Fumbally Exchange to open 13 locations after Dublin success

Organisation, founded by architect George Boyle, provides working space for would-be entrepreneurs

    Fumbally Exchange founder George Boyle with President Michael D Higgins at the official opening of the organisation’s new flagship building. Picture Jason Clarke Photography

Fumbally Exchange founder George Boyle with President Michael D Higgins at the official opening of the organisation’s new flagship building. Picture Jason Clarke Photography

Tue, Apr 22, 2014, 15:02

Fumbally Exchange, a not-for-profit organisation that offers a low-cost base and collaboration opportunities for creative businesses, has announced plans to open at as many as 13 new locations.

The organisation, which was founded by architect George Boyle in 2010 to provide working space for would-be entrepreneurs, said it had tripled its membership of small businesses, sole traders and start-ups to more than 150 in the past year. Collectively, these new businesses have a combined turnover of more than €6 million.

According to Ms Boyle, who was speaking at the official opening of the organisation’s flagship building in Dame Lane, Dublin 2 today, more than two-thirds of Fumbally-based businesses are planning to expand this year.

The Fumbally Exchange, which was originally based in Fumbally Square, Dublin 8, was inspired by the Metropolitan Exchange in New York, was originally envisioned as a response to the recession, but has since come to thrive as an effective model for creative business. It seeks to transform how people work by creating a collaborative environment.

The exchange currently hosts 158 member businesses working across a range of sectors including architecture, digital media, copywriting, engineering, interior design, event planning, publishing and photography.

In addition to the Dame Lane building, which was recently refurbished through the voluntary efforts of its members, the organisation also has locations in Balbriggan, Co Dublin and Waterford, as well as a sister Exchange in Ravenna, Italy.

Fumbally Exchange is opening what it calls a “hedge school for businesses” later this month, which will be known as the FEx Academy. The initiative, which will be based at Dame Lane, will offer training and education for small organisations.

The organisation is also planning a further 13 Fumbally Exchanges in Ireland and the UK, including one in Inchicore, which is due to open this summer.

The new 15-desk location, which is hosted in a former bank, will provide a base for social entrepreneurs and is also set to be home to the new SEED (Social Entrepreneurs and Enterprise Development) centre, a new national development centre for the sector.

Speaking at the official opening, President Michael D Higgins said Fumbally Exchange served as an a valuable example of what could be achieved by creative business people working together.

“The idea of a community of originators, thinkers, problem-solvers, entrepreneurs and artists all gathered together under one roof is something very, very important. Our future in Ireland is neither derivative nor speculative, but rather there are great possibilities for us in drawing on innovation and creativity,” he said.