Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal, Damien English TD, today revealed Dundalk Institute of Technology’s Regional Development Centre as the first on-campus higher education incubation centre to receive two years of free gigabit fibre broadband from SIRO and Vodafone as part of the companies’ national Gigabit Hub Initiative.

Established in 1989 by Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT), the Regional Development Centre is the Institute’s Innovation Support and Technology Transfer organisation, acting as the commercial interface between the Institute and the wider business community. It has supported more than 1,220 entrepreneurs, incubated 170 knowledge based start-up enterprises and conducted 280 applied research projects over those 28 years.

Other business hubs powered by SIRO’s 100% fibre-optic network include the Ludgate Hub in Skibbereen and Kerry’s HQTralee. The Ludgate Hub, which was connected in July 2016, is an exemplar project as recognised by the European Commission and is on course to create 500 jobs over the next five years in West Cork.

Commenting on the announcement, Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal Damien English TD said: “Being connected to SIRO’s 100% fibre-optic network reaffirms the North East’s appeal as a destination for future Foreign Direct Investment, and as a location that combines excellent quality of life with ease of access to Dublin and to the EU. Dundalk Institute of Technology’s Regional Development Centre is already home to numerous businesses ranging from startups to FDI companies, all of whom believe that Gigagbit connectivity is vital to their organisation. This initiative underlines the key role that the centre plays in empowering the local economy through the early-stage development of quality high tech companies in the region and attracting overseas businesses like Brandt to the area.”

Ann Campbell, President of DkIT, added:“We are extremely excited to be the first Higher Education Institute in Ireland to launch SIRO’s Gigabit Hub initiative at our Regional Development Centre on campus. Strong connectivity is crucially important to companies of all sizes in the North East as they continue to compete in today’s global economy. Access to SIRO’s 100% fibre broadband network will deliver broadband speeds up to 10 times faster than existing speeds for our incubation companies which will dramatically improve their digital effectiveness and enhance the Institute’s ability to attract innovative start-ups to the North East region.”

Trevor Lucy, Director of Engineering at SIRO, commented: “We are delighted to boost the success of companies in residence at DkIT’s Regional Development Centre by giving them access to the most powerful broadband available in Ireland, enabling them to have the same competitive advantage in terms of connectivity as leading international hubs like Tokyo and Hong Kong. This forms part of our strategy to revitalise towns across Ireland by sparking a digital transformation, helping to attract investment and encouraging more people to establish businesses in towns like Dundalk.”

Anne O’Leary, Chief Executive of Vodafone Ireland, added: “Dundalk Institute of Technology’s Regional Development Centre is the first on-campus innovation centre to receive 1 Gigabit fibre broadband as part of Vodafone and SIRO’s national Gigabit Hub Initiative. We are delighted to be in a position to support local businesses through vital hubs such as the Regional Development Centre. The economic and social benefits that Gigabit connectivity can bring to companies in regional Ireland are almost incalculable offering employees better work/life balance – and most importantly – encourage our successful regional businesses to remain in Ireland and compete on a level playing field with the likes of Singapore and San Francisco.”

Over the coming weeks, business hubs in four other towns –Letterkenny, Dundalk, Cavan and Carlow – will be awarded free gigabit connectivity as part of the first phase of Vodafone and SIRO’s Gigabit Hub Initiative.

SIRO offers a wholesale open access network meaning that it is available to all telecoms operators in Ireland to resell to their customers. Vodafone, BT, Digiweb, Westnet, Carnsore Broadband, Rocket Broadband and enet have already signed up to make broadband services powered by SIRO available.

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