Govt backs Trinity’s €1bn ‘Innovation District’ for Dublin

The Irish Government has given the go-ahead to grant €150m towards a new €1.1bn Innovation District plan spearheaded by Trinity College that will transform the docklands area of south Dublin.

Today (3 January) the cabinet accepted the recommendations of a report by the Grand Canal Innovation District advisory group.

The Grand Canal Innovation District (GDID), with a new Trinity campus at its centre and modelled on similar districts such as Harvard Square in Boston or Station F in Paris, will act as a connector for Irish and multinational companies, academic researchers from both Irish and international universities, venture capitalists and start-ups as well as members of the local community.

“We have seen from other cities around the globe that innovation districts help to raise the amount of research undertaken in a country and that research universities are the key determining factor in ensuring that research and innovation is nurtured and fostered”

The district will be developed over a 10-year time span, however early activation will commence on the site in 2020.

This will include the opening of an innovation hub that will provide space for early stage start-ups, research active corporates, a dedicated programme of activities for people who live in the local community and a meeting space to activate the innovation community in Dublin.

The report calls for support for the GCID project through both policy measures and financial support. The total cost of the development will be over €1bn over the course of 10 years, with plans for the majority of the investment to be borne by developers, Trinity and philanthropic and corporate grants and donations.

The report recommends that the Government invest €150m in the district over the next decade.

The future of investment and innovation  in Dublin

“Ireland’s ability to continue to attract investment and grow its own successful global businesses is intrinsically linked to the amount of research and innovation originating from within the country,” said Trinity College Dublin Provost Dr Patrick Prendergast.

“We have seen from other cities around the globe that innovation districts help to raise the amount of research undertaken in a country and that research universities are the key determining factor in ensuring that research and innovation is nurtured and fostered.

Trinity’s new campus will be dedicated to ensuring the success of the district. It will be a focal point for the new innovation district, creating a space where other universities, start-ups, funders and established businesses can come together to drive innovation.”

“Government endorsement of the GCID vision is welcomed. State support, through continued policy development, political goodwill and financial investment is invaluable. For international investors, it is a prerequisite that the importance of a project of this nature is demonstrated through government commitments of this nature. This firm statement of support will unlock other opportunities and will ensure that the GCID will be well funded and that it will attract the right kind of partners, business and researchers to the project in the years ahead. This is truly a great day for innovation in Ireland.”

According to Dr Diarmuid O’Brien, chief innovation and enterprise officer at Trinity College, establishing an ambitious innovation district in Ireland will help position Ireland for future investment in an unsettled post-Brexit environment. It will also help support Ireland’s indigenous start-ups, drive inward research and industry funding and will help to ensure that Ireland stays ahead of technological advances from AI to robotics.

He said that tapping into the expertise of established multinationals, the district with Trinity at its centre will act as the connector, bringing industry, funders, researchers and community together – strengthening the quality of life in the local community while also driving economic growth and job creation.

“The Grand Canal Innovation District will connect the significant assets we already have – globally leading businesses, world class research in our universities and a thriving start-up ecosystem, and will change Ireland’s story just as Station F has transformed the international view of Paris as a location for start-ups or the Crick Institute has established London as the global leader in Life Sciences.

“With all stakeholders coming together to make a shared vision a reality we can truly deliver change for Ireland – something that will have a positive impact on the local community, Dublin city and the country as a whole for generations to come.

“The development of a range of educational, cultural and social programmes will ensure the innovation district evolves in a way that is respectful of and meets the educational, employment and space needs of the local community and will improve the quality of life and the breadth of opportunity for all who live within it. We look forward to building out an early activation programme over the months ahead, which will start the process of bringing all stakeholders together, and are excited to see the outputs that come from those connections,” O’Brien said.

Written by John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 3 January, 2020