Donegal Digital is an innovative public-private partnership established in 2014 as a response to the growing importance of digital for the future of the County and region.
"Donegal Digital is proving to be a real asset for the County!", states Dr Margaret Quinn, DD project leader. Led by Donegal County Council, it is a unique inter-agency project which has positive and active engagement from organisations and businesses from across the County. The group’s efforts concern a range of evolving information technology and digital initiatives, all aimed at driving innovation, economic development and job creation in the county. The partnership is quite a rarity both in the Country and wider afield. Furthermore, it is recognised at European level as a best practice innovation ecosystem for regional development. Many regions around Europe are actually trying to establish similar partnerships right now as vehicles to respond to the challenges of digital.
Initially the team had staff from Donegal County Council, Letterkenny Institute of Technology, the statutory agencies responsible for the economic development of the county, i.e., Enterprise Ireland, Údarás na Gaeltachta and the Industrial Development Authority. Pramerica, the largest hi-tech employer in the county, represented the private sector, and Fáilte Ireland the tourism industry - a key Donegal economic sector. Finally, the ERNACT network provides specialist digital transformation expertise and the approach and methodology promoted by the European Union for the development of regional digital agenda plans.
So, what is the role of Donegal Digital?
Donegal Digital activities are aimed not only at avoiding “being left behind” in the digital age but instead ensuring that the County can thrive and grasp the opportunities it offers. The group does this through actions to support digital technology growth in the region, to build quality, sustainable and connected communities, reflective of our values and culture.
Currently the partnership has 13 local organizations, companies, agencies and institutions who collaborate together to promote digitally literate communities, to co-build sustainable enterprises and societal services. Regarding the ongoing action plan
, it has three main objectives:
- increase digital research and innovation
- build strong Donegal digital communities
- deepen the Letterkenny digital cluster
A crucial foundation is availability of high bandwidth broadband
and the partnership has added substantial value, via the Council, in early identification of broadband connection points to connect rural facilities, establishing free public wifi
services at multiple locations and co-ordinating with the National Broadband operator for smooth broadband roll-out. The partnership identified a need for "digital innovation hubs
" and facilitates the development of existing and new hubs in the County. A current priority task is working with LYIT to develop a plan for increased investment in Donegal's digital research capacity
. In development is an open data portal
for digital training courses from multiple training
providers to support ease of access.
In the next news item, more can be explained on the various actions underway and in planning so watch this space!