Did you know that Donegal Digital aims to facilitate the development of existing and new Digital Innovation Hubs across the county? Our partnership, formed by 14 organisations, works together to continuously identify funding, facilitate infrastructure availability, promote collaboration and give support to IT entrepreneurs and companies interested in operating from Donegal.
This week, we want to tell you about another initiative promoted by the Donegal Digital partnership, a sub-group that has been recently created with the aim of further developing the network of hubs: the ‘Donegal Digital Hub Network’. Currently chaired by Leah Fairman, manager of The Base Digital Hub in Stranorlar, this sub-group focuses directly on the county’s Hubs network and facilitates their collaboration on service provision, marketing, sharing of know-how and experience on supporting systems and linking the hubs into the European context of (EDIH’s) European Digital Innovation Hubs.
Margaret Quinn, Donegal Digital project manager, explains that “Donegal Digital, working through this sub-group, seeks to support to develop and rollout out higher value innovation services to the hubs, living labs and knowledge transfer, and encourage innovation and service linkages with other European Hubs”. She mentions that hubs have a key role in connecting communities and businesses to each other and to remote resources and expertise. “In the future, the importance of digital technology will grow across all sectors so the hubs role as a local touchpoint keeping people and businesses current can also be expected to grow”, she adds.
Hubs, a tool for innovation
A new service in development which is closely connected to the Hubs is the Innovation as a Service (IaaS.live) which will connect the Hubs to centres of advanced technology expertise such as the Technology Gateway network around Ireland. “The need for this Enterprise Ireland funded service comes from a tidal wave of change coming in manufacturing powered by a set of advanced technologies, Industry 4.0 (I4.0) technologies, such as IoT (Internet of Things), 3D printing, Artificial Intelligence, Data analytics, Robotics, Cybersecurity and more”, continues Margaret.
According to the Project Manager, there is another factor which will impact the Hubs. At European level, Innovation Hubs are also being promoted as a key policy instrument for delivery of the digital agenda. In particular, European Digtial Innovation Hubs (EDIHs) are being established, with the aim of having one per region, to act as one-stop shops to help companies respond to the challenges of what is termed the fourth industrial revolution based on Industry 4.0 technologies. “The effort of Donegal Digital is for the Donegal Hub Network to play an active part in a regional EDIH. Donegal Digital, in this case represented by ERNACT, is assisting the Northern and Western Assembly (NWRA) to develop an EDIH for our region with Letterkenny Institute of Technology, National University of Ireland Galway and Údarás na Gaeltachta” along with other agencies, states Margaret.
There is growing recognition of the importance of university-industry and community collaboration as a vehicle for regional growth. According to the project manager, “there are really positive developments ahead here with the change of LYIT to a Technical University with a remit for applied research and LYIT strength in advanced digital technologies such as AI, IoT, Data analytics and cybersecurity. This bodes very well for the County. The Digital Hubs will have a role here as university out-reach and interaction points for businesses and communities”. In this way, with the rise in remote working due to the Covid-19, the hubs network also has a vital role to play as a co-working space for remote workers to have the availability of a place to blend home and a workspace and to have the opportunity to network with the local business community.