Creating a centre of digital excellence across Dublin

A new plan aims to put the city at the heart of the digital world, but what do people working in the area think of it?

Soundwave founder and chief executive Brendan O’Driscoll: “The major global tech players are being lured to set up offices in Ireland by the IDA”.

Soundwave founder and chief executive Brendan O’Driscoll: “The major global tech players are being lured to set up offices in Ireland by the IDA”.

Thu, May 2, 2013, 12:35

Dublin’s Digital Masterplan to develop the city as a centre of digital excellence will be unveiled next month. The plan will provide a common focus for a number of smart technology initiatives but also use international best practice and citizen opinion.

Its publication is the beginning of an effort by Dublin City Council and partners to ensure the city establishes itself as a digital city. Launching the plan in November, Lord Mayor Naoise Ó Muirí said the city could no longer wait for Government action around a digital strategy for the State.

The masterplan he said, would create a “digitally connected and sustainable city, from home to workplace, from streetscape to public park and from healthcare to education”. The masterplan will be modelled on similar digital development plans already in place in New York, Barcelona and London.

The next major event ahead of the June launch will be the Open Innovation 2.0: Sustainable Economy Society conference in Dublin Castle on May 20th. This is a collaboration between the European Commission Open Innovation and Strategy Policy Group, Intel Labs Europe, Dublin City Council, Trinity College and many other stakeholders, organised in association with the Irish Presidency of the European Union, and is aimed at bringing together senior decision-makers, policy leaders, leading executives and social innovators to initiate a manifesto, platform and road map for sustainable economic and societal development.

Ahead of the masterplan launch, The Irish Times asked those working in technology and start-ups for their thoughts on the plan.


Frankie Whelan
Co-founder, Pewter Games Studios
I think the city needs more incubation spaces for tech start-ups. There are some great ones, like NDRC’s [National Digital Research Centre] LaunchPad, but spaces are quite limited. As the games industry has a long development process before the product is released and income generated, a start-up is always trying hard to survive those first months with as few overheads as possible.

We’re lucky enough to have access to office space thanks to Games Ireland, but the city really needs a space with hot-desking and free business and legal advisers available. Tech start-ups often seem to lack that legal/business background, so free advice in that area would be very beneficial.

Realistically, there are a lot of supports already out there, but it takes a lot of work to go and find them. Start-ups need to realise that trawling through websites is currently an important part of the business.

We’ve committed a sizeable amount of time to researching what’s out there, but there’s still the case that we’re only hearing about certain schemes after they’ve been awarded. If an actual physical incubation hub is out of the question, then at the very least there should be a Dublin-centric website with comprehensive listings of current supports.

In terms of the games industry, Ireland has always been great at the middleware, at servicing the industry and consuming the products, but we’ve never really been producers. There’s a current upsurge of small Irish game design studios, and the right supports could see this flourish and Dublin become a global player in a billion dollar industry.


Brendan O’Driscoll
Founder and chief executive,


Soundwave

I think the Government’s steps to ensure that Dublin become a cutting-edge tech capital have been extremely effective to date. Organisations like Enterprise Ireland have been investing in early-stage Irish tech start -ups, concepts are being incubated from ‘ideas to income’ by centres such as the National Digital Research Centre, and the major global tech players are being lured to set up offices in Ireland by the IDA.

Dublin City Council has done a fantastic job in rolling out free wifi to the city centre. I think that it is of paramount importance that the rollout of this programme continues to be expanded to cement Dublin’s place as a leading tech capital.


Ronan Morris
Client director, QT Comments
Dublin City Council has great control of what happens and what is visible on the streets of the city. There are opportunities within this to improve the overall connectivity between the online and offline worlds.

Wifi hotspots are very important but perhaps get too much focus relative to other potential initiatives. DCC should devote energy to staying as close as possible to the changing (tech-driven) behaviours of city residents, visitors and businesses in order to be able to develop relevant actions to support Dublin’s already strong tech credentials.