Dublin’s Digital Hub warns it may need emergency funding

12 Aug 2020

St Patrick's Tower in Dublin 8, where the Digital Hub is located. Image: © noel/Stock.adobe.com

With client companies struggling to pay rent during Covid-19, the Digital Hub has warned the Government that it may need emergency supports.

Dublin’s Digital Hub has warned that it may need to seek emergency funding to sustain business as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to a report by the Irish Times, the Digital Hub Development Agency (DHDA) alerted the Department of Communications about the financial issues in April. Briefing notes recently prepared for Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan, TD, which were seen by the Irish Times, said the DHDA raised concerns about the effect of the pandemic on the hub’s ability to generate income.

Based in The Liberties in Dublin 8, the Digital Hub provides office space and business support services for a cluster of digital media, technology and internet businesses. It is run by Irish State agency DHDA and is home to Dublin’s NDRC, among other groups and businesses.

Concerns from the Digital Hub

A spokesperson for the DHDA told Siliconrepublic.com that the agency “generates the bulk of its commercial income from the rent paid by the diverse mix of companies who operate on the campus”.

They added that the Digital Hub has “worked constructively” with client companies facing rent challenges during the pandemic and found “creative solutions” to support their continued operations.

“With a relatively fixed-cost base, it was prudent to flag the anticipated financial shortfall for this financial year, on which we are in ongoing discussions with the department for additional support. We have taken steps to achieve savings where possible in our operating costs.”

The Irish Times reported that the hub’s accounts for 2018 recorded revenues of €4.2m, of which €3.3m was from rent, and that the agency receives State funding of €795,000 each year in addition to rental income from client companies.

Since the Digital Hub opened in 2003, it has hosted more than 400 companies including Etsy, Distilled Media Group, Amazon, Kavaleer and Slack. At present, around 70 digital enterprises have offices in the hub, which has kept its facilities open throughout the pandemic.

The DHDA spokesperson said: “Notwithstanding the near-term challenges, we remain confident that the Hub can continue to provide the sort of creative community that since its foundation has provided a home to over 400 companies and supported over 2,000 jobs.”

The Enterprise Centre Fund

Meanwhile, the Government has launched a new grant scheme worth €12m, focusing on the role that enterprise centres have in the economy’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. The Enterprise Centre Fund is providing grants of between €10,000 and €150,000 to help implement recovery plans to reboot Ireland’s enterprise centres over the next six to 12 months.

It was announced today (12 August) by Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar, TD, at the Guinness Enterprise Centre, which neighbours the Digital Hub in Dublin 8.

“We are determined to do everything we can to assist businesses during these difficult times,” Varadkar said. “Enterprise centres support over 2,000 companies and thousands of jobs in every region of the country.

“This funding will help them to put in place a recovery plan which will ensure they can continue to deliver for all parts of Ireland. Applications are open from today and I encourage all centres who have been impacted to apply.”

Disclosure: Silicon Republic is a recent tenant of the Digital Hub.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic