Visit to Innovation Districts London

Here East, London

7th February 2019


Good morning,

Thank you all for being here today. I’m delighted that so many people instrumental to this great initiative have travelled over. I’m sure that, like me, you’re excited about this opportunity of visiting three different innovation districts, here in London, and learning best practice for the Grand Canal Innovation District that we will establish in Dublin.

It’s only a year since many of us were in Kendall Square in Massachusetts looking at Boston’s famous innovation district. Previous to that we visited over a dozen cities around the world – including Philadelphia, Miami, St Louis, Rotterdam, Paris and indeed London - to observe first-hand how they had established innovation districts. And we met with leaders of the world’s best universities to understand better their role in enabling innovation, enterprise and cultural transformation in their regions.

In the last twelve months we’ve made really significant progress in delivering on our ambition for a new tech campus and a globally competitive innovation district for Ireland.

Trinity has signed an MOU and is working in partnership with UCD, DCU and the new Technological University Dublin. It’s important that this campus and district is founded on partnership and I’m delighted that our partner universities are here with us on this trip.

The vision and ambition for the Grand Canal Innovation District was launched by An Taoiseach in July in the Lir Theatre.

Trinity will develop a campus that will help position Ireland as a research and innovation leader. Importantly, the campus will be designed with open walls, providing shared public spaces, cultural amenities, cafes and shops. This will be a development for the whole community, not only businesses and academics.

Over the last few months, we’ve been working on a Masterplan which we aim to open for public consultation this summer.

Trinity has also determined its cornerstone activity for the site – the E3 Research Institute. In the last year we received the largest single donation from an Irish philanthropist – Martin Naughton – of €25 million euro to support the development of the E3 Foundry on our main campus and the E3 Research Institute at our proposed Grand Canal campus. 

Since the launch in July, the Taoiseach has established an Advisory Council chaired by Martin Fraser, Secretary General. Members of this Council include senior representatives from industry and government as well as the university presidents. This group has already met three times and we will have two further meetings this quarter and will then issue a report providing insights and recommendations.

I want to thank the Department of an Taoiseach for their leadership in establishing this committee and their support.

Thanks also to funding received through Enterprise Ireland’s Regional Enterprise Development fund and the Department of Housing’s Urban Regeneration and Development Fund. This funding will support early activation on the site, creating a new innovation hub and providing space usable by all – start-ups, multinationals, local communities and our partner higher education institutions. This space will act as an early catalyst for the innovation district.

We want the local community to be involved from the outset and to provide input into how to use this space – I’m delighted that Elaine, Emma and Amanda could join us for these two days.

We are entering into a busy period for this project and I urge you to remain supportive of the vision that could be transformative, not just for Dublin, but for Ireland. I hope that over the two days, you will witness how shared ownership of such a project, involving community, universities and industry, can bring social and economic benefits to a district.

The economic cost benefit analysis commissioned by Trinity has shown that the proposed development can make a significant positive economic contribution to the Irish economy. What is critical for our future success is that we work together to achieve something that everybody will want to be part of.

I hope you find the next two days beneficial and enjoyable and I look forward to our continuing partnership.

Thank you