Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, today announced the launch of the Our Rural Future Digital Innovation Programme 2021. This initiative will see grants of up to €200,000 provided to local authority-led digital and telecommunications projects.
This initiative builds on the previous Digital Innovation Programme that ran in 2018. It has an increased funding limit and an added opportunity to apply for funding to scale-up proven projects.
Speaking today, Minister Humphreys said:
“The Government committed to continuing the Digital Innovation Programme in both the Programme for Government and the new rural development policy, Our Rural Future. This Programme supports local authorities to collaborate with each other or with third parties such as social enterprises and community groups, to trial new technologies and new approaches to common issues.
“Under the previous 2018 Digital Innovation Programme there was a wonderful diversity of projects, from life-saving thermal imaging cameras in Galway, to a rural working hub in Roscommon. We have seen projects that support tourism in Kerry, Longford and Monaghan to robotics in Offaly and projects improving accessibility to local services in Wicklow and Tipperary.”
Minister Humphreys continued:
“I am very keen to see more of the same. I want to see creative solutions to common rural challenges, be that connectivity in isolated areas, smart farming, next generation public services or digitally-enhanced tourism.”
The 2021 Digital Innovation Programme has a specific focus on collaboration, whether between local authorities or between local authorities and third parties, such as social enterprises or educational institutions. Projects must be local authority-led and, where assets or infrastructure will established, favour rural and isolated areas.
Minister Humphreys added:
“This year’s Digital Innovation Programme is looking for original, creative and unusual projects that showcase rural ingenuity. Our heartlands, our islands and our local communities have so much to offer. Let’s take this opportunity to show that rural Ireland is home to innovation and really kick start the rural digital revolution.”
Minister Humphries announcement comes as a welcome news to the rural areas within Donegal which has seen a boost to the Digitalization over the past year with the announcement of new remote working hubs already adding to the existing network within the county.