€3.5m R&D hub for start-ups at Smithwick’s brewery in Kilkenny – we’ll drink to that!

16 Jul 2013

Kilkenny County and City Boroughs have agreed to a proposal to transform the historic Brewhouse and Maturation Building on the old Smithwick’s site into a Research & Development and Enterprise Campus for the relocation of the TSSG/Arc Lab facility for start-ups at a cost of €3.5m.

A plan has been unveiled for the development of part of the Smithwick’s Brewery site in the centre of Kilkenny City into a national research and development centre and a hub for high-performance start -ups.

Central to the plan is the relocation of the successful TSSG/Arc Lab Kilkenny facility to the proposed new campus. The TSSG (Telecoms Software and System Group)/Arc Lab facility is a joint venture between the Kilkenny Local Authorities, Waterford and Carlow Institute of Technologies, and is a hub for next-generation internet development for companies in the finance, banking, insurance and agri-business sectors.

“The new campus will offer all the benefits of Kilkenny city centre, and full R&D and third-level support to technology companies and will be a major boost for the economic development of Kilkenny and for the growth of the city centre,” said Martin Brett, the mayor of Kilkenny.

May we live in enterprising times

Since it opened in St Kieran’s College in Kilkenny last year, it has generated €2m of business and now employs 20 highly skilled researchers. It is full and seeking to expand.

It is envisaged that the proposed Research & Development and Enterprise Campus would also be used for high-performance start-ups, major technology and other companies and as a foreign direct investment location.

Kilkenny County and Borough Council purchased 12 acres of Diageo/Smithwicks lands in the centre of Kilkenny City in 2012 following the announcement of the brewery closure. The site includes a significant number of buildings and Diageo has announced plans to build a €3m visitor centre on part of the site.

City and county manager Joe Crockett welcomed the decision by councillors to agree to the plan for the site.

“It is an objective of the council’s economic development policy to advance the development of third and fourth-level education research and development, and to expand Kilkenny as a centre for national and internationally traded services.”

Earlier this year, Kilkenny County and City Borough Councils launched a unique consultation for the development of the site, inviting architects and planners to participate in a colloquium under the auspices of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland.

Kilkenny County Council chairman Pat Dunphy said: “The brewery buildings and the total of 15 acres of city centre lands available at and around the site would be a superb location for corporate and office use and for IDA and Enterprise Ireland-backed companies.”

Following this process, it was recommended that a number of buildings on the Smithwick’s site be retained, including The Mayfair, (an office building), the Hopstore, the Maturation building and the Brewhouse.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years