A new digital hub for Skibbereen in Cork is seeking to create 500 new jobs over the next five years, with an initial 75 or more jobs guaranteed in the start-up phase.
The refurbished Old Bakery building, which will be renamed Ludgate@Skibbereen, was made available for the initiative by local entrepreneur John Field and is due for completion in November 2015.
The Ludgate hub initiative is named after Skibbereen native Percy Ludgate, who lived less than 100 metres from the building. He took his place in the history of digital technology by designing the world’s first portable computer in 1907.
The 10,000 sq ft hub is the first of its kind in a non-urban area in Ireland. The move follows a similar development whereby Dogpatch Labs and Ulster Bank joined forces to create 8,000 sq ft of start-up space at the IFSC in Dublin.
“The hub will act as a catalyst for local economic development by initially housing up to 75 digital, technology and science innovators,” Leonard Donnelly of the Ludgate hub steering group and former chairman of Dublin Digital Hub Development Agency explained.
“Our formula at its simplest is a fusion of global business experience with first-generation entrepreneurs and scientists. Our bottom-up plan for the area is a new bandwidth-based bridge where we can now link arms to promote Skibbereen with government agencies, form partnerships with other digital co-ops and, most importantly, involve all our families working abroad and away from home, to shape their future in the place they all call home in west Cork.”
The Ludgate hub was pioneered by a group of entrepreneurs, digital ambassadors and local business owners, who were brought together by west Cork resident and Glen Dimplex CEO Seán O’Driscoll.
The aim is to work with the wider Irish diaspora to bring ideas and talent to Skibbereen and help local start-ups and digital enterprises compete on a global scale.
Ireland’s first-ever National Digital Week will happen in November
“Harnessing digital technology is critical to Ireland’s continued success,” said Communications Minister Alex White TD.
“The Government’s National Broadband Plan has created the conditions for accelerated commercial investment in high-speed broadband services, which is enabling projects like the Ludgate hub.
“The next phase of the plan will see the Government go to procurement later this year to ensure that every home, school and business has access to high-speed broadband, even if they are located in areas where commercial investment isn’t viable.”
Ludgate@Skibbereen will host Ireland’s first-ever National Digital Week in November 2015 to coincide with its official opening. This will showcase high-profile international and national speakers and will host a multitude of seminars, workshops and activities.
Vodafone Ireland will be the telecoms partner to the project and SIRO, the ESB and Vodafone fibre broadband joint venture company, will provide the infrastructure to support 1Gbps speeds of high-quality fibre broadband connectivity.
Vodafone’s existing high-speed 4G mobile data connectivity in the Skibbereen and west Cork area will be further upgraded this September in anticipation of National Digital Week.
“It illustrates once connected you can successfully work from one of the most beautiful locations in the world,” said Vodafone Ireland CEO Anne O’Leary.
The full steering group consists of: Kevin Buckley, co-founder and CEO, Spearline Labs; Leonard Donnelly, technology entrepreneur; Oliver Farrell, co-founder and chairman, Vilicom; John Field, JJ. Field & Co; Dee Forbes, president of Discovery Networks, northern Europe; David Puttnam, award-winning film producer and Digital Champion for Ireland; Sean O’Driscoll, chairman and CEO, Glen Dimplex Group; Anne O’Leary: CEO Vodafone, Ireland, and Adam Walsh, general manager at JJ. Field & Co.
West Cork image via Shutterstock