The Portarlington PEC Innovation Hub and Fab Lab was officially opened on Friday, June 22 – a facility which should create further jobs in Laois and also offer commuters an opportunity to work locally.
Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council, Councillor Padraig Fleming performed the opening ceremony, as one of the last official roles before handing over the chain of office.
“Job creation is key to the development of our towns, villages and rural communities and I am confident that this new Innovation Hub and Fab Lab will help build business, and create employment throughout Laois” he said.
Portarlington Enterprise Centre was originally opened in 2006, which Cllr Fleming said was due to the hard work and dedication of The Portarlington Community Development Association.
In 2016,with Mary Keogh as manager of the centre, the PEC Board set out a new plan as to the future development of the Centre and out of this plan grew the idea behind the Innovation Hub and Fab Lab.
A Steering group was set up to advance the concept consisting of Laois County Council, Laois Partnership, and the Local Enterprise Office together with the Portarlington Enterprise Centre. Consultants on the project were Carlow IT. Funding on the project came from 3 sources- Laois County Council, The Rural Economic Development Zone (REDZ) Fund administered by the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs and the Town & Village Renewal Scheme 2017.
The project has seen a complete re-fitting and expansion of a conventional unit to create a state-of-the-art training area, hot desking space and a highly equipped Fab Lab.
The hot-desking facility will provide a professional environment for Commuters looking to adopt more flexible working patterns.
Kieran Kehoe Director of Services, Laois County Council whopresided at the Official Opening, spoke about the huge numbers of people commuting outside the county for work every day and was happy to see that they now have the option of working full/part time from this centre which can offer all the modern conveniences of a state-of- the-art innovation centre including fully equipped training room facilities.
Mark Gavin, a dedicated champion and mentor of the local Coder Dojo club spoke at the official opening about the fab lab.
The term Fab Lab relates to a trademark entity where people can make almost anything by having access to a set list of equipment.
Fab Labs provide widespread access to modern means for invention. This means the space will be built around the core maker tools of laser cutters, CNC routers and 3D printers but the equipment will be sourced from a new generation of tools that are aimed at entry level facilities that focus on learning and basic “early draft” prototyping as opposed to building production ready products.
The Fab Lab is a Community resource. It will have primary focus on learning with longer term focus on developing and enabling business in the area. The three core pillars are Community, Learning and Business
Mr Kehoe stated that the new Innovation Hub would align well with the demands of the evolving digital oriented economy and he was confident that it would emulate the success of similar initiatives around the Country.
The Innovation Hub and Fab Lab is located on the Canal Road, Portarlington, Co Laois. People interested in finding out more information about the facilities on offer can contact Mary Keogh, Manager of the Centre at 057 8645405.
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