An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar T.D., launched a far-reaching plan for the creation of the Grand Canal Innovation District in Dublin today. The proposal from Trinity College Dublin is modelled on innovation districts in cities such as Boston, Toronto, Rotterdam and Barcelona. It will significantly strengthen Ireland’s competitive advantage when developing new indigenous companies or competing for foreign direct investment. A memorandum of understanding has been agreed between Dublin’s universities and a special government-led advisory group established which is aimed at developing the new district which will include the proposed development of a new €1 billion Trinity campus at Grand Canal Quay.
Speaking about the initiative, the Taoiseach said: “I am really excited about this plan to further develop the Silicon Docks as an Innovation District involving a collaboration of business, Government and the university sector. It speaks eloquently to our vision of making Ireland the tech capital of Europe and our plans to ensure that the jobs of the future are created first here in Ireland. The development of the District will also help to ensure the continued balanced development of the area to the benefit of the local community.”
“Many high-tech companies already have their European headquarters here, we have a young and talented workforce, a consistent and competitive corporation tax regime and a strong reputation for attracting and encouraging investment. However, we can’t take this for granted and we always need to look at ways to improve Ireland’s competitive edge.”
“We have to ask ourselves; how can we market Ireland and Dublin as the ideal location for the next wave of investment? As the world changes around us, we must continuously adapt and future-proof our economy. The development of the Grand Canal Innovation District is an exciting opportunity to build a world-class innovation district where companies, researchers and entrepreneurs link up, to identify new products or services and discuss how they might be brought to market.”
At the heart of the planned innovation district is a planned €1bn campus which will be built and financed by Trinity in collaboration with industry, debt funding entities and other sources of funding.
The Provost of Trinity, Dr Patrick Prendergast, said: “The presence of a world class university at the heart of the Grand Canal Innovation District will be the catalyst for collaboration and partnership between industry and universities. I am therefore delighted to announce that Trinity has decided after much thought to commit to taking the historic step of developing a second campus dedicated to technology and innovation on a designated site adjacent to Grand Canal Quay and Macken Street in the heart of the district. This 5.5-acre site is ideally suited to the proposed use and will transform the existing area.”
Dr Prendergast said the involvement of the local community living in the Grand Canal area will be a key factor: “Working closely with the local community, a campus of style and impact, with open spaces, ease of access and new retail spaces and services will spark further urban regeneration in the area as well as create educational and employment opportunities for all those living in close proximity to the district.”
There has also been a broad welcome to the announcement of the establishment of the special advisory group to develop a roadmap for the Grand Canal Innovation District, to be chaired by the Secretary General at the Department of An Taoiseach, Martin Fraser.
The Chief Innovation and Enterprise Officer at Trinity College, Dr Diarmuid O’Brien welcomed the fact that a new memorandum of understanding between the main Dublin universities to work collectively on the development of the Innovation District proposal has been agreed. “For this vision to succeed we need the existing enterprise, start-up and residential communities – as well as Dublin’s leading academic institutions – to work together to support this initiative for mutual gain. The Grand Canal Innovation District will create an internationally visible focal point for excellence in research and innovation in Ireland. It will provide the scale, critical mass and density to resonate with the best global companies and to fully realise the ambitions of Ireland’s indigenous start-up and scaling companies.”
Welcoming today’s announcement, Minister for Education and Skills, Mr. Richard Bruton T.D., said that the Innovation District would deliver a vital link between academia and enterprise: “An innovation district for Ireland is a truly generational opportunity for Dublin and one that promises to deliver a high rate of job and economic growth for the country as a whole. Innovation districts are recognised globally for having higher levels of knowledge workers and are drivers of patent activity; two key areas which the OECD view as opportunities for improvement for Ireland. I applaud the collaboration between the Dublin universities on this project - the most successful innovation districts have a world class university as an anchor tenant to provide stability to the district, to act as the connector to a deep talent pipeline of graduates and to be innovation-thought engine through faculty and researchers as well as being a social and cultural centre.”
Today’s launch event also marked the start of a major local consultation process involving the key stakeholders in the vicinity - international companies and Irish businesses based in the Grand Canal area, community representatives, government and state agencies as well as tech and business sector representatives and social and cultural bodies.
The consultation process will culminate in the development of a masterplan proposal for the Grand Canal Innovation District which will be developed over the coming months.
This release was first published 12 July by Trinity College Dublin.