Thursday, 30th March 2023 saw the official opening of The CUBE by Minister Simon Coveney, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment. The 10,000 square foot Low Carbon Centre of Excellence, a dedicated centre for the development of new business and economic activity, will in turn support and assist a transition to a low carbon economy. This exemplar low carbon facility is the first of its kind in the region and is located in the heart of Portlaoise’s Cultural Quarter. It will support and stimulate the development of enterprise and jobs in Laois and the Midlands region.
Portlaoise Town has been designated as Ireland’s first ‘Low Carbon Town’ which will serve as a roadmap for the development and rollout of similar low carbon initiatives in other towns around the Country. The services and experience required to implement these Low Carbon initiatives will be further leveraged through The CUBE for enterprise and industry to future proof the regions for a changing economy. Scaling this know-how will impact on every town and village in Ireland and will become a benchmark for similar initiatives internationally.
Speaking at the opening Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Simon Coveney TD said:
“I am delighted be here today to officially open the CUBE in Portlaoise, Ireland’s first ‘low-carbon’ town. This remarkable state-of-the art facility, which is an integral part of the Midlands Regional Enterprise Plan, will play a central role in enabling the growth of scaling enterprises across the Midlands and further afield, supporting this critical agenda to reduce energy consumption. It will also provide numerous start-ups and high potential businesses with the space and support they needed in order to flourish and prosper.
The Cube will be a Centre of Excellence for the management and mitigation of decarbonisation across all sectors – a key focus of this governments agenda as set out in Project Ireland 2040 and the Climate Action plan. The transition to a low-carbon economy, along with digital transformation, are the focus of my Department’s ‘Building Better Business’ Conferences which will be held throughout this year. The next Conference will be held here in the Midlands region on the 27th April 2023.
The opening of the CUBE, supported by over €2m in funding from my Department’s Regional Enterprise Development Fund, will see the positive contribution by low carbon businesses to economic prosperity in the long-term and I believe will serve as a roadmap for the development and rollout of similar low carbon initiatives in other towns around the country.”
John Mulholland, Chairperson of the Board of Portlaoise Innovation Centre and Chief Executive of Laois County Council said:
“This is a landmark day in the ongoing development of our County Town of Portlaoise. The opening of The CUBE can be regarded as the first in a series of local rejuvenation projects whose primary purpose is to support enterprise, economic and cultural activity in the core town centre.
While the principal aims of developing this centre, the CUBE, is to assist the development of innovation and jobs in the low carbon economy, it is in reality about much more than that. It is about bringing once derelict and vacant buildings back to life. It is about bringing better confidence to a place and it is also about taking small steps on the road to a low carbon Town and feeling our way towards compact town centre development.”
Caroline Hofman, newly appointed Director of The CUBE added:
“I am delighted to be at the helm of this exciting new Low Carbon Centre of Excellence for Portlaoise, which will not only benefit our thriving town and County Laois, but will also significantly benefit businesses and attract investment and job creation at a regional, national, and international level.
In addition, The CUBE will also provide supports to existing and expanding businesses, assisting them on their low carbon and sustainability journey. This will be achieved through various initiatives, including the creation of links between existing and emerging industries, education and training, and research, through partnerships with regional enterprise and educational and training experts.
The CUBE will also have a dedicated space for the incubation of Low Carbon focused start-ups, encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation in this area.”
Numerous partners have been involved in the project since its inception, with The CUBE funded by Enterprise Ireland under the Regional Enterprise Development Fund. The project pivots around Government plans and strategic directions, including Project Ireland 2040, the Climate Action Plan to tackle Climate breakdown, and the Midlands Regional Enterprise Plan to 2024.
Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council, Thomasina Connell was speaking at the opening and said:
“This is a hugely important day in the ongoing development of Portlaoise and I am delighted to see such activity and life in the building and indeed the transformation of this once vacant and derelict building into a Low Carbon Centre of Excellence is most welcome. In this regard I would like express thanks to the previous owner of the building, Mr. Tom O’ Connor. Also, thanks to the neighbours on Church Street for their co-operation and patience during the construction phase of the project. The cube brings significant improvements to the streetscape of the area.
Not only will the centre provide support and assist businesses in the transition to a low carbon economy, but it will greatly assist the local community in their efforts to address energy consumption and retrofitting.”
Lynne McCormack, General Manager of FRS Recruitment said:
“As one of the leading recruitment companies in Ireland we are seeing in real time the impact ESG considerations are having across the corporate world. Businesses are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of sustainability and are taking steps to improve their environmental footprint. We have already begun that process in FRS Recruitment and WrkWrk by fostering a hybrid working envirronment with a view to reducing commuting emissions. Opening an office in this fantastic new facility, which has such a strong focus on low carbon and renewables, represents the next step in our ongoing green journey. We are excited to be part of The Cube and look forward to playing our part in supporting it’s important objectives, which aim to benefit all the world around us.”
Carol Gibbons, Divisional Manager, Regions and Local Enterprise, Enterprise Ireland said:
“A key goal for Enterprise Ireland is to support companies to make the transition to the low-carbon, resource-efficient economy of the future and we are delighted to support the development of the CUBE as a state-of the-art enterprise centre here in the midlands where sustainability focused start-ups can operate, grow and learn from each other.
Supporting innovative start-ups is a huge focus for Enterprise Ireland and the Regional Enterprise Development Fund is an effective mechanism of supporting regional development. The opening of the facility today is a momentous occasion for Portlaoise enabling the growth of scaling enterprises across the region. As the enterprise sector transitions to a more sustainable future, we wish the entire team at the CUBE every success in driving this agenda and we look forward to supporting the start-up community in operation here as they nurture and develop their business ideas.”
The CUBE is also a dedicated GigaBitHub initiative, a partnership between SIRO and Vodafone. This means that the centre is connected to SIRO 100% Fibre Broadband, providing high speed internet access comparable to speeds found in major cities.
Commenting on the announcement, SIRO CEO, John Keaney, said:
“The SIRO-Vodafone GigaBitHub Initiative has connected 18 hubs to date. “The Cube” is the first GigaBitHub of its kind with a commitment to driving sustainability within its local and regional communities. We’re excited to support “The Cube” in its goal to help Ireland’s journey to carbon neutrality. It resonates with SIRO’s mission to be Ireland’s greenest broadband network.
SIRO’s full fibre network is inherently more sustainable, requiring less energy and maintenance when compared to copper or cable networks. Connectivity and access to high-quality fibre broadband can support communities and businesses live and work in better ways, particularly through remote working and adoption of cleaner digital technologies.”
Sinéad Bryan, Managing Director of Vodafone Business Ireland, added:
“We are delighted The Cube, Portlaoise has become the first hub to be connected under phase two of our Gigabit Hub Initiative. The Gigabit Hub Initiative was created in order to empower local businesses and communities through connectivity. This connectivity means the people of Laois can benefit from a better work life balance and allow them to pursue their careers within the area they are from, without sacrificing their quality of life or being forced to move to cities or abroad.”