The international transportation network company Uber is to establish a customer services hub in Limerick city, which it says will create 150 jobs by the end of the year and around 300 when it is fully operational.

Uber connects passengers who need lifts with a network of drivers in cities across the world with their Uber apps.

It started as a niche company in San Francisco in 2009 and now has a presence in over 300 cities worldwide.

It is setting up a customer services hub in Limerick city, and has taken out a ten-year lease on a building in Thomas Street, which will employ 150 people by the end of the year.

It is the the first such hub outside the US, which will cater for customers in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

The investment of €4m has been supported by the IDA and welcomed by the Government, which says it will provide a major boost to the Limerick city economy by providing a wide range of technology jobs.

The company has expanded rapidly worldwide in recent years, but is controversial.

It has been banned in Spain and Berlin and its legality has been challenged by a number of governments and in particular by taxi firms who claim their use of unlicensed drivers is unsafe.

General Manager of Uber Ireland Kieran Harte, speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, outlined the type of jobs that will be on offer when the hub opens. 

"We are going to have a few different types of roles to start with. Some will be managerial, some will be administrative. We will be looking for data analysts and process engineers. The majority of the roles, though, we are looking for tech savvy problem solvers, so they will be managing the customer support of both our communities, so our passenger community and our driver partner community."

He added that while there is no Uber service in Limerick just yet, the company is growing fast and it hopes to have the new centre of excellence "fully operational" by 2016.

He dismissed any notion that taxi drivers have criticised the Uber service, instead stating they have an excellent working relationship with many drivers in Dublin. 

"We are working with thousands of taxi drivers in Dublin who have great experiences and make great money. To give you a sense of the scale, the average waiting time for Uber is under four minutes, so it gives you an idea of the driver-partner scale."

He said they have no concrete timetable for other cities and have to see the demand first and look at how they can scale up operations. 

He acknowledged that one of its services, Uberpool, had come under fire in France recently.

"That is one service that has licensed drivers, but not licensed taxi drivers. That is the one taxi drivers have had issue with." 

He rejected any claims the company had been banned in certain cities stating that a certain service that Uber provides may not be permitted.

"What we are seeing, and and this is not just a European concern, is a patchwork of regulations across countries.

"Some regulations were written 30 or 40 years ago and change is hard and we expect to see that trying to implement some of these changes is going to be hard.

"Europe is having some of these conversations", he said.

With the major recruitment drive due to begin in Limerick, he said the company has 50 jobs already available and an intention to create 300 jobs in total by next year.