SPRAOI agus Spórt have developed exciting new plans for a €450k ‘Digital & Creative Hub’ in Carndonagh.
The new hub will support local entrepreneurship and the creative economy – and will be a key economic driver in the recovery of the town and surrounding areas following the Covid-19 crisis.
The multi-award winning social enterprise aims to regenerate Carndonagh by establishing a Digital & Creative Hub that incorporates a ‘FabLab’ (digital fabrication laboratory & technology centre), a creative workspace for local artists, designers and craftspeople, and a ‘Co-Work Plus’ centre for business startups, entrepreneurs, freelancers and remote workers.
Co-founder and CEO of Spraoi agus Spórt Helen Nolan said: “I’m delighted to be involved in this amazing project which will be critical for the regeneration of Carndonagh and the surrounding areas as we emerge from Covid-19.
“Our plans for a new Digital & Creative Hub in the town are dedicated to supporting local entrepreneurship and the creative economy – and will also importantly allow people in our community to produce things that are needed in the local community.
“The importance of developing a new Digital & Creative Hub has been brought to the fore in recent months with our FabLab making PPE (visors) that have played a key role in protecting local frontline workers.
“Importantly, the capability of being able to make or ramp up production of visors and other PPE is critical in terms of instilling confidence within the local community – providing people with the reassurance that we have a significant level of resilience and self-sufficiency available locally if needed.
“Plans to develop our new Digital & Creative Hub include having such ‘maker’ equipment as 3D printers and laser cutters available which can be used in the production of PPE – as well as other types of tools including sewing machines and a community loom which can be utilised by local designers, artists and craftspeople.
“We also envisage that our new Digital & Creative Hub will provide a wonderful space to help children and young people learn the necessary 21st century skills needed in the future in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM).
“We therefore hope to see our new hub being used by people of all ages and abilities in order to play, create and learn through innovation and invention – and importantly provide a stimulus for local entrepreneurship as an accelerator for business start-ups”.
Helen Nolan also says that Spraoi agus Spórt’s plans for a new Digital & Creative Hub will include a large state-of-the-art ‘CoWork Plus’ space that will enable businesses, entrepreneurs, freelancers and remote workers to build new business networks and support each other during the economic recovery. This space will be an ideal environment for business start-ups and existing rural SMEs.
“Our new hub will also be an increasingly attractive option for larger companies and organisations throughout the country who are reassessing working practices in the wake of Covid-19 and providing budgets for remote workers to find a dedicated remote work station closer to home” she said.
“In recent weeks estate agents throughout our county have been receiving more and more calls from businesses and individuals based in Dublin who are looking to move to Donegal in light of the ongoing challenges and strains of city living that have become even more pronounced during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Importantly, high-speed broadband, which will be provided at our new Digital & Creative Hub here in Carndonagh, will therefore become a more compelling proposition for many businesses and individuals seeking to relocate or looking at the positive benefits of a healthy work / life balance”.
Helen Nolan also says that their proposed plans for the new Digital & Creative Hub will be a huge undertaking for the social enterprise that will require significant investment, resources and effort.
“We have identified premises for our new Digital & Creative Hub at a central location in the town. However, the vacant building will require considerable refurbishment” she said.
“Funding will also be needed to purchase machinery, a new FabLab fit-out and an administrative space to ensure optimum manufacturing conditions.
“We have identified the costs involved in bringing this exciting project to fruition and have developed a plan to raise the necessary funding. We anticipate that the total cost of the project will be approximately €450k – and we have already secured a third of this figure – €150k. We are also currently in the process of applying for further funding from a number of sources – including the ‘Town and Village Renewal Scheme’ which is supporting projects that aid the economic and social recovery of towns and villages throughout the country in response to Covid-19.
“Whilst I have no doubts that the new hub will be a major undertaking for Spraoi agus Spórt, this incredible project has the potential to be a real ‘game-changer’ in terms of its capacity to deliver pioneering and innovative services for Carndonagh and the surrounding areas.
“With the establishment of a state-of-the-art Digital & Creative Hub in the town this will not only create new opportunities for local people of all ages and abilities in our area but will also provide a fantastic impetus for the wider regeneration and economic development of Inishowen and highlight the importance of #StayLocal during these uncertain times”.