The Ludgate Hub

Entrepreneurship, Employment

It is a non-for-profit co-working space and entrepreneurship incubator in Skibbereen, West Cork, Ireland. Skibbereen is a rural town in West Cork which, as with most rural locations, challenged by skills retention, economic development and jobs growth. The Ludgate Hub aims to reverse this by creating a sustainable economic ecosystem via digital entrepreneurship. The Ludgate Hub aims to facilitate up to 75 people in a creative co-working environment with an overall long-term objective to facilitate 500 direct jobs and 1000 indirect jobs via creating a viable digital economy. The Ludgate Hub attracted the service provider SIRO to choose Skibbereen as pilot rural town for the provision of the 1Gb broadband connectivity. Skibbereen is Ireland’s first and only 1Gb rural town now having the same broadband speed as Singapore. The Hub was created as a result of the shared vision of a number of business people with strong local connections and enabled by the availability of gigabit broadband from SIRO. To date, significant private investment has been committed to the construction of the Ludgate Hub, with a board of thirteen operating on a pro-bono basis. The board has vocally pushed for the acceleration of Skibbereen and West Cork's digitisation. Digitisation of rural Ireland is akin to the electrification of Ireland, the influence of the digital economy will be the driving force in balancing the rural economic environment. The Hub which formally a cinema from 1941-1981, then a bakery to the mid 00s and was then left unoccupied. Board member John Field made the Bakery Building available towards the initiative. The hub which is in the centre of Skibbereen town is now a beacon of innovation and has already started to encourage fringe enterprises as a spin off. The initiation of this innovation centres coupled with the provision of the 1Gb of broadband connectivity has grown exponentially the potential of this region to grow and flourish creatively.

Networking, Services delivery

The community at large are the main beneficiaries as The Ludgate Hub has proven highly successful in creating a local ecosystem enabling rural economic growth and sustainable communities. It is enabling the return of emigrants and the inward migration of professionals to the area. Skibbereen is now hugely attractive to digitally enabled businesses which need this high-level connectivity (e.g. web developers, designers, fintech, online services, video production). Evidence of success: - 15 new members permanently located to West Cork with their families; - 11 rural retailers now trading online; - up to 25 co-working companies engaged per year. - The Ludgate Hub National Digital Week attracts approx. 1600 attendees annually to the region. - More than 250 people attend the hub / month. • South-West Region Action Plan for Jobs 2015-2017

* Information at the level of NUTS 3 or local regions.