Monday 16 July 2018

Grand plans: Trinity thinks big with €1bn technology and innovation hub

Provost of Trinity College Dublin, Dr Patrick Prendergast; Iseult Ward, co-founder of FoodCloud; and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the Grand Canal Innovation District launch. Photo: Naoise Culhane
Provost of Trinity College Dublin, Dr Patrick Prendergast; Iseult Ward, co-founder of FoodCloud; and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the Grand Canal Innovation District launch. Photo: Naoise Culhane
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

Move over Kendall Square, Boston - Dublin is aiming to lay claim to having "the most innovative square mile on the planet" on a site overlooking Grand Canal Quay.

Trinity College Dublin (TCD) has unveiled plans for the Grand Canal Innovation District (GCID), a high-tech quarter where multinationals, new talent and university expertise will rub shoulders and collaborate.

The vision is an ecosystem that will allow for the cross-fertilisation and nurturing of ideas between companies, researchers and entrepreneurs and, in the process, become an international magnet for talent, investment and jobs.

The GCID will be located on a 5.5 acre site bounded by Macken Street, Pearse Street, Grand Canal Quay and the rail line. It may not equate to a square mile, but its ambition is to measure up to 'innovation district' pioneers around the world. Kendall Square is one and others are found in cities including Rotterdam, Toronto and Barcelona.

Many global tech giants, such as Google and Facebook, have their European headquarters in close proximity to Grand Canal Quay and the area is also home to a host of start-ups.

Stephen McIntyre, former MD of Twitter Ireland, said the multinational and start-up sectors in Dublin were like two unconnected cities and he welcomed the university/innovation district link-up "as the way to bridge the two".

At the core of the GCID will be a new €1bn TCD campus, dedicated to technology and innovation, a short distance from its main city base.

Trinity Provost Dr Patrick Prendergast said the presence of a world class university would be "the catalyst for collaboration and partnership between industry and universities".

The GCID has the full backing of the Government, which has set up an advisory group led by the secretary general of the Department of the Taoiseach.

While Trinity will be the anchor university, University College Dublin (UCD), Dublin City University (DCU), and Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), soon to be the country's first technological university, will also be involved.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the project "spoke eloquently of the vision to make Ireland the tech capital of Europe and plans to ensure that the jobs of the future were created first in Ireland".

He promised the development would "also help to ensure the continued balanced development of the area to the benefit of the local community".

A consultation process is now getting under way, with a view to having a masterplan by the end of the year.

Irish Independent

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