Honorary Patron to Digital Dún Laoghaire Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D. with Digital Dún Laoghaire project director Eoin Costello.
Since Digital Dún Laoghaire’s inception in March 2016 our movement has run dozens of free business events with a total attendance to date of approximately 1,100 business people. Our work is made possible by the membership fees of the Bank of Ireland contribution of coworking space to DigitalHQ clg
Dun Laoghaire Town is at a key turning point in its development. With the competition from shopping on the web and an integrated Dundrum and a revitalised Blackrock retail offering, large retail planning permission granted for Stillorgan & Carrickmines and a major town centre planned for Cherrywood, it has never been more important that Dun Laoghaire Town build on its strengths to differentiate itself and grow visitor numbers to the businesses in the town.
It is more important than ever that the business community of Dún Laoghaire is supported in maximising the potential of our town in every sense. The goal of Digital Dun Laoghaire is to support this through helping businesses in our town transition to the digital economy, help attract and grow new businesses here and project Dun Laoghaire Town through digital channels as a great place to shop, work and spend time.
In order to achieve our goals we run the following monthly events and seminars:
Each month we bring together the community of digital/tech entrepreneurs and traditional business owners through our morning Meetups. At this Meetup we discuss varies topics in an informal 'fireside chat' format with guest speakers followed by Q&A from attendees. These meetups take place in the Bank of Ireland, Dun Laoghaire from 7.30am – 8.45am.
Our Lunchtime Briefings
Our Lunchtime briefings take place monthly in the Community Space in PierConnect over the Bank of Ireland on George’s Street Upper. The goal of the briefings is to provide practical advise from expert speakers for businesses that can be easily implemented and should increase revenue or reduce costs for small businesses.
Digital Dún Laoghaire - History to date
March 2016 - First steering group meeting was March 2016 in the BID’s office when it was initially proposed to be Startup Dun Laoghaire.
May 2016 - Eoin Costello officially engaged as the BID’s Digital Connector to lead the Digital Dún Laoghaire initiative.
September 2016 - Minister Mitchell O’Connor becomes Patron and officially launches Digital Dún Laoghaire with Bank of Ireland’s Colin Kingston.
March 2017 - Infographic launched capturing the outputs of the first 12 months of the Digital Dún Laoghaire initiative.
May 2017 - Launch of the BID’s strategic plan for the Digital Transformation of Dún Laoghaire Town.
June 2017 - PierConnect officially opened.
September 2017 - “Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council will identify and promote Dun Laoghaire Town as a new Digital, Creative and Technology hub for the region in partnership with Digital Dun Laoghaire, Dun Laoghaire BID and IADT” - Dublin Regional Enterprise Strategy 2017 - 2019
October 2017 - Digital Dún Laoghaire made PierConnect (Bank of Ireland, Dun Laoghaire) its home for activities.
March 2019 - The Dun Laoghaire Town BID's 5 year term ended on 31st March 2019 and the Board decided not to seek an additional term. A number of the Board members set up the not-for-profit entity DigitalHQ clg to continue key elements of the digital agenda of the BID including Digital Dún Laoghaire.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR OF THE IRISH TIMES
In response to an article in the Irish Times ( Dún Laoghaire's continuing failure to reinvent itself ) we felt motivated to write the following letter which, as yet, the Irish Times has not published.
With reference to Jennifer O'Connell's extensive article 'Dún Laoghaire, Can They Fix It' in the Weekend Review (31st August 2019), while it is agreed that our town shares many of the challenges towns across Ireland face, it is also important to acknowledge the initiatives that are emerging on the ground in Dún Laoghaire to counteract these challenges.
In May 2017 a pilot digital incubation space opened above Bank of Ireland, Dun Laoghaire in partnership with the Dun Laoghaire Business Improvement District. Since opening this centre has delivered the Digital Dun Laoghaire programme which has run over 25 events and workshops with a total attendance to date of approximately 1,100 business people. DigitalHQ clg took on this initiative earlier this year and is building an exciting new concept of digital learning centres funded through a 'coworking for community gain' model, whereby donations of unused space in town centres provide the incubation membership fees used to deliver events, training and digital services to traditional local small businesses.
At the other end of the town Glasshouses, now with two locations in Dun Laoghaire, has developed an expertise in taking former, vacant retail premises and converting them into high quality professional coworking spaces thereby bringing increased footfall and sales to local traders. Both locations are at full occupancy.
In our town it is the nature of the offering that is the challenge, so it (like many others) needs to evolve to address 21st century needs and opportunities. Saturday's article identified a long list of expensive capital intensive projects which have been proposed for the town and harbour. We argue that rather than wait for what a top-down, capital intensive approach to town planning might do for Dun Laoghaire, we believe that coworking can in years to come become one of the major uses of suitably sized unoccupied retail space. This will support remote working thereby cutting down on commuting and increasing the footfall of workers with disposable income for the remaining local businesses.
In these matters perception can become reality. The pervasive narrative that many Irish towns are in terminal decline needs to be challenged. The article noted what chance do towns that don't have the advantages of Dun Laoghaire have if the decline on the main street here can't be reversed. We believe that if towns have good road connectivity, public transport and unoccupied buildings that could lend themselves to coworking, then they have the basic ingredients to revitalise their main street offering through facilitating a new entrant to the high street mix, that of town centre work spaces. As noted by the new 'Grow Remote' organisation, motivated communities across Ireland are responding to the challenges and opportunities presented by the digital revolution through facilitating remote working. This is not just a matter for the state or local government to address, motivated corporate citizens that own under-utilised properties in Ireland's towns, with an interest in the future of their locality, can support this new movement and take ownership of the regeneration of their town at the grassroots level.
What DigitalHQ clg is doing in Dún Laoghaire town is not the total solution but we believe our approach can play a role in helping catalyse and sustain our small business community and the town they support.
Eoin Costello, Project Director, DigitalHQ clg
Chad Gilmer, CEO, Glasshouses