Dingle Creativity and Innovation Hub opened in April 2017 with the aim of supporting well-paid jobs year-round on the Dingle peninsula.
For Deirdre De Bhailís, who grew up on the peninsula and is now the hub’s manager, achieving this goal has always been about much more than simply providing desk space.
The electronic engineer is the driving force behind a three-pronged approach to stimulating the economy locally.
“Back when we started, we knew that our work wouldn’t be as simple or straightforward as simply offering desks and office space to people,” De Bhailís said.
“Instead, we set about creating the antecedents for new employment under three strategic pillars: sustainability; digital transformation and the creative industries.”
“We have since fostered living networks, generated projects and obtained funding under all of these pillars. This is resulting in an actively engaged community that is working together to build a sustainable future for all.”
This engagement remains true to the hub’s roots as a community enterprise initiative supported by Enterprise Ireland, Eir, Údarás na Gaeltachta, Kerry County Council, Dingle Business Chamber and Net Feasa, a local tech company.
At the same time, Dingle Hub is breaking new ground with a pioneering approach to sustainability that is attracting funding and attention from overseas.
The hub recently secured €220,000 under Horizon 2020, the EU funding programme for research and innovation, to trial carbon-reducing pilot sensor technology with farmers on the Dingle Peninsula.
It will collaborate with Net Feasa, Teagasc and the Irish Farmers Association on the three-year project.
Just this month, Corca Dhuibhne 2030 – the sustainability strategy the hub has put together in collaboration with MaREI, NEWKD and ESB Networks – was selected as a case study by the UN’s Regional Information Centre for Western Europe.
This is all welcome news for De Bhailís as the on-site work of the hub powers down for the duration of the latest lockdown.
“There are 24 spaces available to support new business formation, including co-working spaces, dedicated offices and hot desks,” she said.
“Usually, we have 36 people using the hub regularly and many more availing of seasonal hot-desking. As well as Net Feasa, local companies using the facility include DC Six Technologies and Skyscraper.ie.
“We’re closed to all except essential workers right now but, aside from the lockdowns, the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of remote working here on the peninsula and demand for our facilities is coming from people who have moved home permanently.”
In response, Dingle Hub is working closely with Údarás na Gaeltachta on another important community enterprise project: the proposed €415,000 redevelopment of the former Dingle Hospital and Workhouse as an innovation hub, tourist experience and creative learning space.