The Guinness Enterprise Centre (GEC) in the Liberties area of Dublin is to play host to a new healthtech cluster as part of a collaboration with St James's Hospital.
The St James's Hospital Innovation Centre at GEC will be focused on medical devices and digital health. The idea is to support start-ups that are developing solutions that could be trialled at the nearby hospital.
GEC, which operates as a not-for-profit organisation, provides office space for start-ups and companies that are scaling up. It is already home to a number of highly regarded companies in the healthtech space, including Wellola, Selio Medical and Food Marble.
"We see the innovation centre as something that has the potential to grow significantly over time," Michael Culligan, director of GEC, said.
The centre, located on Taylor’s Lane near the Guinness Storehouse, has just formally reopened after a major €10 million expansion that involved adding two additional floors. A €1 million phase two investment has now been announced with GEC experiencing strong demand, in part due to changed working patterns linked to the Covid crisis.
The new expansion provides the centre with capacity for 150 start-ups. It also has space for a further 220 co-working companies. It has already received commitments for 80 per cent of available space from companies and expects to reach full capacity by early 2022.
GEC offers private, shared and co-working office space, meeting rooms and conference facilities for start-ups and scaling companies. In addition to hosting many companies on a full-time basis, it has also partnered with more than 40 regional hubs to provide firms from outside Dublin with temporary desk space when in the capital.
Among the other companies based at the centre are Black Shamrock, Volograms and Benetel.
Mr Culligan said GEC was focused on becoming a "global entrepreneurial superhub" to mirror similar endeavours such as Station F in Paris and 1871 in Chicago.
"Our vision is to be one of a small number of interconnected global hubs that can help companies grow beyond Ireland."
He said that while it had taken a financial hit during the Covid crisis, GEC had managed to retain almost all of its existing clients.
“It is exciting times ahead for us. We see huge opportunities to help support companies to grow and for GEC to be recognised globally,” said Mr Culligan.
Funding for the recent expansion came via a long-term loan from GEC; the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF); the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment's Regional Enterprise Development Fund administered by Enterprise Ireland; Dublin City Council; Diageo; and Dublin BIC.