Taoiseach Leo Varadkar launched plans this morning for a new Grand Canal Innovation District in Dublin, including a €1 billion Trinity campus on Grand Canal Quay. The district is set to be a hub for talent, investment and jobs in Dublin’s docklands.
Varadkar explained his hopes for the initiative, including its potential to create jobs in Dublin and to foster balanced development in the area to benefit the local community. Varadkar noted that Ireland’s talented workforce and competitive corporation tax have already attracted many high-tech companies, but the government must continue to make Ireland attractive to investment.
“As the world changes around us, we must continuously adapt and future-proof our economy. The development of the Grand Canal Innovation District is an exciting opportunity to build a world-class innovation district where companies, researchers and entrepreneurs link up, to identify new products or services and discuss how they might be brought to market,” said Varadkar this morning.
Trinity’s Innovation and Enterprise Office are leading the project, which is modelled on innovation districts in cities like Rotterdam, Barcelona, and Kendall Square near Boston. The Secretary General at the Department of An Taoiseach, Martin Fraser, is chairing an advisory group to support the proposal’s development.
Provost Patrick Prendergast outlined his enthusiasm for the innovation district, calling Trinity’s new campus at the location a “catalyst” for collaboration between industry and universities. A 5.5-acre site near Grand Canal Quay and Macken Street has been designated for the campus, which will be funded by Trinity in partnership with industry and debt funding entities.
Prendergast explained that the new campus, which is focused on technology and innovation, is set to work closely with the local community living in the Grand Canal area. “A campus of style and impact, with open spaces, ease of access and new retail spaces and services will spark further urban regeneration in the area as well as create educational and employment opportunities for all those living in close proximity to the district,” said Prendergast.
Dublin’s universities have agreed on a memorandum of understanding, which Trinity’s Chief Innovation and Enterprise Officer, Dr Diarmuid O’Brien, welcomed as an indication of their intent to collaborate on developing the Innovation District. O’Brien explained that working in partnership would lead to “mutual gain” for the institutions, alongside collaboration from existing enterprise, start up and residential communities.
“The Grand Canal Innovation District will create an internationally visible focal point for excellence in research and innovation in Ireland,” said O’ Brien. “It will provide the scale, critical mass and density to resonate with the best global companies and to fully realise the ambitions of Ireland’s indigenous start-up and scaling companies.”
Minister for Education and Skills Richard Bruton also welcomed this morning’s announcement, anticipating a high rate of job and economic growth for the whole country as a result of Dublin’s Innovation District. Bruton also commended the involvement of third-level institutions in the project, including Trinity.
“The most successful innovation districts have a world class university as an anchor tenant to provide stability to the district, to act as the connector to a deep talent pipeline of graduates and to be innovation-thought engine through faculty and researchers as well as being a social and cultural centre,” said Bruton.
The announcement took place this morning at the Lir Academy. A consultation period will now follow the announcement.
Plans for Trinity’s new technology campus were originally announced last year, but the proposal received a new lease of life with today’s announcement. The campus will include a research institute, start-up hub, private area and student rooms. Trinity’s new enterprise hub could allow up to 480 companies to rent office spaces in the area.