AEC Hubs Project – Sligo Champion Article

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”

Donegal Technology Lab to Showcase Marine Economy Innovations at the International Business2Sea 2020

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/

Transact Campus Inc. creates 110 new roles in Limerick

Transact Campus Inc., the leading integrated payment and credential software solution company for campus environments, has today announced it will create 110 new jobs in Limerick City Centre. This next-generation digital campus project will serve as the company’s international headquarters with responsibility for shaping and developing the company’s portfolio of products and services.


This project is supported by the Irish Government through IDA Ireland.


“It is with great excitement and appreciation that Transact announces our establishment of a new Technology Innovation Centre in Limerick, Ireland, representing the final and critical component of our global vision and strategy. We are humbled to be so warmly welcomed into the Limerick community and we thank the IDA for their meaningful partnership — without them, none of this would be possible,” said David Marr, CEO of Transact Campus Inc. “As a company, Transact is relentless in its pursuit to empower our clients with innovative products, enabling them in making a meaningful difference in the lives of the students they serve. We will continue to accomplish this through the creation of highly skilled and collaborative teams that feel a strong sense of ownership and passion for what they create.”


Transact plans to invest in multiple core workstreams that will exploit de-coupled micro-service architectures, cloud-based data analytics, CQRS patterns, asynchronous event-based integration models, data streaming, data lakes, and AI-linked analysis.


Headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona USA, Transact serves more than 1,300 educational institutions representing in excess of 12 million students and facilitating more than $46 billion in annual education-related payments. Transact’s software services include tuition and fee bill presentment and payment, student payment plans, open- and closed-loop student credential-based point-of-sale transactions for both on and off-campus, as well as ensuring secure authorized access to campus facilities and events.


Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise Trade & Employment Leo Varadkar said: “This is really welcome news for the Mid West region where a strong financial services cluster has developed in recent years.  Today’s announcement is further evidence of Ireland’s ability to attract investments like this, thanks to the availability of a highly skilled and talented workforce.  This announcement by Transact will create 110 roles in Limerick. I wish them every success with their expansion plans.”


The open roles available with Transact are in the areas of Product Managers, Architects, Scrum Masters, UX Designers, Front End Developers, Back End Developers, iOS and Android Developers, DevOps Engineers, Software, Development Engineers in Test, and Data Scientists. To learn more about joining the Transact team, visit https://www.linkedin.com/company/transact-campus-inc/jobs/

Iconic Donegal Retailer Magee Still Tailor Made for Success

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 Receive Support To Reopen across the Atlantic Economic Corridor

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

Co. Clare

  • Kilrush Digital Hub
  • Kilkee Digital Hub
  • Killaloe Digital Hub
  • Feakle Hub
  • Ennistymon Digital Hub
  • Ennis Chamber Co-Work Hub
  • Malbay Hub

Co. Kerry

  • 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

Co. Donegal

  • 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
  • gteic@AnSpidéal
  • gteic@NaForbacha
  • Ballinasloe Enterprise Centre
  • The Hub at Moyne Villa

Co. Leitrim

  • Ballinamore Area Community Enterprise Units
  • Ballinamore Enterprise Centre
  • Drumshanbo Enterprise Centre
  • Drumshanbo Food Hub
  • ManorHUB
  • Mohill Enterprise Centre
  • The Hive, Carrick on Shannon
  • W8 Centre, Manorhamilton

Co. Limerick

  • Broadford Enterprise Centre
  • Bruree Foods Ltd
  • Engine Hub
  • Kantoher
  • Rathkeale Enterprise Centre

Co. Mayo

  • Cairn Enterprise Hub Kiltimagh
  • Gteic Belmullet
  • Gteic Eachléim
  • Innovation Hub GMIT
  • Knockmore Centre
  • Leeson Centre, Westport

Co. Roscommon

  • Castlerea Enterprise HUB
  • St. Aidens, Ballyforan
  • The Spool Factory

Co. Sligo

  • The Building Block
  • The Landing Space
  • IT Innovation centre
  • Ballintogher Family Enterprise Centre

Bath Fitter to create 42 jobs in Limerick

Bath Fitter, North America’s leading bathroom refurbishment experts, is delighted to announce the establishment of its European Business Development Centre in East Link Business Park, Limerick. This facility is Bath Fitter’s first to be located outside of North America. This announcement is supported by the Irish Government through IDA Ireland.

The company has already started hiring and will be looking to fill additional positions over the coming months, in areas such as installation, sales and marketing, as the centre focuses on winning and serving new clients in Europe. For more information, contact: careers-ireland@bathfitter.com and visit: Bathfitter.com/career-home.

Glenn Cotton, President and CEO of Bath Fitter said “Picking the right location as a base of operations is essential to the success of our expansion into Europe, the UK and beyond. Limerick felt like the right fit for so many reasons, from the talented local workforce to the well-developed international communication links that support this growing city. There’s a good reason that nine of the top 10 US tech companies have operations in Ireland.”

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar said: “The decision by Bath Fitter Inc to choose Limerick for its first facility outside of North America, resulting in the creation of 42 new jobs, is a testament to the skills, talent and people of the Midwest. Through the July Stimulus and the work of IDA Ireland, we will continue to secure investment for every part of Ireland. I wish Bath Fitter all the best establishing here.”

Since Bath Fitter’s European sales office was opened in Limerick earlier this summer, the team has hit the ground running.

Michael Prendergast, Vice President of European Sales said: “Our first installer was hired almost immediately, followed soon after by the first commercial order. It’s been a great start and a real team effort. We’re excited to bring Bath Fitter’s innovative and cost-effective renovation solutions to Europe. The ability to transform a bathroom in a single day gives Bath Fitter advantages over existing technologies and provides our clients with a professional and hassle-free renovation option with many years of service.”

 

South Africa’s leading animation studio Triggerfish chooses Galway as home of its first international expansion

Triggerfish, the animation studio behind Netflix’s first original animated TV series from Africa, has announced it is to establish its first international studio in Galway. The project, supported by the Irish Government through IDA Ireland, is expected to create 60 new jobs over the next three years. Triggerfish animated the Oscar-nominated Roald Dahl adaptation Revolting Rhymes as well as much-loved Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler adaptations such as the 2020 International Emmy-winning Zog, the 2020 British Animation Awards winner The Snail and the Whale, the BAFTA-nominated and Annecy-winning Stick Man, and the Rose d’Or-winning The Highway Rat, all produced by Magic Light Pictures.

Founded in 1996, Triggerfish was instrumental in the birth of the South African animation industry, co-founding the country’s official animation association as well as an ongoing monthly screening and networking event.The studio’s first two features, Adventures in Zambezia and Khumba, are among the five highest-grossing South African feature films of all time, with nine million cinema tickets sold globally. This saw Triggerfish named overall Business of the Year in South Africa’s Western Cape province in 2015 – a first for an animation company.
“To keep up with demand, we started outsourcing work to Irish animators in 2019 and were quickly won over by both the quality of the work and the dedication to the craft,” says Triggerfish CEO Stuart Forrest. “In many ways, the Irish creatives seem very similar to what we always look for in South Africa: a passion for animation, a love of story and the deeply felt ambition to create award-winning and entertaining work.”

Triggerfish is currently producing Netflix’s first original African animated TV series, Mama K’s Team 4, set in a futuristic version of Lusaka, Zambia, where four scrappy teen girls join a retired secret agent on a quest to save the world – on a budget.
Triggerfish is also in production on their third feature film, Seal Team, an action-comedy about a brave, reckless seal who forms a rag-tag team to save his home from Great White Sharks.
In addition Triggerfish services AAA-rated and mobile games for the likes of Electronic Arts, Unity and Disney Interactive and is in development on a broad slate of original film and television projects for most of the world’s biggest studios.

“We need more capacity to keep up with our ambitions and Galway ticked all the boxes for our European base,” says studio producer Andy Wonnacott, who will head up the Galway branch, to the delight of his Irish wife. “It has a similar time zone to South Africa; is very well connected, with both flights and broadband connectivity; has a thriving creative community; offers loads of really fantastic business support. For us personally, Ireland is our second home, so it will be good to be back with family and friends.”
More recently, Triggerfish has been helping to kickstart the broader African animation industry through initiatives like the pan-African Triggerfish Story Lab, supported by The Walt Disney Company; the all-women Triggerfish Writers Lab with Netflix; the free Triggerfish Academy digital learning platform, supported by Goethe-Institut, the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development and The Walt Disney Company; and regular bursaries to study animation.
“We’re big fans of the likes of Cartoon Saloon and Giant, so are looking forward to helping grow Ireland as an animation hub producing some of the world’s best work,” added Stuart Forrest. “To begin with, we’ll be continuing our work on various high-end game projects, and expect this to scale quickly in line with Triggerfish’s track record in Africa.”
Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys TD said, “I am delighted to see that Triggerfish have chosen to establish their first international studio in Ireland. Galway will be a natural fit for this creative company. They will join a burgeoning list of award-winning indigenous and foreign animation studios already based here, and will be a great addition to this thriving sector.”

IDA Ireland CEO Martin Shanahan said, “This is a great investment for Ireland and Galway is a great choice of location, given the availability of highly skilled creative talent there. The 60 new roles being created is a welcome boost to the economy of Galway and the West region. It is a huge vote of confidence in Ireland and demonstrates our continued strong value proposition and our agile and adaptable business environment at a time of unprecedented global flux due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I wish Triggerfish every success with its operations here.”
Animators keen on joining this new team for a promising adventure on a wonderful slate of new projects can apply via the Careers tab at http://www.triggerfish.com

A New University for the South-West Region

Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) and Institute of Technology Tralee (ITT) is set to become a Technological University. Munster Technological University (MTU) will be officially established in January 2021 and will be Ireland’s newest Technological University.

The project leader of the MTU and lecturer at CIT, Hugh McGlynn, said the only technological university outside Dublin is “great news for the south-west region” and will give the country the “regional development” it needs. He said that the move will enhance the reputation of students, improve conditions, secure better funding streams, and better campus development.

Prof McGlynn said that post-Covid-19, MTU will be a “driver for regional development, growth, and opportunities” for the 15,300 students enrolled in CIT and IT Tralee.

President of CIT, Barry O’Connor, said the designation of CIT and IT Tralee together as the MTU is a “vote of confidence”. Students will have access to a broader range of educational opportunities with over 140 courses and programmes on offer across six campuses in Kerry and Cork.

CIT’s Bishopstown campus, Cork School of Music, Crawford College of Art and Design, the National Maritime College of Ireland in Ringaskiddy, and IT Tralee’s north and south campuses all come under the umbrella of MTU.

Prof McGlynn added: “Technological universities operate from apprentices to PhDs and everything in between so there’s an array of opportunities for people looking to reskill.”

 

Six tech companies hiring across the Atlantic Economic Corridor right now.

If you’re in the market for a new job or simply interested in exploring your options along the Atlantic Economic Corridor,  check out this list of companies hiring.

 

Overstock, Co.Sligo 

Career progression’ is important to David Kenny, Overstock’s Director of Software Development and Site lead Ireland. For him, that’s what a technologist gets when he or she joins Overstock a technology company brimming with opportunity. “We want to attract people who are looking for high-quality work and a high-quality lifestyle” says David. If you can match that with a workplace that offers solid career progression which increasingly matters to people, we think that’s a pretty unique selling point for us here in Sligo.” Just some of the roles currently on offfer at Overstcok are. 

 

Cora Systems, Co.Leitrim

Are you an ambitious, experienced, Business Analyst? Are you looking for great career progression opportunities in a fast-growing and customer-focused tech company? As a Senior Business Analyst at Cora Systems (“Cora”) you will be a core member of teams delivering complex, multidisciplinary projects on behalf of our global clients. You will be able to learn and grow in a highly team based environment. The role is customer facing and requires excellent commercial awareness and communication skills. Learn more about the role below.

 

SL Controls, Co.Limerick 

SL Controls, which integrates and validates software for manufacturing and well on its way to being a force in the move to Industry 4.0, employs around 90 people and revenues are surging north of €7m as the company plots its strategy for the next three years. SL now have offices in Sligo, Galway, Limerick and Maynooth and have a number of open roles including.

 

Genesys, Co.Galway 

“Galway is not just the city of culture, a major tourist hub and a university town of 24,000 students. It also has a thriving tech scene where talented and ambitious developers, UX designers, data scientists and product managers can build world-class careers.”Senior vice-president of R&D at Genesys, Joe Smyth. Geneys have a number of open roles at the minute incuding:

 

Regeneron, Co.Limerick 

Regeneron’s products are designed to help people with eye diseases, allergic and inflammatory diseases, cancer and rare diseases, among others. It is also currently testing one of its existing medicines and developing new antibodies in an effort to combat Covid-19. Take a look at some of the open roles below.

 

MathWorks, Co.Galway 

MathWorks, a mathematical and computing software developer, has its Irish base in Galway, located in the heart of the city. A number of positions are currently open at MathWorks, including

 

AEC Event; A Practical Guide To Reopen Your Hub

On the 30th June 2020 our AEC team alongside the AEC officer network held an online event focused on supporting hubs and co-working spaces to re-open along the Atlantic Economic Corridor. Over 90 participants joined the call from Kerry to Donegal and heard from our AEC team and a number of guest speaker including  Liam Cronin, CEO of RDI Hub, Niamh Costello, Manager at Galway Technology centre and others.

Our team gave an update on our AEC Hubs Strategy, our planned booking system and our recent work on the classification of the hubs. Last week our team alongside DRCD, announced an investment of 300,000 for enterprise hubs along the Atlantic Economic Corridor to help them implement measures to reopen in compliance with public health guidelines as the economy recovers from the impact of COVID-19. You can read more on that announcment HERE. Today’s event give hub owners and managers a more in depth look at the application form and how to apply for this funding.

If you missed out on the event or wish to know more, you can watch it back in full below. Any hub owner or manager looking to apply for the support should contact their AEC county officer. A full list is available HERE.