Skibbereen gets gigabit digital Hub
The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD has opened a new digital hub in Skibbereen, county Cork, called the Ludgate Hub.
Originally a cinema from the 1940s, the Hub now boasts fully fibre-optic, gigabit connectivity for its 930 sq metres of space.
The Ludgate Hub is part of an initiative to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem in the West Cork region, with ambitions for 500 jobs over five years, with an initial 75 jobs in the start-up phase. The hub is fully operational and has more than 30 sign-ups to work from the premises.
Businesses operating from the Hub cited its broadband speed as a primary reason for establishing operations there. The telecoms partner is Vodafone Ireland, with other partners including SIRO and ESB.
The AIB-backed initiative is the result of the efforts of a group of entrepreneurs, digital ambassadors and local business owners, who were brought together by West Cork resident and Glen Dimplex group president, Seán O’Driscoll. The group operates as a non-profit company and worked on a pro-bono basis over the last two years to bring the initiative to fruition.
The board secured €1 million in investment to kick-start the project and create a digital blueprint for the town of Skibbereen. The group aim was to establish the town as “a beacon of innovation” and to provide start-ups with the environment and mentoring support required to research and commercialise opportunities to compete on a global scale.
The minister said she was delighted to promote the creation of a strong foundation for local business. “I believe only a strong economy supporting people at work can pay for the services needed to create a fair society,” said the minister.
“At its core, the rationale behind the Ludgate Hub is employment which will help to create a sustainable future for rural areas,” said Sean O’Driscoll, president, Glen Dimplex Group and Ludgate board member. “Over the last decade many towns and villages in West Cork, and indeed across Ireland, have been devastated by recession and emigration. The Ludgate Hub which is powered by 1,000 Mbps of broadband opens up enormous new opportunities for West Cork. This new digital age will make the impossible possible and consign geographic economical disadvantages to history and reinvigorate rural areas in its wake.”
“The overarching aim of the initiative is the creation of a blueprint Gigabit town for other rural areas, once disadvantaged by geography, but now enabled by the rapid development of the digital world,” said Anne O’Leary, CEO, Vodafone Ireland, and Ludgate board member. “Skibbereen has begun a transition, made possible by the arrival of 100% fibre optic broadband, and is leading the way for similar communities to become part of a Gigabit society in Ireland. We believe that the Ludgate approach will encourage other towns and villages across Ireland to galvanise local resources and think of a bottom up approach to local economic development.”
“The launch of the Ludgate Hub is the moment that life in Skibbereen changes forever as it opens up a new world of possibilities,” said Sean Atkinson, CEO, SIRO. “We have already seen people and businesses relocating to Skibbereen from places like Barcelona and Chicago in anticipation of the launch, which just goes to show how important 100% fibre optic broadband technology is in attracting investment in rural Ireland. What’s more, as a Gigabit town, Skibbereen’s young people have the potential to create the next Google or Facebook right here rather than having to move to urban areas to fulfil their ambition.”