Dublin’s Digital Hub to be dissolved

27 Apr 2021

One of the Digital Hub’s sites in Dublin 8. Image: Connor McKenna/Siliconrepublic.com

The Government is dissolving the Digital Hub Development Agency in a move that has been met with disappointment.

The Government has made the decision to dissolve the Digital Hub, which has provided a base for many tech companies in Dublin 8.

The Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications announced today (27 April) that the Digital Hub Development Agency (DHDA) property portfolio will be handed over to the Land Development Agency for redevelopment in mid-2022.

DHDA CEO Fiach Mac Conghail said he was “disappointed” by the Government’s decision. “[I] regret that the minister and the department didn’t share our vision for creating a sustainable urban quarter in the Liberties.”

The Digital Hub has been home to many start-ups and SMEs since its launch in 2003.

The DHDA was established by the Government with a mandate to attract high-growth technology and IT companies to Dublin 8. Its city centre campus has provided a base for more than 400 companies since then, including Slack, Stripe and Havok, and has supported more than 2,000 employees.

DHDA had warned the Government last year that it may need emergency supports as clients were struggling to pay rent during the pandemic. According to DHDA, the hub will now stay open for tenants for at least another year.

“The priority now is to minimise the impact of the dissolution on our companies, local community and staff,” the DHDA said in a statement. “The department has confirmed to us that the Digital Hub will remain open for client companies and maintain its existing community programmes until at least the end of June 2022.”

There are 31 companies currently based at the hub, employing a total of 270 people on the campus.

“The board of the Digital Hub was surprised to learn that the agency is to be dissolved, and extremely disappointed that our ambition to build an enterprise cluster focused on e-health, climate action and other significant social and economic challenges, rooted in the local community, was not shared,” said DHDA chair Paul Holden.

“We will endeavour to ensure the smooth transfer of responsibilities and the continuation of the regeneration activity in Dublin 8. Based on our discussion with the Land Development Agency, I am confident that it will work closely with the community to ensure that the DHDA property portfolio is developed for the benefit of Irish society.”

‘No longer required’

The Government’s decision came after a Grant Thornton review of the DHDA that was carried out last year.

In a statement, the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications said: “The redevelopment by the Land Development Agency of the 5.6 acres held by the DHDA will be a transformative project for Dublin, with the potential for significant housing supply in a centrally located area, as well as potential for other community uses.”

It added that Grant Thornton concluded that the digital tech sector in Dublin has “developed significantly in the past 20 years, and that the DHDA is no longer required in order to sustain the continued growth of the sector”.

It said that the agency will be wound down over the next year and permanent staff will be redeployed within the public service.

“We will continue to support our companies and our partners for the next 14 months and in the coming weeks we will agree with the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications and the Land Development Agency the schedule for an orderly transfer of ownership,” Mac Conghail added.

“Over the past five years, I witnessed how the Digital Hub supported visionary entrepreneurs and technology companies solving problems to the betterment of Irish society. The Digital Hub played a vital role in job creation and in supporting a vibrant enterprise ecosystem, while at the same time engaging with our local community and partners in providing innovative and creative learning programmes to all generations in Dublin 8.”

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

Lisa Ardill was careers editor at Silicon Republic until June 2021