Meath Enterprise Centre 25 Years on….

Meath Enterprise celebrates 25 years supporting enterprise development in Meath this year and below is a glimpse of what has happened since 1998.

The Navan Enterprise Centre Company was incorporated in 1998 by Meath County Council to take ownership and manage the redevelopment of the underutilised Navan Exhibition Centre which was built in the early 1980s to support and promote Navan’s hugely successful furniture industry.

The original Navan Exhibition Centre, which was managed by the Navan Chamber of Commerce for just over 17 years, was a 38,000 square foot open plan warehouse facility that, along with the furniture exhibitions and trade fairs, would have hosted several major events from show jumping, cattle marts, election counts, music events such as the Status Quo concerts in 1982 and 1990 and an international boxing bonanza in 1983 between Ireland’s Featherweight sensation Barry McGuigan and Cameroons Sammy Meck.

Following its establishment in 1998, when seed capital from Meath County Council and Navan Town Council along with grant aid from Enterprise Ireland and Meath County Enterprise Board got the project started, the Navan Enterprise Centre Company’s primary focus was to develop good quality and affordable workspace that would enable new and/or existing SMEs to grow while also promoting entrepreneurship and economic development in Meath.

The existing open plan facility was significantly redeveloped with offices and light industrial units created over 2-3 floors to support a diverse range of startups and SMEs from across the region. In 2004, an additional 10,000 square foot was added over 2 floors with a further 11,000 square foot of warehouse, manufacturing and production space added to the rear of the centre in 2013.

Today, almost 25 years later, the Meath (Navan) Enterprise Centre is the largest regional enterprise hub in Ireland with an impressive 85,000 square foot of professional office, light industrial, manufacturing, research and training spaces available to support Social Enterprises, Startups and SMEs across multiple sectors such as food, agtech, life sciences, robotics, machine learning, digital media, creative industries, construction, pharmaceuticals and professional services to name but a few.

The Navan based SuperHub, which is managed by Meath Enterprise, is currently home to a daily workforce of almost 300 people and these impressive jobs numbers are expected to increase significantly with addition of the new 10,000 sq. ft Boyne Valley Food Hub in 2022 and the proposed development of a new 30,000 sq. ft Digital Innovation & Smart Agri Hub which is expected to commence in 2023.

Meath Enterprise also manages the Kells Enterprise & Technology Centre (opened in 2007), Kells Tech Hub (launched in 2018), Dunshaughlin Enterprise Hub (launched in 2021), is progressing plans to develop a new Digital / Remote Working Hub in Slane and is leading the delivery of the Boyne Valley Food Innovation District project across the Mid-East Region as part of the Governments Regional Enterprise Plan 2022-24.

In 2014 Meath Enterprise launched Meath Enterprise Week (MEW) which takes place every November in partnership with Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW). Through the delivery of business conferences, showcases, local enterprise events, seminars, workshops and webinars, MEW is an opportunity for all stakeholders in our entrepreneurial ecosystem to connect, innovate and succeed.

In 2014 Meath Enterprise also launched the MEW Student Enterprise Challenge which is an annual competition open to students of all secondary schools in Meath where students compete for the various awards such as Best Startup Business, Best New Business Idea, Best Pitch etc.

In 2016 Meath Enterprise delivered the inaugural Pipeline Innovators Summit, a week-long series of shared learning events and masterclasses between 100s of Irish and US startups and SMEs.

In 2018 Meath Enterprise helped launch the inaugural EO (Global) Accelerator in Ireland to support startups and SMEs from across the country to scale.

In 2019 Meath Enterprise funded and delivered Irelands first Startup Ecosystem Assessment and Development project for the Mid-East Region which was launched by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in our Kells Tech Hub.

In 2022, following an extremely challenging couple of years for the hubs, our tenants, clients, staff and partners as Covid-19 caused havoc across the world, we finally started construction on the Boyne Valley Food Hub which is expected to open its doors in Q2 2024.

What was once an exhibition centre built to support a thriving furniture industry in Navan over 40 years ago, the Meath Enterprise Centre is now one of the largest enterprise centres in Ireland, supporting innovative new startups, SMEs and Social Enterprises and leading the development of a globally connected Food Innovation District.

If you are interested in learning more about the history of entrepreneurship in Navan and it’s once thriving furniture industry, the exhibition centre and why it was built and how Meath Enterprise is re-imagining the future of innovation and entrepreneurship in Meath, then you will be able to read all about in November 2023 when we will publish a new book that will deep dive into the fascinating history of all the aforementioned topics as part of our new Enterprise communications and events series.