Clare County Council is inviting companies to tender to develop a solution to address rural transport shortages and rural isolation in Co Clare.
The non-commercial, community-based initiative aims to match those in need of transport with private drivers who have available transport capacity and is among the actions identified in the Clare Rural Development Strategy 2026 and the Clare Digital Strategy.
Pat Dowling, Chief Executive of Clare County Council, said: "Ireland has the highest length of road network per capita in the EU and the most dispersed pattern of rural dwelling. Rural isolation is a consequence. This project aims to address these challenges by way of leveraging community-based goodwill and supporting it with appropriate IT applications, both software and hardware, that links those with private transport to those in need of transport."
Pat Breen, Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, joined the Local Authority in announcing details of CarShareIT, which is being 50 per cent funded by Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Ireland through Enterprise Ireland.
Kevin Sherry, executive director, Global Business Development, Enterprise Ireland, said: "The Enterprise Ireland SBIR initiative is all about channelling pioneering ideas while also cultivating collaborations between innovative SMEs and the public sector. The CarShareIT challenge is asking companies to come up with ideas on how to tackle issues that affect rural communities, not just in our own country, but in similar rural regions all over the world. In fostering these partnerships, SBIR Ireland offers a platform for harnessing innovative concepts with the view to transforming these into real-life, workable solutions to global societal challenges."
Clare County Council has welcomed the interest shown by Jaguar Land Rover in engaging with the initiative through its role in the Connected and Autonomous Vehicle (CAV) Ireland initiative. The company's new facility in Shannon is developing technologies and systems for electric and self-driving vehicles that have the potential to augment and communicate with the IT solutions being developed to address Clare's rural transport challenge.
Clare County Council says it is inviting companies to tender to develop CarShareIT. Should the Feasibility Phase prove successful Clare County Council will apply to Enterprise Ireland for additional funding to help complete the development of a Prototype in Phase 2 (late summer 2018).