On the 4 March, Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys announced a partnership between the national Connected Hubs network and the global peer-to-peer and online collaboration platform Zoom.
Minister Humphrey at the official opening of An Chroí Digital Hub in Co. Sligo. Minister Humphrey said:
“Last week we launched the connectedhubs.ie mobile app and announced an additional €5M of funding to add remote work capacity across the country. Today I am opening An Chroí, part of the original DigiWest network that was the genesis of the national Connected Hubs platform. The DigiWest project was awarded almost €650K in funding by my department under the RRDF scheme in 2019. Now, in early 2022, the network that began with four hubs in the West has grown into the Connected Hubs network with more than 200 nationwide, with another 200 to come. Today I am also announcing a partnership with Zoom, a company that is synonymous with innovation and, of course, remote working. This partnership is clear evidence of the confidence that the commercial sector has in the Connected Hubs network and of the need for closer collaboration.”
As part of the DigiWest network The BASE Enterprise centre based in the twin towns of Ballybofey and Stranorlar in County Donegal are a part of the DigiWest partnership. The objective of the Digiwest initiative is to provide local workspace with high speed telecommunications capacity for the use of workers, entrepreneurs and local communities. The initiative started in 2019 and focused on specific hubs in the West of Ireland including Roscommon (Tulsk – Digi-Hub), Mayo (Swinford – The Courthouse) and Sligo (Tubbercurry – An Chroí).
Working with Zoom will improve online services to people who use the national Connected Hubs network that provide remote and co-working spaces across Ireland.
The CEO of the Western Development Commission Tomás Ó Síocháin commented:
The alliance between Zoom and Connected Hubs will allow hubs on the network to expand their offerings to their members and further enhance the facilities available to remote and hybrid workers. We look forward to further growing the offerings available to hub members through future partnerships and bridging the gap between global services and rural businesses to support local enterprise activity, broadening of the customer base and online trading.
Via Zoom from New York, Harry Moseley, CIO of Zoom stated:
Connected Hubs is an outstanding global example of how we can drive positive revolution for our rural regions. It's incredibly refreshing to see the Irish Government lead from the forefront and embrace this new era of flexible working, encompassed by the National Remote Working Strategy. We recognise Connected Hubs as a key driver in bringing the ambitions and objectives of that strategy to life. As the initiative works towards onboarding 400 hubs nationwide, we want to ensure that hub users have full access to the ever-evolving technology innovations Zoom are bringing on stream. This is an important partnership for Zoom in terms of equipping hub users to become champions of ‘making remote working work’, enabling better collaboration and innovation. We commend the work undertaken by the Western Development Commission and the Irish Government to date in ensuring that remote working is a permanent feature in the Irish workplace. Building on this partnership, we hope this is the first of many future collaborations in our efforts to support remote working across Ireland.
Minister Humphreys concluded the event by saying that:
The provision of remote working facilities is essential to enabling our rural towns and villages to capitalise on opportunities that have now arisen for people to live and work in rural areas. Hubs and a remote working are no longer unknown quantities. They are embedded parts of many peoples’ lives and will continue to be so. Remote working supports high performance in career terms and also a meaningful family life lived in sustainable, vibrant communities.