It is hoped that a state-of-the-art innovation centre which is set to be built in Letterkenny will help transform Donegal's entrepreneurial capacity and lead to the creation of more jobs.
The Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council Cllr. Rena Donaghey has welcomed today’s announcement by Minister Heather Humphries of funding of €3.7m for the development of a new innovation centre in Letterkenny under the Border Enterprise Development Fund administered by Enterprise Ireland.
This new centre will see the development of a purpose built, high tech workspace facility in Letterkenny which will include a bespoke pre-accelerator programme for early idea entrepreneurs along with a programme of wrap-around supports for businesses.
This project will help transform Donegal’s entrepreneurial and innovation capacity leading to the creation of more jobs and new start-up’s while supporting established businesses to enhance and develop their innovative capabilities.
“I am delighted with today’s announcement that will see a substantial investment in this state-of-the-art facility for Donegal. This dedicated space will provide an innovative ecosystem and business centre where both new and existing businesses will have the opportunity to operate their day to day business activities, to collaborate and share ideas and to explore and develop the potential of new ideas into viable and scalable propositions, contributing to greater resilience in the enterprise base and economic growth in the county.
"This is a hugely challenging time for businesses throughout Donegal with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the uncertainty of Brexit and it is paramount that we support businesses and early entrepreneurs in developing their capacity to innovate, to be agile and to pivot their products, services and operations to respond positively to emerging market challenges including Brexit, Covid-19 as well as transitioning to a low carbon society.”
In addition to the €3.7m for the Alpha Innovation Centre, Letterkenny based Ernact secured €350k for the development of a new service that will enable innovation hubs to effectively manage the delivery of customised technology transfer solutions to their client SMEs from universities, institutes of technology and private sector companies.
Cllr Donaghey who is also a member of the board of Ernact said: “This project will be hugely beneficial in supporting small businesses in maximizing the potential of disruptive technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), 3D Printing, Robotics, Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning and Big Data. It will provide a much-needed service to businesses across Donegal in helping them realise their growth potential”.
The Alpha Innovation Centre project is being led by Donegal County Council’s Economic Development Division and will be delivered in collaboration with the key economic development agencies including Enterprise Ireland, IDA and Donegal LEO along with Letterkenny Institute of Technology, Donegal ETB, Donegal Digital and ERNACT.
The Chief Executive of Donegal County Council, Seamus Neely said:"This project is an important step forward in facilitating greater economic development in Donegal. Building a strong, competitive and innovative economy is a key priority for the Council and we are committed to continuing to work collaboratively with key stakeholders at local, regional and national level to enable Donegal and the northwest region to achieve its growth ambitions and to support businesses to flourish and thrive.”
Garry Martin Director of Economic Development with the Council sees this initiative as a key strategic intervention that will animate and activate economic activity in Donegal.
“We worked closely with a range of businesses in Donegal in developing this proposal from large multi-national companies to small high potential start-ups. Increasing innovation capability and resilience resonated very strongly with these businesses with a number expressing a strong interest in collaborating in the delivery of the programme.
"This centre will provide greater opportunities for start-ups and indigenous businesses to build stronger linkages with various successful FDI companies in Donegal providing a platform for innovation and helping to create spin-out intrapreneurship opportunities."
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