Friday the 22nd of June saw the unveiling of Portarlington Enterprise Centres (PEC) Innovation Hub & Fabrication Lab (The Fab Lab). The Fab Lab was officially launched by the Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council, Councillor Padraig Fleming who sighted the Fab Lab as a ‘key development in job creation and business development within our towns, villages and rural communities’.

The PEC first opened its doors in 2006 and has gone from strength to strength over the past decade to build a base for business and enterprise in Portarlington. In 2016 the dedication of Mary Keogh (Centre Manager) and her staff paid off when new plans were announced by the PEC board to develop the centre for the future. From this plan the concept of an Innovation Hub and Fab Lab was born. The project was a co-ordinated effort by Laois County Council, Laois Partnership, and the Local Enterprise Office, made possible by funding from the Rural Economic Development Zone (REDZ) and the Town & Village Scheme.

The Innovation Hub offers state of the art facilities including; a conference and training area, shared learning space, hot desks and a fully equipped kitchen. The hot desks offer a unique opportunity to Laois commuters with flexible work patterns the convenience of working close to home either full or part-time. Our Commuter Survey revealed that over 11,000 people are commuting out of Laois on a daily basis. With the opening of The Fab Lab commuting professionals will now have the chance to reclaim their work/life balance while availing of all the modern amenities the innovation hub has to offer.

The Fab Lab (Fabrication Lab) is a global idea which offers personal workshop space for digital fabrication. By providing access to a wide array of high grade fabrication tools and materials the aim of the lab is to create the space for people to make practically anything. The concept has quickly gathering pace around the world and has been hailed as the modern means of invention and innovation. The Portalington Fab Lab is fully equipped with laser cutters, CNC routers and 3D printers with new generational tools being sourced as they become available. The primary focus of the lab is to create a space for learning and early stage prototyping. The enterprise centre has a close relationship with the local Coder Dojo with experts in their fields volunteering their time and knowledge to participants that want to learn how to apply their coding skills in a practical environment.

While the current focus is on learning, the long term plan is to develop and enable business in the area based on the core pillars of Community, Learning and Business. The new Innovation Hub and Fab Lab leaves Portarlington with a distinct advantage to leverage opportunities in the digital economy.

The Innovation Hub and Fab Lab is located on the Canal Road, Portalington, Co. Laois. The office can be contacted on (057) 8645405.

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