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The government wants to make Dublin more like Boston, Barcelona and Paris

A new Trinity College campus site will serve as the centre of the ‘Grand Canal Innovation District’.

plan The 'Grand Canal Innovation District' in Dublin city. Source: GCID report

A REPORT PUBLISHED by the government today has made a series of recommendations for the development of the so-called ‘Grand Canal Innovation District’ in Dublin city.

The initiative is part of the government’s aim to make Ireland the tech capital of Europe.

Over the next decade Trinity College Dublin is due develop a new campus site adjacent to Grand Canal Quay that will serve as the centre of the district. The government is due to commit €150 million towards the total expected cost of capital of €1.1 billion.

The Grand Canal Innovation District (GCID), which was announced by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in July 2018, will be modelled on similar successful initiatives which have been put in place in other cities worldwide.

An innovation district is an urban location comprising research-oriented institutions and companies ranging from startups, SMEs and large corporations. Notable examples include Kendall Square in Boston, 22@ in Barcelona and Station F in Paris.

An advisory group, chaired by Martin Fraser, the Secretary General to the government, was established to develop plans for such a district in Dublin. The group includes representatives of business, universities, the local community and the public service.

Among the recommendations of the group’s first report are:

  • The development of the district with a university innovation campus at its physical centre
  • Establishment of new multi-institutional research centre specialising in technology to tackle the world’s most challenging problems in a cross-disciplinary manner
  • Establishment of a large start-up hub with shared infrastructure to allow scientists and companies to progress developments in digital technology and associated applications
  • Establishment of a community liaison group to understand how the needs of the local community can best be taken into account
  • Establishment of an innovation hub network that would link Ireland’s leading innovation centres to provide strong regional connectivity

The report also recommends that the advisory group be reconstituted to “oversee the next steps in development of the wider innovation district”.

It notes that establishing an innovation district could “help position Ireland for future investment in an unsettled post-Brexit environment”.

€1.1 billion cost 

An economic cost benefit analysis, carried out by Indecon on behalf of Trinity College Dublin, calculated total economic benefit of €3.2 billion from the development of the proposed innovation campus at the centre of the district.

Thousands of jobs are expected to be created during construction and once the project is complete. 

The report notes that examples of successful innovation districts include Cambridge in Massachusetts, Barcelona, Toronto, London, Rotterdam and Eindhoven.

“These districts demonstrate high concentrations of workers in the knowledge economy and are drivers of new discoveries and patents.

“They have attracted further investment to their regions, provided homes for local entrepreneurs, facilitated connections to capital and customers and provided education and training opportunities for local students and senior leaders,” the document notes.

grand canal Source: GCID report

beneifts Source: GCID report

Speaking about the report, Varadkar said: “We are really serious about making Ireland the tech capital of Europe.

“We have so many of the right ingredients; a young and talented workforce, a competitive corporate tax environment and of course many of the world’s top tech firms already have their European headquarters here.”

The Taoiseach added that the plan will bring together business, government and the university sector to “maximise the Silicon Docks as an innovation district where companies, researchers and entrepreneurs link up”. 

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Órla Ryan

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