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Planning permisson granted to turn Dún Laoghaire ferry terminal building into Harbour Innovation Campus

  • €20m investment to transform iconic building

  • 7,000sqm digital hub will be largest in Ireland and top five in Europe

  • Development will support up to 1,000 jobs

Planning permission has been granted by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council to transform the former ferry passenger terminal on St Michael’s Pier into the Harbour Innovation Campus, a digital technology hub which will be able to support up to 1,000 jobs.

Council planners have given the green light to a project by private investor Philip Gannon to lease the iconic building and invest more than €20m transforming it into a unique enterprise space.

At more than 7,000 sqm, the Harbour Innovation Campus will be the largest technology hub in Ireland and one of the top five in Europe. The outside will remain unchanged but inside, leading global companies will innovate and collaborate with start-ups, SMEs, academic institutions and state enterprise agencies to develop and apply advances in technology.

The result will be a one-stop shop for companies that want to rapidly apply advances in technologies such as IoT, blockchain, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, block chain, cyber security, data analytics and 5G, to sectors such as agriculture, health, finance, manufacturing and finance.

The ferry terminal has lain empty since sailings were discontinued in 2015 and the development has been welcomed by business and political leaders. The granting of planning permission means there is now a once in a lifetime opportunity to attract the world’s best-known technology companies to Dún Laoghaire and enhance the town’s growing reputation as a digital hub.

The Harbour Innovation Campus is 100% funded by private investment and will deliver revenue of almost €15m in rent and rates over the next 10 years, while the employment created will result in an estimated additional spend of around €6m each year on local businesses in the town.

The Harbour Innovation Campus benefits from a coastal location and excellent transport links. The building will provide a platform dedicated to innovation for a carefully curated ecosystem and will include accelerator programs, meet up space, training rooms, a café, meetings rooms and ‘maker’ space.

The internal fit out of the building is expected to start next month, and it will be ready to open in Spring 2019. There are also plans to open smaller regional Harbour Digital Innovation Hubs across Ireland over the next three years. These hubs will be strategically located to provide a local business with the skills, knowledge, training and resources required to apply disruptive technology to specific projects.

Philip Gannon, the founder, CEO and private investor behind the project, said: “We have received overwhelming support from local residents and businesses who all understand the huge benefits that this project will bring to the area. This culturally significant building has been lying empty for over four years and is quickly falling into a state of dereliction and decay. A place where people used to go to emigrate will now become world-class innovation space that will showcase Ireland’s capabilities in technology, create employment and bring social and economic prosperity not only to Dún Laoghaire and the surrounding areas, but the country as a whole”.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen TD, said: “I am pleased with the news from the Harbour Innovation Campus on the creation of a new Digital Innovation Hub. The type of co-operation between large multinationals, SMEs and academics that occurs in these hubs can generate exciting opportunities. I am also excited about the prospects that the Harbour Innovation Campus offers for the local economy in Dún Laoghaire, the potential for national growth that a project of this size represents and the ambitions of the Harbour Innovation Campus to establish satellite hubs around the country. This will provide important opportunities for our regions to benefit from growth in the digital arena. Finally, I would like to say that the aspirations of the Harbour Innovation Campus very much reflect the Government’s own desire to reap the benefits of digitalisation for the whole of Ireland and to play a significant part in digitilisation within Europe.”

Leo Clancy, Head of Technology, Consumer and Business Services, at IDA Ireland, said: “I am delighted to welcome this significant investment in Dún Laoghaire, which represents another great vote of confidence for Ireland’s technology sector and our ability to supply highly-skilled workers. Ireland has become the global technology hub of choice when it comes to attracting the strategic business activities of digitally focused companies and is now home to 16 of the top 20 global software engineering companies, demonstrating our proven track record in this area. This new hub will greatly assist IDA Ireland in attracting future high value investments.”

Niall McEvoy, Manager ICT (HPSU Accelerate), Enterprise Ireland, said: “Enterprise Ireland welcomes the potential that the Harbour Innovation Campus will bring to the area, with the focus of the Campus being to cultivate, develop and collaborate with indigenous start-ups and SMEs. As the State Agency responsible for supporting the development and growth of Irish companies globally, Enterprise Ireland believes it will be a great addition to Dún Laoighaire-Rathdown and will attract sustainable economic growth for the area and the companies that locate there”

Owen Laverty, Head of Enterprise and Economics DLR, said: “The development of the old ferry terminal into a leading innovation campus supporting collaboration and innovation is important for DLR. The HIC strongly aligns with our aims of growing DLR's reputation as a premier destination for technology companies to innovate and grow, I look forward to working with the HIC team in realising this goal.”

Ends

For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact Craig McKechnie at The Content Partnership on 015313532 / 0876218839 or by email at craig@thecontentpartnership.ie

Notes for the Editor:

  • The Harbour Innovation Campus (HIC) is Ireland's largest digital innovation hub, strategically located in a former ferry terminal on Dún Laoghaire Harbour.
  • HIC provides a platform where companies large and small can collaborate with government agencies academic institutions, to apply technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, internet of things and blockchain to sectors including manufacturing, smart cities, agri-tech, robotics and marine-tech.
  • HIC is the brainchild of Dublin businessman Philip Gannon, who is investing up to €20m on the project over the next 10 years. When fully operational, the campus will provide a unique platform for innovation to an ecosystem of up to 1,000 members from over 50 different companies.
  • This one-stop shop for innovation will showcase Ireland's capabilities in technology and will become a focal point where businesses (large and small) to engage with academic institutions and government agencies, to deliver commercially viable products and services.
  • The Harbour Innovation Campus is expected to open in Spring 2019 and will create significant economic and social benefits for both Dún Laoghaire town and the State.
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