands Mid-East region. A partnership between Athlone Institute of Technology and Maynooth University means that New Frontiers participants have access to both locations’ expertise, facilities, and resources. The programme has helped 140 knowledge start-up companies, 284 innovation voucher projects completed, with 18 companies progressing to HPSU.
An area that has been brought into focus in recent times is imperative to grow the number of Irish exporting SMEs. The Midlands has a solid bank of successful domestically traded companies across all sectors. Enterprise Ireland has added a dedicated development advisor to the Midlands team to work directly with those companies with exporting potential. The aim is to drive new growth through developing ambitious exporting strategies and bolstering management capability.
The Midlands is now in transition to a lower-carbon economy. Bord na Mona’s plan (BNM) for 2030 focuses on its transformation to a “climate solutions company”. BNM recently announced plans to create a further 885 jobs. Enterprise Ireland has been involved closely with BNM to help them transform. The National Just Transition Fund (JTF) is a key pillar of the Government’s plan for the Midlands. Kieran Mulvey has been appointed as the Just Transition commissioner and new projects are being funded such as Empower Eco. This project was initiated by the Technological University TUS and the Regional Enterprise Ireland Team and focuses on the sustainable and economic development of the region.
The success of Irish-grown companies, from entrepreneurship to start-up, scale-up and global success, requires investment in regional development supports such as accelerators, enterprise centres and industry clusters. Enterprise Ireland funds and supports several important regional development initiatives and investments across the South East that are significant catalysts for company growth.
- Under the Regional Technology Cluster Fund, Enterprise Ireland approved funding of nearly €380,000 for the Advanced Technologies in Manufacturing (ATIM).
- The cluster aims to help companies increase their productivity and efficiency by using smart technologies such as machine learning and automation. The cluster is part of the Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands and Midwest.
- Enterprise Ireland continues to support the Midlands, through collaboration and funding, The Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest (TUS) will shortly commence work on a new polymer centre of excellence valued at €10 million on its Athlone campus.
- The new polymer centre will form part of the university’s STEM Quadrangle, facilitating the ongoing development of MedTech industries for the region.
- Enterprise Ireland has approved 4 million for capital equipment funding to the technology gateway since 2019,
Collaboration is key and Enterprise Ireland’s Midlands team works closely with important regional stakeholders to deliver enterprise development supports that drive the growth of start-ups and established client companies. These include the region’s four local enterprise offices, the Midlands Regional Skills Forum, The National Just Transition Fund for the Midlands, TUS, the MREP Advanced Manufacturing Action Plan, and the Regional Food & Drink Strategy to 2024