Double the number of companies are now resident in Dublin’s Digital Hub compared to one year ago, its development agency has said. The digital media cluster located in the Liberties area of the city now has 24 companies based at the site and more than 300 people working there.
In its end-of-year statement, the Digital Hub Development Agency (DHDA) said that the progress achieved throughout 2004 had put it on a sound footing, allowing it move forward into its major development and expansion phase over the next two years.
Over the next 10 years, the agency plans to develop a site that includes digital media enterprise, retail and residential units, learning and civic space. Currently two of the nine acres have been developed and planning approvals are in train for the remaining space.
The agency has already selected a preferred bidder for the remainder of the seven-acre property development following a tender process. Negotiations between the agency and the winning bidder began in 2004 and these have progressed to an advanced stage.
According to Philip Flynn, chief executive of the DHDA, the major milestones remaining are completion of negotiations and receipt of statutory approvals, publication of a community development plan followed by a full planning application. “In the meantime, to ensure that we can continue to meet the strong demand from new companies to base themselves in the Digital Hub, we have put in place plans to create state-of-the-art, temporary space to house further tenants in 2005.”
Flynn said that the critical success factor in 2004 was the attraction of new companies to the site. “In attracting companies to the hub, we have created a diverse cluster of digital media enterprises, including gaming, animation and mobile technologies. This diversity has allowed the companies based here to successfully team up for business tenders and other joint ventures,” he said. Many of the companies based at the hub are anticipating further expansion in 2005, he added.
There is now an “extensive telecommunication infrastructure” in place at the hub, Flynn added. This includes a 3.5km fibre-optic ring and a network operations centre that links the project with the Dublin City Metropolitan Area Network. Companies located in the hub have access to a phone system based on voice-over internet technology; the site has a broadband connection rated at more than 4Gbps and it includes videoconferencing and presentation facilities. Five different telecommunications voice and data operators are providing services to companies based at the cluster.
Concluding the review, Flynn also noted the agency’s achievements in promoting learning schemes. The hub’s educational remit is delivered through the Diageo Liberties Learning Initiative (DLLI). Last year, Diageo Ireland doubled its investment in the programme with a donation of €1.3m, which puts the total investment so far at €2.6m. To date, DLLI has delivered 20 programmes involving more than 6,000 people, including 16 local schools, the wider community of the Liberties and the Irish digital media sector.
By Gordon Smith