Today the Western Development Commission and the Department of Community and Rural Development have launched their National Hubs Network Survey.
This survey is an opportunity for hubs around the country to engage with the governments National Hubs Network initiative. The data gathered by this survey will form the first national registry of hubs, which will allow Ireland’s hubs to be viewed, not just as stand-alone entities, but as a significant piece of collective infrastructure that can help to drive economic recovery and regeneration for communities throughout Ireland.
This project builds on the work of the Atlantic Economic Corridor Hubs initiative which The Western Development Commission and the AEC officer network have been working on for 18 months.
The development of a shared network of hubs, based on this registry, presents significant opportunities for both rural and urban communities to transform the way they live and work. This network of hubs provides a valuable solution for employers and employees seeking to adopt remote working arrangements. For employers, hubs offer the chance to have their employees working closer to home but still within an office environment. For employees, hubs offer the benefits of a reduced commute, access to office facilities, and reduce the risk of isolation or loneliness.
This network of high-quality hubs equipped with high-speed broadband and modern office facilities will provide a solution for those who are often required to travel around the country for work and aids the transition of employees moving from a fixed to a blended workplace model. The National Hub Network initiative will also support the development of a dynamic and creative community, supported by online services that will allow workers from different firms to mix, build relationships and exchange knowledge and best practices.
The National Hub Network will have a transformative impact on local economies and communities and can help to drive a more equal distribution of high-value knowledge economy roles throughout the country. With hubs in cities, towns, villages and townlands across the country the network will facilitate many to work where they want to, increasing regional employment and lowering transport emissions. It will also help to drive our collective understanding of ‘remote working’ in a post-Covid19 Ireland as something that happens not just in the home, but in the heart of thriving local communities.
The Western Development Commission and the Department of Community and Rural Affairs are now planning to roll out this National Hubs Network. By completing this survey, you will ensure that your hub is part of Irelands post pandemic digital recovery. By engaging with this process, you will be kept up to date on funding, timelines, onboarding, marketing campaigns and other important information.
Fáisc Miotal Éirinn Teoranta – Trading as Irish Pressings is a company based in the heart of the Gaeltacht region of Donegal. They are market leaders in their field of designing and manufacturing press tools and parts primarily to the automotive industry. Today, we speak to Karen Campbell, Sales and Logistics Manager, and Ben McGonagle, Business Analyst, from Irish Pressings to learn more about the company, the challenges and opportunities of Covid-19, doing business in the Gaeltacht and their plans for the future.
The business was founded by brothers Declan and Brendan Ward in 2005 who, after years spent developing and honing their skills, knowledge and expertise in the automotive industry, decided to seize the opportunity and return to their native Gaoth Dobhair. The brothers knew that they could be successful and competitive despite, as Karen said “a lot of feedback from the automotive industry telling them that setting up an automotive company in rural North-West Donegal was an absolutely crazy idea, they believed in the capabilities, the skills and the talents that lie in the local area”.
Karen explains that the focus recently has been on “developing the Irish Pressings name, building the team of people that we have here and winning new business”. The business since 2005 has grown from 3 employees to 76 staff on site winning important contracts with international car manufacturers. “We are covering BMW, Honda, Jaguar Land Rover, Opel, Volkswagen, and Audi. You could be in Barcelona or Munich or Milan and if you see one of those cars, parts of it have come from Gaoth Dobhair” explains Karen.
Irish Pressings have carved out a niche for themselves within the automotive industry through innovative designs and service. A key element of the service Irish Pressings provides their customers is a partnership experience and as Karen points out “From the very outset, we get actively involved with the customer on the project. We run simulations and trials on customer parts and we can propose amendments to the part.”
Engineering Manufacturing Team of the Year Awards Ceremony 2020: Vincent Wall (Newstalk), Declan Ward (Managing Director – Irish Pressings), Karen Campbell (Sales & Logistics Manager – Irish Pressings), Sarah Mulholland (Finance – Irish Pressings)
Over the years, Irish Pressings has showcased its adaptability and flexibility. Ben explains how they have adapted their business operations as a result of the pandemic and learn how to overcome these challenges. “The ability to have virtual meetings at any time and show our customers the tools and parts they commissioned directly from the factory floor gave us the confidence that we were progressing with the work and they could see the quality standard”. “We see a time of economic uncertainty as a period of great opportunity” says Ben, an optimistic and refreshing attitude that has stood them in good stead in recent years.
The strong ties with the community strongly influenced their decision to establish the business in Gaoth Dobhair. Karen believes that there are no barriers to setting up in rural Donegal saying “if you are committed and focused and bring in good people who are willing to learn, they will drive the business forward”. The beauty of the surrounding scenery has had a significant impact on their customers and Karen explains “people come here on a business trip and it’s unbelievable how bowled over they are by the locality. We believe that local people can achieve their goals and ambitions while staying close to home and to date 12 of our staff have successfully completed apprenticeships.
Irish Pressings are on an exciting and innovative journey of growth, and have proven time and time again that despite being rural you can still conduct business in a clear and simple manner. Ben believes that the connectivity that they have on the business estate and the support from Údarás na Gaeltachta has been second to none and has been crucial to their growth, particularly in 2020. “Údarás recognises what a company like Irish Pressings can bring to the area. In 2020, it was calculated that Irish Pressings brought €25 million into the local economy and we hope to increase our staff to 120 over the next 3 years as well as establishing a second premises on the business estate in Gaoth Dobhair . We’ve been very lucky to be able to bring the company to where it is today, with a committed, talented and ambitious team based in the locality”.
The Atlantic Economic Corridor, the advocacy group for the Irish Atlantic Coast, has welcomed a video made by the one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, AbbVie – which recently completed the acquisition of Allergan, another West of Ireland giant. The video highlights the work and life opportunities offered by the West of Ireland.
The video is part of the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association’s ‘Innovate For Life’ campaign, a series of videos showing the many dimensions to pharma’s impact on Ireland. The latest video showcases the opportunities AbbVie provides in the North-West.
The Atlantic Economic Corridor (AEC) is driven by business representatives and communities and supported by national and local government and State agencies. The initiative seeks to consolidate and align the State capital investment programme with the potential investment of the private sector to strengthen the region’s economic contribution and make the Atlantic region a better place in which to live and work.
Allan Mulrooney, Head of Communications and Development for the Atlantic Economic Corridor, said the region was honoured that one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies would highlight the potential of the West.
“AbbVie is an investor and job creator in the West. It has been in Sligo for more than four decades, providing great jobs, supporting local causes and backing GAA clubs and teams. It is companies like AbbVie which are making the Atlantic corridor a hub for investment so that this part of the country can scale into the future.”
“AbbVie’s film is a stirring evocation of the region, presenting it as the great place to live and work that it is – the surf, the mountains and the calm of nature. The film features some great local voices, all of which attest to the region’s draw for top talent, an excellent quality of life and multinational investment. It should generate confidence in the West as a significant medicines innovator for decades to come,” Allan said.
The video, which is available to view online, shows the North-West at its best. Outside of the workplace, it shows surfing and hiking destinations are just minutes away, although many of AbbVie’s employees simply enjoy the allure of a more serene lifestyle and the beautiful views of the North-West.
The campaign, #InnovateForLife, opens a window on the world of medicines innovation right across the lifecycle – showing the process from discovery and development through to manufacturing and adoption by the health services. The campaign is organised into three pillars – Patients, Places and Pioneers – capturing the economic and societal impact of the biopharmaceutical industry on patients’ lives, on communities, and on science and medicines development.
West of Ireland native Bernard Mallee, Director of Communications and Advocacy at IPHA, said: “We are delighted to launch inspiring new content for ‘Innovate For Life’ – the campaign IPHA leads which draws together the many strands of our impact in patients’ lives, in communities across the country, and in science for the development of new treatments. During COVID-19, the role of our industry in the economy and in healthcare has been starkly revealed. Like other biopharmaceutical innovators, including Pfizer, Janssen, Takeda, Novartis and Astellas, AbbVie is part of ‘Innovate For Life’. We are proud of AbbVie’s contribution to the industry. It is making medicines for global supply, creating jobs in the region, improving patients’ health outcomes and helping to position Ireland for foreign direct investments. The new film helps to tell that important story for AbbVie as part of a wider industry narrative.”
Dr Jerry Bird, Head of the Science Faculty at IT Sligo, features in the video. He says he is proud that his former students are positively impacting the lives of patients in Ireland and around the world through the manufacture of innovative medicines with AbbVie – medicines of great value and significance to the medical industry, patients and their loved ones.
“It’s important that parents and families understand that when their sons and daughters come to us and train in pharmaceutical science and in medical biotechnology, what are they going to do? They are going on to work in an international company that is producing drugs that are changing the lives of people, changing the lives of people with extremely high-risk diseases, changing their outcomes and giving them new lives,” Dr Bird said.
Andrés Rodrigo, General Manager at AbbVie (Ireland), said: “AbbVie roots in Sligo stretch back more than four decades. Over time, our two separate sites there have scaled as the world of medicines innovation turned. With that came demand for more people with new skills. IT Sligo has been key in helping us to source that new talent. We are a partner for Sligo’s economy. More than that, we have become part of the community. Our people in Sligo are supporting the global supply of innovative medicines in immunology, haematology and for Parkinson’s disease, to mention just a few. We are proud of their contribution to the economy and to society. We wanted to tell that story as part of ‘Innovate For Life’.”
AbbVie employee Matt Kavanagh features in the video too. He left commuting hell behind to embrace a new pharmaceutical career in the West of Ireland. He’s still at the forefront of global medicines innovation, but community appreciation of his company’s work is at a whole new level in his adopted home.
He said: “My work-life balance is pretty good at the moment. The fact that I can go hiking, even after the day’s work, having no traffic and very little crowds means everything’s very accessible and doesn’t take a whole lot of planning to go surfing or hiking. I get to do all that, as well as being in the front-line of innovation.”
AbbVie’s video can be viewed here
All videos are available at Innovate For Life
The world of work has been changed in Sligo and across the west forever by Covid-19. A recent study by the Western Development Commission found that 94% of people are now in favour of working remotely on an on-going basis. However, the same study cited difficulties for some who would prefer to work from home part-time, from the office one or two days a month and the rest in a shared working environment or a hub. This is the emerging trend of a new hybrid model of work.
Looking globally, Facebook has said that 50% of its jobs will be remote within 10 years, Twitter is letting almost all its global workforce work from home forever, google staff can work remotely until July 2021, Microsoft, Slack, Airbnb and the list goes on. The question is, how can the West of Ireland respond?
Image: Portershed, Co. Galway
More than 16 months before Covid-19, The Western Development Commission had begun investigating the opportunities for remote working along the Atlantic Economic Corridor (Donegal to Kerry) and set out to map every hub already in operation or in planning. The assumption was that there would be around 30 hubs but in fact, the WDC research found there are over 100 already in operation. The Atlantic Economic Corridor Hubs Project was created to establish a community network between these hubs, identify their challenges, provide support, training, and drive footfall to the hubs in every rural town and village across the west.
“Successful, well-managed hubs can help start-ups grow, bring together talent and develop a professional community that helps foster business connections and investment opportunities. Supporting these hubs is an ideal tool for rural and regional development because it offers access to high-speed broadband, brings more people into town centres, reduces the need for long commutes and offers our workforce a better work/life balance” says Allan Mulrooney, WDC Head of Communications and AEC Project Development.
From digital nomads to entrepreneurs, the profile of a hub user is diverse and in the last few months has grown to be much wider. A new cohort of workers are choosing to live and work locally, some prompted by the WDC’s More To Life campaign, accessing these hubs and supporting the community and rural regeneration. The Atlantic Economic Corridor Hubs project is now ready to help support the hub community and build on the work of hub managers up and down the region by launching a new strategy, a suite of online ICT systems, including a state of the art booking system and a brand new marketing campaign to reach the diverse audience. The project is supported by an AEC officer in each county working for the local authority.
Image: Allan Mulrooney, Stephen Carolan, Pauline Leonard and Karen Sweeney – AEC Development Team
“We have all just been through the biggest work-life experiment in decades, rather than feeling hindered, our team are working hard to develop solutions for the west of Ireland and we believe the hub network will play a key part in that” explained AEC Hubs Programme Manager Stephen Carolan. “Over the past 16 months we have carried out research with the hubs to identify their needs and we are now ready to launch a number of new initiatives which will support growth in the hubs and have a knock-on effect across the region. Our recent Hub Outreach Scheme supported 65 hubs to reopen during Covid-19 by supplying funding for essential safety measures. Our new online platform and booking engine, which will launch in January will allow users to seamlessly book a hub across the region instantly and our new campaign will target those working from home, multinationals who have staff now working across the region, those looking to make a move west or even take a trip along the AEC for a working holiday.”
Allan Mulrooney concludes by saying; “In early January we will launch our AEC hubs Strategy which we believe offers an opportunity to revitalise the towns and villages of Ireland’s Atlantic coast. The offering will support a new era of remote and flexible work and help to sustain local communities which will be achieved through collaboration combined with leading technology and data”
Partners in the Interreg funded SAFER project, The WiSAR Lab, at the Letterkenny Institute of Technology, will showcase three pilot initiatives related to the marine economy at the 10th annual Business2Sea. The highly anticipated international event will take place virtually, from the 16th to the 20th of November 2020.
SAFER, or Smart Atlantic Seafood Clusters, is a transnational innovation project co-funded by the Interreg Atlantic Area Programme 2014-2020, which aims to improve the innovation performance of the seafood industry by increasing technology adoption and transnational cooperation.
As part of the Business2Sea programme, a SAFER workshop will take place on Wednesday 18th November at 10.30 GMT (11.30 CET). The workshop, Demonstration of Innovative Technologies to the Seafood Industry under the Atlantic Area Project SAFER, will showcase the pilots implemented during the SAFER project, including three pilots built and engineered by the team at the WiSAR Lab.
The primary aim of the distinguished Business2Sea event is to foster relations and collaboration between international stakeholders who are piloting initiatives in different areas related to the economy of the sea.
Business2Sea is co-organised by SAFER project partner Fórum Oceano, Associação da Economia do Mar, which is responsible for fostering the Portuguese Maritime Cluster, and Centro Tecnológico del Mar, Fundación CETMAR, based in Spain. The event will explore how international alliances and knowledge transfers have led to innovations in the marine and maritime economy.
SAFER project partner Dr Nick Timmons, of the WiSAR Lab, acknowledged that this year’s Business2Sea event is more important than ever in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. “The maritime industry is facing a time of unprecedented challenge, arising from the Covid-19 crisis and therefore there has never been a more important time for regions in Europe to pioneer and share ideas and learnings in maritime industry innovations. We are delighted to be taking part in the 10th annual Business2Sea event and looking forward to showcasing our pilots to an international audience.”
For more information or to register for Business2Sea visit www.wisar.ie/news/
With #BuyDonegalWeekend just two days away and over 160 businesses involved in the inaugural campaign, the organisers spoke to one of Donegal’s most iconic brands and businesses, Magee of Donegal. Stephen Harron, manager of the Donegal Town store first started work here 27 years ago, as a teenager. Here he tells us more about the Magee story, its evolution and the importance of their local Donegal market.
Magee was founded on tweed over 150 years ago when John Magee first established a small drapers shop in Donegal. This hardwearing, coarse fabric was handwoven across Donegal by part-time fishermen and farmers as the perfect fabric for dissipating the damp and cold weather, so often found in the North-West of Ireland. The Magee of Donegal shop still stands on the same site on the Diamond in Donegal since first opened by John Magee and weaving remains central to brand with the Mill located just across the river from the shop. Today the fourth and fifth-generation are still at the helm – Lynn, Charlotte, Paddy and Rosy.
When Stephen first started in Magee in the early 90s, they were very much known for ‘’our Tweed Suits and Jackets which were popular with tourists, especially American visitors. They will always be part of our heritage, however, the brand has diversified and we now have full lifestyle collections in both men’s and women’s which cater for both our local market and our international customers from all over the world.’’
Like most bricks and mortar stores and businesses in Donegal and across the country, this year has been a very challenging one, both in the retail and wholesale sectors of the Magee business. Building their online presence is something Magee have grown with their well established Magee1866.com digital platform, Stephen and his colleagues now have an even greater opportunity to focus on this business stream. “For us it’s vital that we can still trade through initiatives like click & collect and also offer a service to our customers should they want anything from the stores that is not on our online platform, to provide that extra element of customer service”.
Magee has also expanded beyond its core Donegal base and has two shops in Dublin, Magee of South Anne Street and Magee at Arnotts. In addition the Magee wholesale business caters for many independent retailers within Ireland, the UK and the rest of the world.
Not forgetting the importance of their domestic Donegal market, ‘’support from all of our local customers is so important to us. We very much look forward to getting our stores open again before Christmas and we hope that people will shop local and support all local businesses at this very unique time.’’ Also while this year has been challenging, it has also presented opportunities for Magee with staycationers frequenting their famed Donegal store during the summer months, many of whom had not been in Donegal ever before, or for quite some time.
Speaking about the #BuyDonegalWeekend initiative, Stephen said they were “delighted when we heard about the campaign from Donegal County Council. It’s really great to be involved in something like #BuyDonegalWeekend, which is not just about shopping local, but showcasing Donegal and our range of great businesses to a wider and global audience. We are planning a special offer for our Donegal customers over the weekend, so keep an eye on our Facebook page for the latest updates” #BuyDonegalWeekend takes place this weekend, Friday 6th until Sunday 8th of November. Find out how to get involved at www.buydonegal.com.
65 hubs across the Atlantic Economic Corridor have received funding to support their reopening in compliance with public health guidelines as the economy recovers from the impact of COVID-19. The investment has been made by the Department of Rural and Community Development as part of the Atlantic Economic Corridor Enterprise Hub Network project.
€300,000 has been allocated to 65 hubs including Enterprise, Research and Development, Coworking, Scaling and Community hubs across the Atlantic Economic Corridor stretching from Donegal to Kerry. Funding has been provided to help the hubs implement social distancing guidelines, purchase necessary safety equipment, online meeting equipment and support marketing of the hub network.
The Western Development Commission, alongside the AEC Officer in each county managed the delivery process on behalf of the Department.
Enterprise Hubs Programme Manager at The Western Development Commission, Stephen Carolan, said: “This support will assist the hubs across the region with their reopening plans during Covid-19. These hubs are a crucial asset for supporting those who want to continue to work remotely outside of their home setting. The hubs will play a critical role in rural and regional areas in the months and years ahead, allowing skilled workers to work close to where they live, driving sustainable economic activity and building communities.”
The Atlantic Economic Corridor Hub Network Project will soon launch an online booking system for all hubs in the region alongside a new marketing campaign to help drive awareness and increase use.
The AEC Enterprise Hubs Network is a three-year project to create an interconnected community network from over 100 hubs identified as either operating or in development, in the AEC region.
You can read more about the project here
List of Hubs that received funding
- Kilrush Digital Hub
- Kilkee Digital Hub
- Killaloe Digital Hub
- Feakle Hub
- Ennistymon Digital Hub
- Ennis Chamber Co-Work Hub
- Malbay Hub
- Castleisland Carnegie Library Hub
- Dingle Hub
- HQ Listowel
- HQ Tralee
- Kenmare Co-working Hub
- Killarney Technology Innovation Centre
- Office Light Caherciveen
- RDI Hub
- Sneem Digital Hub
- Tom Crean Business Centre
- The BASE Enterprise Centre
- CoLab, Letterkenny Institute of Technology
- CoWorkPlus Bundoran
- Craoibhín Community Enterprise Centre
- gteic@Cill Charthaigh
- MODAM, Arranmore Island
- Spraoi agus Sport / CoWorkPlus Inishowen
Galway City and County
- Galway Technology Centre
- GMIT Innovation Hub
- The Portershed
- SCCUL Enterprise Centre
- Westside Resource Centre
- Beechtree Enterprise Centre, Tuam
- Bia Innovator Campus
- Burren Enterprise Centre
- Kinvara, Clonberne Community Enterprise Centre
- Ballinasloe Enterprise Centre
- The Hub at Moyne Villa
- Ballinamore Area Community Enterprise Units
- Ballinamore Enterprise Centre
- Drumshanbo Enterprise Centre
- Drumshanbo Food Hub
- Mohill Enterprise Centre
- The Hive, Carrick on Shannon
- W8 Centre, Manorhamilton
- Broadford Enterprise Centre
- Bruree Foods Ltd
- Engine Hub
- Rathkeale Enterprise Centre
- Cairn Enterprise Hub Kiltimagh
- Gteic Belmullet
- Gteic Eachléim
- Innovation Hub GMIT
- Knockmore Centre
- Leeson Centre, Westport
- Castlerea Enterprise HUB
- St. Aidens, Ballyforan
- The Spool Factory
- The Building Block
- The Landing Space
- IT Innovation centre
- Ballintogher Family Enterprise Centre