The Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, TD, today (Thursday 9 August) turned the first sod on the site of the new extension to GMIT’s Innovation Hub (iHub) at the GMIT Galway campus.
This extension will double the size of the Innovation Hub to about 2,400 m2, providing space for an additional three dedicated MedTech R&D units; 17 incubation units for start-ups in the Software, Digital Tech, Connected Health sectors; a Co-Working space; an Events Space; Social Hubs; and, breakout meeting and networking areas. The extension will also provide a dedicated Entrepreneurship Hub where GMIT researchers, staff, students and Industry can work collaboratively on the creation and development of innovative ideas in support of an Open Innovation Strategy.
Speaking at the event, Minister Humphreys said: “I warmly welcome the new iHub extension. Now more than ever, companies need to innovate to meet the changing needs of markets, and these additional facilities will provide even greater opportunities for local entrepreneurs and researchers in this regard. This extended iHub will also impact positively on the local economy in Galway – the evidence tells us that new companies that start out in an incubator are more inclined to remain in that region.”
The event was attended by the Mayor of Galway City, Cllr Níall Mc Nelis, local public representatives, Enterprise Ireland representatives, GMIT management and iHub client companies. Dr Michael Hannon, Deputy President of GMIT, says: “GMIT welcomes the support from Enterprise Ireland for this necessary extension to cater for the increased demand we are experiencing to support new start-ups. This new facility will allow greater interaction between cutting edge research and entrepreneurship at undergraduate level. Importantly, the increased space that will allow double the number of enterprises to be supported, makes the iHub centre self-sustaining. This is a welcome development for the Institute as it demonstrates a good use of tax-payers’ money and allows greater engagement between academia and the business community.”
“Gearóid Mooney, Research & Innovation, Enterprise Ireland, says: “Enterprise Ireland is committed to helping Irish entrepreneurs and companies through the start-up phase of their journey and are delighted to be able to support the expansion of this iHub with additional units and a new dedicated Entrepreneurship hub. This expansion will enable GMIT iHub to build on the successful start-up and enterprise eco-system already in place and hopefully double its capacity to over 40 enterprises. Working with GMIT and iHub, Enterprise Ireland will continue to leverage our strong international reputation as a first-class technology base with a world-class start-up ecosystem to allow ambitious entrepreneurs to start, scale and succeed – providing valuable and highly skilled jobs here into the future”.
The Innovation Hub (iHub) extension journey started back in 2015 with Enterprise Ireland’s funding call for Campus Incubation Extension projects. GMIT were successful in a highly competitive process under this call and achieved funding from Enterprise Ireland of €3m. George McCourt, GMIT’s Head of Innovation & Enterprise, David Lee, GMIT’s Manager of Buildings & Estates, and Des Foley, Head of the GMIT School of Science & Computing, were the GMIT team who won the funding.
Currently, the iHub provides an entrepreneurship eco-system for 23 enterprises: 11 incubation start-up companies in the MedTech and DigitalTech sectors; five start-ups at a very early idea stage; and seven participants on the New Frontiers programme. This is projected to double to over 40 enterprises within the extended iHub.
It will also support several Entrepreneur Development Programmes including Enterprise Ireland’s ‘New Frontiers’, and ‘Empower’–a dedicated entrepreneurship programme for women. It will enable new customised entrepreneurship programmes for GMIT students and graduates and better support youth entrepreneurship within the heart of a vibrant innovation eco-system.
GMIT Vice President for Research & Innovation Dr Rick Officer says: “Colleagues within GMIT’s Research and Innovation and Buildings and Estates function, have worked closely with Enterprise Ireland and GMIT’s appointed design team, led by Van Dijk Architects, to produce an exciting, dynamic building design. The very prominent site on the Galway campus, with south facing aspect over Galway Bay, is on one of the busiest roads in and out of the city.”
David Lee, Manager of Buildings and Estates adds “The building design incorporates external finishes of the highest third-level standards, which are consistent with the existing finishes on GMIT’s multi-award-winning learning resource centre. The extension is designed to provide a striking elevation whilst shielding from solar gain, road noise and wind-driven winter rain. The building is articulated at its western end, providing an impressive bookend to the city-facing corner of GMIT’s Dublin road campus.”
George McCourt, Head of Innovation & Enterprise, GMIT, says: “This extension will provide enhanced infrastructure to foster job creation and start-up growth with a particular focus on export markets.”
“To date, the GMIT iHubs have supported the creation of about 600 new jobs, 32 high-growth start-up companies, 42 client companies relocating to the regions, over €1m in Competitive Start Funding, and €140m in investment funding raised by iHubs client companies. Incubation alumni of the GMIT iHubs include Novate Medical, Veryan Medical, NeoSurgical, Nortev, TradeCert, Chipright, CGA Technology, Hillwalk Tours and Game Golf and others.