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Published in Commercial Property on 04/01/2020

Plans Approved for Grand Canal Innovation District

CNI Editor reports

The Government has approved a decision to develop the Grand Canal Innovation District – a national initiative, spearheaded by Trinity College Dublin in collaboration with other universities.

The €1 billion plan will be a hub for innovation, world class university research facilities and a start up ecosystem, with a university campus acting as a connector.

The university owns a site adjacent to Grand Canal Quay, and it plans to build a campus close to tech firms such as Google, LinkedIn, and Facebook which are already located there.

The project was first launched by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in July, 2018.

Dr Diarmuid O’Brien, Trinity’s Chief Innovation and Enterprise Officer, said, “The government has commissioned a group called Grand Canal District Advisory Group, and that group has recommended that their government commits €150 million towards the development of this campus.”

“We will be working now very closely with the government over the next couple of months, to identify where that funding will come from and how that will enable the plans,” he said.

Similar hubs have worked in other cities such as Paris and London.

“There is about 80 other different innovative districts growing up around the world at the moment,” he said.

In a statement, the Government said any decision regarding Exchequer funding for the project will be taken in compliance with the Public Spending Code.

The Provost of Trinity, Patrick Prendergast, said state funding will be crucial to unlocking support from the private sector.

Business group, Ibec has also welcomed the approval of the plan. “The economic and population growth currently underway on the island of Ireland makes planning for the future now even more important. The scale of our growth is an enabling factor that will allow the island to compete for international business at a new level,” said Danny McCoy, Ibec CEO.

“The economies that invest properly in their future will drive economic prosperity and job creation. Our ability, as a small open economy, to continue to attract investment and grow its own successful global businesses is more than ever linked to the amount of research that originates here.

Dublin Chamber said the creation of the proposed new Grand Canal Innovation District would be a real statement of intent regarding Ireland’s desire to be a world leader in R&D and entrepreneurship.

The St Andrews Resource Centre says that the project has major implications for the area, which it says has already undergone dramatic changes over recent years.

The centre says international experience shows that innovation districts based on research campuses and high tech investors can crowd out, or drive out, local communities, especially traditional inner city communities. For that reason, the centre says it was welcome that the Government set the needs of the local community as part of the priority objectives of the advisory group, and that this is reflected in the report published today.

The centre says education, employment and above all social and affordable housing are crucial if the traditional community is not only to benefit from the planned Innovation District, but even to survive.