In the heart of Dublin’s historic Liberties area, you’ll find a unique place called The Digital Hub. This cluster of nine different buildings is filled with some of the city’s most innovative tech and digital media companies. But this isn’t your typical business campus. Here, they open their doors to the local community offering courses in STEM, music technology, digital skills and much more. They’ve also got an impressive list of alumni and have some ambitious plans for growth. We caught up with their Marketing and Communications Manager, Melissa Meehan, to find out more.
The hub is situated across the road from St. James’s Gate, the famed home of the Guinness Brewery. Melissa explains: “It’s a really old historic part of Dublin, but one that’s been earmarked as socially disadvantaged. Our role here is to create this campus that is a hub for tech, internet and digital media companies but also to bring the community along with us so that we’re not gated and shut out from our immediate neighbours.”
Established in 2003 by the Irish government, The Digital Hub has racked up some seriously impressive alumni over the last 15 years. “Amazon had an office here in the early days. We were their first location in Ireland and then, well, they kind of outgrew us,” Melissa laughs. “Same with Etsy, the website for creative, handcrafted and vintage goods. We were their first Irish office, and they stayed here just under two years and they loved it. They loved the vibe of the area and the real community feel but they grew phenomenally, and we just didn’t have a big enough office space to accommodate them.” More recently The Digital Hub provided a ‘soft landing spot’ for Slack and Stripe, who set up their initial Dublin operations at the campus before moving on to larger offices elsewhere in the city.
An International Vibe
Today, the impressive network of buildings caters for small to medium sized companies at various stages of growth, Melissa notes: “Our space is so flexible. You can literally move walls in the Digital Depot building!” There are currently about 80 companies located in The Digital Hub spanning all sorts of industries. Like Irish company Sonru who is revolutionising recruiting with automated video interviewing, and Bizimply who has created a scheduling and attendance tool for restaurant and bar owners. With a roughly 50/40 mix of Irish and International companies, the space has a real international feel. “Many European countries are represented here. And we have representatives from America, UAE, India and Australia too,” she explains.
Although the buildings on the campus are separate, The Digital Hub provides lots of opportunities for networking. “We have Friday morning meet-ups with teas, coffees and pastries,” Melissa says. “We brought a new element into it recently, which is a 5-minute soapbox where you can ask for help with a problem, talk about your company or any problems with a particular project.”
If you’re not a morning person, there’s also beer and pizza evenings once a month as well as a jam-packed schedule of seminars on a wide range of topics. “We had one on IP recently and one on key digital trends for 2018 and last week we held a seminar for International Women’s Day,” she says.
Along with the regular company events and seminars, they also host some excellent community initiatives: “We don’t want The Digital Hub to be an enterprise park where people come in 9-5 and leave,” Melissa notes. “We work closely with the community and we do that through community learning initiatives like our ‘Future Creators Cadets’ programme where local kids come in once or twice a week for classes focused on STEM and STEAM.” But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, there’s also the ‘D8 Surfers Club’ for older people to help them get to grips with technology and a partnership with the BIMM Institute Dublin, a local music college, to teach children a musical instrument and develop skills around recording and sound design, all taught though The Liber8 Music Project.
The future is bright for The Digital Hub with a pipeline of companies interested in setting up in the space. Melissa explains: “We’re confident if we had more office space we could fill it. We also have a number of buildings that are derelict and ultimately, our plan is to refurbish those buildings and grow.”