“The core vision of the Digital Hub is quite simple,” explained CEO Gerry Macken. “We want to grow and develop a world-class cluster of digital enterprises here in the historic Liberties quarter of Dublin city.”
In an interview with Siliconrepublic.com, Macken outlined how major construction projects that have gotten under way will breathe new life into the historic district of Dublin in the form of more start-up space for businesses, new retail space and student accommodation, which will all add a vibrancy to the area.
“The main success we’ve had to date is that the cluster has grown to 90 companies and currently employs in excess of 650 people full-time. What’s unique about the cluster is we have this mix of 60pc indigenous companies and 40pc of companies from outside Ireland.”
The Digital Hub recently announced plans for the refurbishment of ‘The Grainstore’, a 19th century building, which will add an additional 10,650 square feet of space to the cluster.
Last year, in a €40m deal, the Digital Hub Development Agency (DHDA) secured a new enterprise office space and a student accommodation development for The Liberties area in Dublin City.
The project is expected to create up to 300 jobs in construction in the short term, and will result in the creation of an additional 10,650 square feet of enterprise office space, as well as a housing development for 470 students on Bonham Street in Dublin 8.
Operation regeneration for historic Liberties quarter
Macken said that, in 2014, 35 new businesses came to the Hub to locate, and in the first few months of 2015 eight new businesses located in the Hub.
“We have the full broad spectrum of digital businesses and that is only going to grow and grow.”
He said that the office space problem is a real problem for the start-up ecosystem in Dublin and he believes The Digital Hub has the answer.
“We offer very good value in The Digital Hub and yet we are only 3km from the city centre, where as you know rental prices are beginning to go through the roof. We would hope this won’t be a barrier to small business development in the city, but we continue to offer good value here.
“We have eight active buildings here hosting 90 digital enterprises. As you look out the window here you will see cranes and scaffolding all over the place. We have two major building programmes going on at the minute.
“We have student accommodation being built for students, which will bring new life into the area. We are also converting a 19th century grain store, which will give us four floors of 10,500 sq ft of space, which is being fitted out as we speak and will be ready by the end of August. We already have two of those floors rented out.
“Also on the corner of Thomas St and Crane St is a Georgian building that is being fitted out with retail at ground floor, which I think will be very attractive to digital enterprise businesses and people in the creative space.”
Further down the line Macken said The Digital Hub has a nine acre site that includes Vat House 7, a massive building capable of hosting even more imaginative office space.
“We are using the competitive dialogue process to go to market and enter into joint ventures or partnerships with developers to grow that site and we would hope to get an additional large amount of space that large digital companies will locate in, and that will help develop and further enhance the cluster.”