There was surprise and disappointment today at the decision of the Government to dissolve the Digital Hub Development Agency following a recommendation by the Minister for Environment, Climate & Communications.
Established in 2003 as an incubator for tech and media firms, The Digital Hub has contributed to the transformation and growth of Ireland’s digital technology sector, with its campus in Dublin 8 that has in hosted over 400 companies with more than 2,000 employees. The Digital Hub has been home to a vibrant mix of both indigenous startups and inward-investment firms, with alumni including Stripe, Amazon, Havok and Slack.
Founded with a strong community development remit, The Digital Hub has also engaged actively over the years local community and runs a range of education, training and awareness-raising programmes to promote digital literacy and 21st century skills such as collaboration, creativity, communication and critical thinking, particularly among school children, and older residents in the community. Succesful programmes such as Future Creators, Liber8 and digital skills training have created sigificant opportunities for young and old to participate in the new digital economy.
The development of The Digital Hub’s property portfolio had already made a significant contribution to the regeneration and revitalisation of Dublin 8 area, and the years ahead would have seen further positive developments.
It has been announced that the Land Development Agency (LDA) is to take over the development of the DHDA property portfolio, a move that comes as the two agencies have been working together since 2019 to develop a masterplan for the DHDA lands. The DHDA initiated this partnership and signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the LDA in 2020.
A spokesperson for the DHDA noted that “the DHDA and the LDA share a vision for the creation of an integrated city quarter, with a sustainable mix of residential and commercial development, with an enterprise cluster focused on social needs, rooted in the local community. The DHDA’s priority now is to minimise the impact of the dissolution on its companies, local community and staff. The Department of the Environment, Climate & Communications has confirmed to us that The Digital Hub will remain open for client companies and maintain its existing community programmes until at least the end of June 2022.”
Paul Holden, Chair of the Digital Hub Development Agency, said:
“The Board of The Digital Hub was surprised to learn that the Agency is to be dissolved, and extremely disappointed that our ambition to build an enterprise cluster focused on e-health, climate action and other significant social and economic challenges, rooted in the local community, was not shared. We will endeavour to ensure the smooth transfer of responsibilities and the continuation of the regeneration activity in Dublin 8. Based on our discussion with the LDA, I am confident that it will work closely with the community to ensure that the DHDA property portfolio is developed for the benefit of Irish society.”
Fiach Mac Conghail, CEO of the Digital Hub Development Agency said:
“I am disappointed by the Government’s decision to abolish The Digital Hub and regret that the Minister and the Department didn’t share our vision for creating a sustainable urban quarter in the Liberties. We will continue to support our companies and our partners for the next 14 months and in the coming weeks we will agree with the Department of the Environment, Climate & Communications and the Land Development Agency the schedule for an orderly transfer of ownership.”
Over the past five years, I witnessed how The Digital Hub supported visionary entrepreneurs and technology companies solving problems to the betterment of Irish society. The Digital Hub played a vital role in job creation and in supporting a vibrant enterprise eco-system, while at the same time engaging with our local community and partners in providing innovative and creative learning programmes to all generations in Dublin 8.”