Dublin’s Guinness Enterprise Centre (GEC) has announced that it has invested €200,000 in its innovative new CoConnect initiative. The programme, a home-away-from-home for businesses and their employees, will build connections between the GEC and the 120 enterprise hubs across the island of Ireland. The purpose of the initiative is to enrich the start-up ecosystem throughout the country by promoting more engagement and collaboration between regions.

Through CoConnect, start-ups and scale-ups based in participating enterprise hubs can avail of co-working space in the GEC, while GEC-based companies can benefit from co-working space in connected enterprise hubs. For example, somebody established in a Kerry enterprise hub can base themselves at the GEC in Dublin and vice-versa.

In addition, companies who engage with the programme through their own enterprise hub will have access to the GEC’s award-winning University Programme. This initiative enables start-ups to collaborate with Irish and international MBA and PhD students who can research and solve their most pressing business challenges. This year, the GEC was named as the World’s Top Business Incubator, Collaborating with University at the UBI Awards.

Entrepreneurs can also develop invaluable connections through the GEC’s entrepreneurial network and start-up community. In the last six months the GEC has piloted the programme and already partnered with more than 40 enterprise hubs as part of the CoConnect pilot initiative.

Eamonn Sayers, Manager, Guinness Enterprise Centre said: “The GEC is Ireland’s home for Entrepreneurs and CoConnect will create links between entrepreneurs, start-ups, investors, mentors and influencers nationwide, enabling start-ups to scale and succeed. Tapping into the GEC’s extensive entrepreneurial network can make all the difference to a start-up and CoConnect will ultimately provide more support for business ideas from every corner of Ireland.

“Our Universities Programme is an invaluable resource for regional hubs and their start-ups that are collaborating that are collaborating with the GEC through CoConnect. The award-winning programme is incredibly beneficial as it gives start-ups access to some of the brightest minds in many of the top 50 best MBA schools in the world. We’re actively expanding our network of universities participating in the initiative.”

The funding for the initiative was supported by the Regional Enterprise Development Fund which is provided by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, through Enterprise Ireland and the GEC. The CoConnect programme is one of twenty-one initiatives to receive funding through the REDF as part of the Government’s overarching strategy to support regional enterprise development.

Julianne O’Leary, Partnership Programme Manager, Guinness Enterprise Centre, said: “Through my meetings with various enterprise hub managers around the country, the initiative has received a warm reception. CoConnect will work to further enrich the fertile start-up environment in Ireland by encouraging knowledge sharing and networking between start-ups.”

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