The Digital Hub: Keeping the Liberties alive with culture

The Digital Hub: Keeping the Liberties alive with culture

Fiach Mac Conghail has been CEO of The Digital Hub since November 2016. He is responsible for leading and delivering on the organisation’s strategy to develop the technology enterprise cluster and help to shape Ireland’s digital future.

Before joining The Digital Hub, Mac Conghail was director and CEO of the Abbey Theatre for more than a decade. He also previously held the position of artistic director at the Project Arts Centre and was policy adviser to the Minister for Arts, Sports and Tourism.

Based in the historic Liberties area of Dublin city centre, The Digital Hub houses almost 80 established businesses, employing more than 700 people. It is the largest cluster of digital media, technology and internet businesses in Ireland.

As we prepare to head into 2019, we spoke to Mac Conghail about some of the projects The Digital Hub has in the pipeline.

Tell us what you have achieved at the Digital Hub in 2018.

We have supported some amazing companies this year, including a few that are really growing their businesses. Wachsman is a global professional services agency specialising in blockchain communications and strategy that has expanded operations this year. It has almost doubled its team, so we facilitated a move to a much larger office in one of our flagship buildings. They are a great bunch of people and they really get involved in events and activities at The Digital Hub.

Another company, PatientMpower, has also expanded. It is an amazing health-tech company dealing with pulmonary lung disease. Such extraordinary work it is doing. Earlier this year, it won a major international medtech competition, winning a one-third share of a $1m prize fund. It is one of a cohort of connected health companies we are currently developing.

Our ability to accommodate and provide flexible leasing arrangements to support companies such as Wachsman and PatientMpower as they continue to expand is one of our USPs.

‘Making a valuable contribution to the positive urban regeneration of the Liberties has always been a core value for The Digital Hub’

I think we have achieved a great mix of companies here this year, from gaming to health-tech and everything in between. We keep tabs on that all the time, so when a company applies to locate their business at our campus, we examine how our community is made up at that point in time. We check in on the mix of Irish and global companies, what size businesses are here; who might be set to expand, export to new markets and are using different technologies.

In a first for The Digital Hub, we launched an artist-in-residence programme this year. We have two hugely talented artists who are working on exciting projects and programmes, which will come to fruition in March 2019.

This artist-in-residence programme builds on our ongoing work to position The Digital Hub at an intersection between innovation, art and technology to the benefit of enterprises at The Digital Hub and the residents of the Liberties community.

We are already planning further exhibitions and events. We’ll participate in Culture Night in September, and some creative work arising from our artist-in-residence programme will be seen early next year.

Photographer and award-winning visual artist Mandy O’Neill is exploring the themes of education, youth and community within the context of the unique Liberties area and she will present her work at an exhibition at The Digital Hub in March 2019.

We also have a filmmaker in residence, Mia Mullarkey, who, as part of her residency, has developed and is currently delivering a learning initiative for us called Screen8. It’s a free out-of-school programme for local 14- to 16-year-olds that gives them hands-on experience of making movies, and is designed to give our young people an opportunity to be creative and develop skills and talents for a future career in film. They are currently working on a short film, which will have its world premiere at the Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival in March – so we’re very much looking forward to seeing that.

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