On the 25th of May the Governor of the Central Bank of Ireland, Gabriel Makhlouf, visited CoLab innovation hub in Letterkenny, County Donegal, to discuss Donegal's plans for ensuring the County makes a successful transition to the digital economy.
The Governor met with stakeholders from the North West, including companies, communities and the public sector, who have been working together for several years in the Donegal Digital project with the aim of progressing County Donegal's digital transformation.
Paul Hannigan, Donegal Campus Director at the Atlantic Technological University (ATU) welcomed Governor Makhlouf to Donegal and to the CoLab innovation hub. Margaret Quinn, ERNACT Programme Manager and responsible of Donegal Digital, provided an overview of the Donegal Digital project and how the local Digital Innovation hubs fit into the overall county digital transformation action plan.
After a brief presentation of Donegal Digital, the representatives present from development agencies, hub client companies, hub professionals and local enterprises had the opportunity to discuss about relevant factors impacting the successful transition of Donegal to a knowledge-based economy.
One area discussed was how to attract people to Donegal with representatives of the development agencies recognising that many people have a desire to return home. Also highlighted was the role of diaspora and the wonderful quality of life as an attractive incentive to return to the Northwest. The new Altantic Technological University, a strong tech ecosystem and a local talent pool were seen as positive factors for the region. With a growing cluster of digi-tech enterprises in the County, now it is possible to have rewarding career paths all within the County or the North West region.
The importance of the innovation Hubs as catalysts and the council’s remote working strategy were discussed as key responses post-covid. It was however noted that the region needs improved physical infrastructure for economic growth. In particular it was felt that road connectivity will become increasingly important to support the development of the region’s off-shore energy potential.
The hub manager attendees noted the importance of businesses in the Northwest being seen as having the same access to support as businesses in Dublin or Cork.
The Governor Makhlouf wanted to know what the impact of Brexit in the region was. The attendees remarked that there weren’t many positive impacts from Brexit, however they shared that it has put the Northwest “back on the map”, and there has been an increase in interest and investment to the Northwest.
After the meeting in Colab in Letterkenny Governor Makhlouf met with other businesses, fisheries representatives, and students from across Donegal during his day-long visit. The visit is one of a series of local events that the Governor will attend around Ireland this year.