Four hundred and fifty thousand euros have been allocated for a new innovation centre in Birr.
The new facility, the Offaly Innovation and Design Centre, will be located at the Birr Technology Centre at Riverside.
Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy said the new facility will provide many economic “spin offs” for the Birr area. The funding is being provided under the the government's €60 million Regional Enterprise Development Fund.
“The funding will be directed towards the development of a Creative Suite which will provide a purpose-designed location to support the research and education needs of business in the region. This project is underpinned by the I-LOFAR radio telescope and the plan is to take advantage of the special opportunity to tap into large amounts of data from the telescope instantaneously. On completion the suite will provide hot desk facilities, office space, IT training facilities and training programmes. It is also envisaged that industry focused events and research projects led by industry will be coordinated from this space.
“This is great news for the local economy here in Birr, this project will attract undergraduate and post-graduate researchers who will require accommodation locally while researching on location. I am encouraged from my discussions with local businesses in area that have reported positive spin-offs from the level of activity at the I-LOFAR site," she ended.
The news has also been welcomed by Deputy Corcoran Kennedy's party colleague Cllr John Clendennen.
"The funding presents a unique opportunity for the town of Birr and the region to capitalise from what is a truly unique opportunity. Having travelled to Holland and met and engaged with the primary stakeholders, and seen what has been achieved through Radio Astronomy there, I am confident that today’s funding allocation from the Government of Ireland is just another stepping stone to further opportunity and development in the area of astronomy, that will benefit Birr Town and the midlands region," concluded Cllr Clendennen.
The news was also welcomed by Deputy Barry Cowen: “I would like to congratulate and commend the committee who have worked tirelessly to prepare a proposal for this funding.”
Cllr John Carroll says that the announcement is a great boost for the town of Birr.
"As the chairman of the SPC on Economic Planning and Development the technology centre was an initiative that came on the agenda regularly. I am delighted to see the investment as it is very positive for the town," he said.