The development partnership driving the Donegal Digital Action Plan, a key strand in Donegal’s overall development strategy, welcomes the news that the county has been awarded substantial funding from Enterprise Ireland to develop a Digital Innovation Hub in Inishowen (County Donegal, Ireland).
The partnership includes Donegal County Council, LYIT, Enterprise Ireland, IDA, Údarás na Gaeltachta, Pramerica, Fáilte Ireland and ERNACT.
The creation of digital innovation hubs in key locations across the County was a key action identified by the partnership and the Inishowen peninsula is one such location. In addition to the existing hubs in Letterkenny (CoLab) and Gaoth Dobhair (Aíslann), there are also plans to develop digital co-working spaces in Carrigart, Aran Island and Kilcar.
Welcoming the announcement, Donegal Digital Chairperson, Brian Boyle, stated that “Successfully landing this project demonstrates the added-value of sustained and meaningful cooperation between the county’s development agencies, the Council, 3rd level and private sectors within the framework of a Digital Strategy to deliver concrete investment that can positively impact on jobs and people’s lives”
The hub will be a focus for connecting Inishowen to the wider regional tech ecosystem to provide a range of innovation, technology transfer and enterprise support services from LYIT/CoLab, IDA, EI and LEO to potential start-ups and existing small businesses. It also helps to meet the local demand from small digital enterprises and entrepreneurs for office/co-working space and from tech multinationals for high quality work space near to pools of highly skilled workers.
LYIT President, Paul Hannigan stated that “the Inishowen Hub provided a mechanism to extend the college’s strategy of delivering innovation and research services at a sub-County level and to support Donegal County Council’s, Tier Two towns strategy. Our experience with CoLab in our main campus in Letterkenny, can now be leveraged for enterprises and communities in the Inishowen Peninsula”
Inishowen has a population catchment of 200,000 within a 30-minute drive, mainly due to the City of Derry on its southern border. Its population of 40,000 is 25% larger than Co. Leitrim and the same as Co. Longford. It is equal in size to the Letterkenny Municipal District.
Its largest town, Buncrana, (also Donegal’s second largest town), has access to a university and two further 3rd-level institutions within this catchment, i.e., Ulster University (Derry), LYIT (Letterkenny) and North West College (Derry). Together they produce a total of approximately 3,000 information technology, business and design students each year. Inishowen also has a regional airport (City of Derry) with international connections to London and other major UK airport hubs.
Donegal Digital has three objectives: Increase digital research and innovation in County Donegal; Build strong Donegal digital communities; Deepen the Letterkenny digital cluster.
The plan contains nine concrete actions that can be a catalyst for:
- Creating additional start-ups in the tech sector in County Donegal
- Encouraging existing businesses to use digital processes, increasing their ability to compete, sell additional products and services and create more jobs.
- Improve the innovation potential of the county by launching new research initiatives with the 3rd level sector
- Improve the digital skills of workers through delivery of new training courses.
- Enable the public sector in Donegal to build on its track-record of creating new digital public services for citizens and business.