Tánaiste hails new innovation hub

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has hailed the success of a Dublin-based innovation hub that is aiding job creation and entrepreneurship…

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has hailed the success of a Dublin-based innovation hub that is aiding job creation and entrepreneurship as an "inspiration for a new Ireland."

Mr Gilmore was speaking at the official launch of Fumbally Exchange, a not-for-profit design and innovation hub just off Clanbrassil Street which is now home to more than 40 small businesses.

Fumbally Exchange, which is entirely self-funded, offers low-cost office space for small businesses and seeks to encourage members to collaborate on new projects.

Such dividends have already paid off with a number of new commissions secured by the collective, including development on a GAA clubhouse in New York.

The project was set up by George Boyle, a former associate director of Murray O'Laoire architects, after the firm collapsed in May 2010.

Inspiration for the project came in part from the Metropolitian Exchange, a co-operative of creative professionals in Brooklyn, New York.

Fumbally Exchange members include architects, designers, engineers, marketing professionals, translators and planners. Many of those associated with the exchange set themselves up in business after losing their jobs in the recession.

In addition to providing desk-space to small businesses, the 40,000 sq ft centre also regularly hosts exhibitions and seminars and is seeking to become more active in the local community.

Speaking at today's launch Mr Gilmore described the initiative as "inspiring and was evidence of a new way of doing business."

"In many ways what we have here is the microcosm of Ireland's recovery. This is recovery in action. This is people who have hit on hard times (and) got themselves back up again, who are moving forward, creating new opportunities and expanding their businesses," he said.

"This is very much a community centred approach which is very much tied into what is happening in the local area...this is real work and real employment," Mr Gilmore added.

Ms Boyle said the exchange was more than just a serviced office space and had been deliberately created to help people back into the workplace.

"Fumbally is a place for people to start their own businesses and get their own wings," she said. "Outside of that we have a much bigger agenda and are really trying to force change."

Such thoughts were echoed by those working at the facility.

"Beyond the physical space that the Fumbally Exchange occupies, there is a bigger community of like-minded professional creative heads. Tapping into this creativity and having a hub for it is what makes Exchange work," said Patrick McKenna , owner of Wabi Sabi, a bespoke furniture and joinery company, which is based at the centre.