By David Raleigh
One hundred jobs have been officially launched in Limerick at Dutch app taxi firm Uber.
Up to three hundred jobs are to expected to come on stream at the company's centre of excellence on Thomas Street within the next 12 months.
Uber is a platform that connects riders with drivers, through a smartphone app.
It currently operates in more than 350 cities across 60 countries worldwide, facilitating millions of trips per day.
Using the Uber app, riders can create an account and book a safe, reliable and affordable ride at the touch of a button.
"We want to provide transportation as reliable as running water for everyone everywhere," Kieran Harte, General Manager for Uber Ireland, said at today's launch.
The jobs were announced by the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan.
Uber's Centre of Excellence aims to become a major hub of its support organisation across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, driving innovation and service excellence for the community of users in the region.
The Limerick hub is Uber’s first Centre of Excellence outside of the United States and will support millions of riders and tens of thousands of partner-drivers in more than 30 cities in 10 countries.
The company has invested over €4m in Limerick as it aims to make the city one of its growing network of customer service hubs across the world.
The investment is supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation through IDA Ireland.
Uber signed a ten-year lease on a site on Thomas Street, which underwent a major redesign and refit.
"When the centre is fully operational there will be 300 people working in the heart of the city," Minister Noonan said.
"2015 was a record year for creating jobs, with Limerick benefiting from an influx of foreign direct investment. The establishment of this Centre of Excellence is a great start to 2016 and I wish Uber well with this exciting project," he added.
Jan O’Sullivan, Minister for Education, who also attended the launch, said: "Uber has hit the ground running in Limerick, and the opening of this Centre of Excellence in the heart of Limerick City is another sign of the €4m investment the company is making in our city and its workforce."
“The location of the Centre of Excellence is also a massive boost for Limerick City centre and the presence of the Uber workforce is already having a positive impact on neighbouring local businesses."
Minister O'Sullivan said the "excellent further and higher education institutions in Limerick" and "their place at the cutting edge of research" was a "major pull factor" for Uber locating in the Treaty city.
Martin Shanahan, Chief Executive of IDA Ireland, added: "Having got off to a strong start in Limerick since arriving here mid year in 2015, with these new premises for its Centre of Excellence Uber is now poised to develop further, growing its workforce considerably and consolidating its EMEA support structure."
"The availability of a strong talent pool in Limerick has been an important element of the company’s success to date and will be of future benefit. This investment by Uber is a huge endorsement of Limerick and the region."