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Trinity College Dublin launches plan for Innovation Hub, “a location for Irish start-up companies with global ambition”

Trinity College Dublin has recently announced the first phase of the planned Grand Canal Innovation District (GCID) – its proposed Innovation Hub.

The Innovation Hub will “provide space for entrepreneurs, start-ups and innovation teams from large corporates,” according to a press release. It will be the venue for organised regular events to bring together academics, start-ups, the local community and the enterprise community, animating and programming the Grand Canal Innovation District.

Trinity has this week submitted the planning application with a view to having the new space fully operational in the first quarter of 2022.

An Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar welcomed today’s announcement, noting that when the Cabinet approved the project in January, “we did so because of the critical role innovation will play in supporting the future of the Irish economy and the opportunity for GCID to position Dublin into the future as a European tech hub,” he said.

Mr Varadkar continued: “It will act as a location for Irish start-up companies with global ambition as well as attracting new sources of foreign direct investment. COVID-19 has challenged our economy and GCID is an example of the kind of investment that will help our economy recover and grow in the years that lie ahead.”

Tainste Leo Varadkar

The Grand Canal Innovation District  will see the clustering of research institutes, entrepreneurs and educational institutions, high growth companies and tech and creative start-ups in a concentrated urban environment.

It will act as a location for Irish start-up companies with global ambition as well as attracting new sources of foreign direct investment.

Trinity will act as the anchor tenant in the centre of the district, providing a connection to a talent pipeline of graduates, an innovation engine and a social and cultural centre.

Patrick Prendergast, Provost and President of Trinity College Dublin, said that Trinity College Dublin is spearheading this national project to “create an innovation district in the docklands of our capital city.”

TCD Provost Patrick Prendergast.

Mr Prendergast continued by noting that Dublin already has an “extraordinary cluster” of technology and life science companies, but that “we now need to bring those companies closer together to create an enterprise culture that encourages entrepreneurs to create new companies that will either become world players themselves or be the basis for expansion of existing companies. This early activation centre will play a critical role in delivering on this vision.”

The first phase of the district incorporates the following elements:

  1. A 5,500 square metre Innovation Hub with space for early stage start-ups, research-active corporates, a meeting space to activate the innovation community in Dublin and a programme of activities for people who work and live in the local community;
  2. A new public square with café and seating, located on what is currently a car park.
  3. The Innovation Hub will incorporate the landmark tower located on the campus, which began life in 1862 as a sugar refinery, within its footprint

Located on the former site of L Connaughton & Sons Ltd in Grand Canal Dock, the Innovation Hub is one of several planned developments in the District, which will be transformed over the next ten years. The development is supported by two government grants – The Regional Enterprise Development Fund as enabled by Enterprise Ireland and the Urban Regeneration Development Fund as part of Project Ireland 2040.

“Investment in innovation is critical to ensure the future competitiveness of the Irish economy.”

Julie Sinnamon, CEO of Enterprise Ireland, said of this project: ”Investment in innovation is critical to ensure the future competitiveness of the Irish economy and Enterprise Ireland is delighted to support the development of the Grand Canal Innovation District under its Regional Enterprise Development Fund.

“The District will provide important collaboration space and opportunities for entrepreneurs, researchers, start-ups and corporate innovation teams to develop new research and innovative approaches to overcoming global challenges including urban living and climate change, and identifying new opportunities, for the benefit of society and the economy.”

Gareth Lambe, VP, International Business Planning & Operations & Head of Office, Facebook Ireland, said: “Ireland is an important part of the Facebook story, and the establishment of the Grand Canal Innovation District is an exciting project which has the potential to further enhance Ireland’s attractiveness as a location for companies to establish and scale their businesses.”

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