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The Digital Hub, Dublin - at the heart of digital innovation
by Startacus Admin
Silicon Valley may once have been the only location that was synonymous with technology and small innovative startups but there can be no denying that in the last number of years, it has started to have some competition. Both government led initiatives and organic grassroots clusters have emerged which have shifted the axis somewhat on the heart of digital innovation. One leading example of this is the Digital Hub in Dublin.
The Digital Hub is a vibrant cluster of digital content and technology enterprises, located on a nine-acre campus in the heart of Dublin City. It is managed by the Digital Hub Development Agency (DHDA). Established by the Irish Government in 2003, the Hub has been home to over 170 technology and digital content businesses since its inception. The initiative also has a significant learning and community development remit and a focus on regenerating the physical environment on its campus, in addition to its enterprise development work. The central location, range of services and supportive entrepreneurial environment at The Digital Hub make it the ideal centre for start-ups in the digital industry. Member companies benefit from proximity of other similar companies and the mentoring of an Enterprise Development Manager who is on hand to provide assistance and foster collaborations amongst new businesses. Events organised by the DHDA on an ongoing basis also provide support and promote networking and collaboration amongst the companies located at the Hub. One company to recently join The Digital Hub’s enterprise cluster is Blue Bear Technologies, a mobile software company specialising in children’s games and photography apps for iOS. Since its launch in 2010, Bluebear’s apps have been downloaded more than 20 million times through the Apple AppStore. Another recent addition to The Digital Hub is Yendo, a company producing financial accounting software for small businesses. Yendo is used by over 30,000 companies worldwide.
The state-of-the-art facilities at The Digital Hub are not limited to start-ups, however. The office space on offer is flexible in nature and ranges in size from 10 to 1,000 square metres. This means that more established and expanding businesses can be catered for, as well as one-person start-ups. Flexible, short-term leases are also available. The Digital Hub has had a great many success stories over the past nine years. Some of the most successful digital companies in Ireland have their roots at the Hub, including Amazon, Distilled Media, Gala Networks Europe, Popcap Games and Havok. These are part of the Digital Hub ‘alumni’, a network of successful companies that moved on from The Digital Hub, having reached a certain stage in their growth.
Amongst those companies currently located at the Hub, a number have enjoyed recent successes. Igloo Animations is a multi-award-winning company creating e-learning content for both adults and children. It was recently awarded a contract with Facebook who are going to use their service “Give me the Short Version”, which creates short videos for companies who wish to make complex topics easier to digest. They also received endorsement from the actor Stephen Fry regarding a video they had made about him. Iperior is a digital agency working in website design and creation, e-commerce, analytics, online marketing and communications. Retail Media Systems is a young and innovative software company, specialising in developing next-generation multimedia solutions for the retail industry. Its team develop digital menu boards for restaurants, in-store visual displays for retail and provide non-copyright music for businesses and stores. Click here to find out why companies such as these choose to locate in the Digital Hub.
There are currently 70 enterprises located at The Digital Hub. The project, however, is not just about the enterprises of today: it’s also about fostering digital skills within the local community and encouraging the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. Since the DHDA was established, there has been a dedicated learning team at The Digital Hub, which delivers digital skills programmes in local primary and secondary schools, as well as community-based training. Future Creators is just one of the programmes that has been developed by the learning team at the Hub. The programme, which was delivered over the past academic year in collaboration with the National College of Art and Design (NCAD), is aimed at local talented teenagers who were at risk of early school-leaving. The 20 participants in the programme attended after-school sessions on a weekly basis throughout the academic year, where they learned how to build and launch their own digital products and services. The majority of the participants chose to develop iPhone apps, with others opting for film, gaming, photography, audio and digital embroidery projects. The learning team at The Digital Hub believes that the mainstreaming of programmes like Future Creators – and the integration of digital into the school syllabus – is vital to address skills shortages in Ireland’s ICT and digital industries.
In addition to highlighting the importance of effectively incorporating digital into Ireland’s education syllabus, The Digital Hub also uses a variety of tactics to promote the benefits to SMEs of being online. One such example is the Winning with Web initiative. This project is aimed at highlighting small companies that have grown, expanded and transformed their success by getting online. Participating businesses will benefit from being included on The Digital Hub’s online roll-call of local businesses that are ‘Winning With Web’. They will be profiled on the Digital Hub website, in the Digital Hub newsletter, social networks (such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube), and national, regional and local press. The success of The Digital Hub project – in terms of enterprise development, community learning and regeneration – was acknowledged by the Irish Government in recent months, with the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs recognising the role of the Hub in sustaining new jobs and enterprise.
Further information about The Digital Hub is available at: www.thedigitalhub.com and if you are interested in finding out about locating your own start-up business at The Digital Hub, please email [email protected] for some more details..