Category: Archive

Ireland poised for digital-media growth

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN — A multi-million-pound digital media village is being created in one of the oldest areas of Dublin, and so-called web works for new companies and research are being established in regional centers like Waterford, Cork, Limerick, Galway, Sligo and Letterkenny.

The development in the Liberties/Coombe area — known as the Dublin Hub — and the spread of the industry throughout the country is being strongly promoted by Enterprise Ireland, which assists developing Irish industry.

Dan Flinter, chief executive of the agency, said business start-ups in the new technology are running at twice the rate it had expected.

The agency has identified a huge demand for digital-media content as a growth area for Ireland.

"There are very few locations in the world which have become so dominant that Ireland can’t take a position on this particular market place," Flinter said.

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"We felt there was a unique opportunity in Dublin first of all to create an industry around digital media which would create the next phase or wave of Irish technology companies."

Trinity, UCD and the Dublin Institute of Technology are closely involved in the regeneration plans for the Liberties/Coombe area. The former Guinness Hops Store building is already the new home of Media Lab Europe, the Dublin-based independent arm of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s famous Media Lab.

MLE, a £150 million collaboration between the U.S. institute and the government, started in September and will grow to a faculty of 55, drawn from Europe and Massachusetts, and host 200 students.

Flinter said the aim of the plan is to create an environment where young, vibrant, "almost funky" businesses can be developed.

The digital-media industry demands third-level educational infrastructure and keenly priced, top-quality telecommunications, he told RTE in an end-of-year review.

So far, up to 90 percent of new technology start-ups were centered in a small area within Dublin, but Enterprise aims to spread the new business start-ups in digital media into regional centers through the so-called web-works.

Enterprise Ireland has netted substantial rewards as a result of its aid to new technology start-ups, part of which has included taking a shareholding.

Last year, it realized investments in a number of companies, selling shares worth about £80 million. It still owns shares worth well in excess of £100 million.

The growth in exports for indigenous companies was about 7 percent for the year with strong sales by high-tech companies in the U.S., where three "incubator units," in California, Boston and New York, have been established to help companies set up those places.

The incubator concept is now going to replicated in Europe and Flinter said the response has been far "beyond their expectations." The agency aims to substantially increase trade to the euro-zone countries.

The number of jobs created by Enterprise assisted companies last year was the best for a decade.

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