BIRR TO GET NEW TECHNOLOGY CENTRE
New Technology Centre will position Birr as player in the knowledge economy
Brian Cowen, T.D. Minister for Foreign Affairs, today (Friday, April 14th 2000) launched the Birr Technology Centre project, which is being developed by Shannon Development to position Birr as a player in the new knowledge economy. The new Technology Centre which involves an overall investment of £2.2 million will be situated on the site of the old derelict mill, in the heart of Birr. Development work will commence this year and the project is scheduled for completion in summer 2001.
Launching the new project, Minister Cowen said: "In line with the Government's aim to deliver balanced regional development in Ireland, which includes the allocation of a budget of £82 million for the development of eCommerce in the BMW region, this new project is a significant step towards ensuring that South Offaly plays a meaningful part in this process. It is an important development and a proactive move by Shannon Development to ensure that spatial development occurs in the Shannon Region. The advent of a new state-of-the-art technology centre will ensure that South Offaly, and Birr in particular, has the capacity to meet the needs of the developing knowledge economy."
Outlining the project details, Minister Cowen said that "When completed, the Technology Centre will incorporate over 20,000 sq. ft. of high quality office space, serviced with a state-of-the-art telecommunications network and other facilities geared specifically towards businesses in the high growth knowledge-based services sector. The type of business targeted will include software, multimedia and e-commerce related activities. As well as providing incubation space and support facilities for new and growing businesses, the Centre will incorporate other serviced accommodation which will also meet the needs of international investment."
Minister Cowen welcomed the fact that the development will transform the site of the old derelict mill owned by Shannon Development, which is adjacent to the River Camcor in the heart of Birr Town. "The new building will incorporate -2-
elements of the existing structure and will retain the character of the old mill, thus providing a unique and attractive working environment in harmony with the landscape of Ireland's Georgian Heritage Town. It will also add another dimension to the town's historic association with Science and Technology," the Minister added.
The site in question is part of the area designated under the national Urban Renewal Scheme and therefore qualifies for tax incentives on investment. Shannon Development is utilising these incentives to put together an attractive investment package that is expected to raise over £1M of private sector finance for the project.
Paul Sheane, Chief Executive, Shannon Development, explained that the Birr Technology Centre will form part of a network of similar facilities, or technology nodes, which are being developed by the Company throughout the Shannon Region to support the development of indigenous high-technology enterprise in the region.
"The Company's first business incubator – the Innovation Centre, located on the National Technological Park in Limerick, has clearly demonstrated the effectiveness of technology centres as a mechanism for incubating enterprise as evidence by the superior levels of business start-ups being achieved in the region over many years."
Preliminary design work for the new Birr Technology Centre is completed and a planning application will be lodged shortly. In addition to providing new physical industrial infrastructure for Birr, Mr. Sheane added that "the new development will become an integral part of the Company's innovation process, which includes the provision of seed capital, equity funding, and mentoring support to industry as well as proactively developing linkages with the tertiary educational system".