By @SimonCocking

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 Photos by permission of Digital Hub

ITN meet Gerry Macken, the new(ish) CEO of the Digital Hub. He was enthusiastic about the organisation, and his role, as the captain of the ship, trying to get the best results for everyone involved. He spoke positively about the exciting vision for the whole area and buildings encompassed by the Digital Hub.

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There are plans for new student accommodation, and to also renovate and expand the office space available for start-ups in the Digital Hub ecosphere. The campus is at near complete occupancy, with several notable successes including Eventbrite, Etsy, Sonru, and Creative Nation having already emerged. Macken was also pleased that 40% of their client base had also come from outside sources, demonstrating a healthy mix on local and overseas talent concentrated within the Digital Hub.

It was an interesting and eye opening whistle stop tour of all the properties owned by the Digital Hub, and a fascinating insight into how the future of the area could turn out.

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How has 2014 been for the Digital Hub?

Month on month throughout 2014 we have seen The Digital Hub enterprise cluster grow.  In fact we have 88 tech companies here today and we have many leads we are currently trying to accommodate. We recently won an award – The Best Place to be.  This was awarded to us by the IIA and it demonstrates that The Digital Hub has a lot to offer, from great office spaces, a sense of community and collaboration for the companies here and a great mix of existing companies here from small Irish companies to larger European and US companies all working side-by side.

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Of the fourteen new companies that joined us in Q3 of this year six were from outside the Republic of Ireland (namely, the UK, France, Norway, Sweden and the US).  They collectively employ 64 people at present and are expected to create 52 additional high-skilled jobs over the next six months.

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Tell us about the synergies from companies in close proximity to each other within the Digital Hub?

Sometimes it’s as simple as someone with a problem in one company just talking about the problem while waiting for a coffee in our café and someone else in line saying I know someone that can help you with that. We have had instances in the past where a one person company needs a new website or logo and they get talking to their neighbours in the office next door who just happens to be a web developer or graphic designer. You don’t always get this type of easy collaboration in typical serviced office spaces.

Many of our companies have remarked that its one of the things they love about The Digital Hub  – everyone is friendly, open and there is a sense we are all in the same boat….all in the same sector and will have similar challenges and experiences.

What sort of trends are emerging? Is it all IT, or are companies moving into other things

We have the entire digital ecosystem here at The Digital Hub.  From the ideas people and creatives to the coders to the digital marketeers and salespeople.  In terms of trends we have had two great transmedia companies move into The Digital Hub in the last year – Athena Media and beActive media.  The best way to explain the term Transmedia is to look at beActive’s Sci-Fi production called ‘Collider’.

The Collider story is told across several platforms, including film/cinema, comic books, webisodes and an app/game.  Another example from Athena Media is  their recent project for the Ombudsman for Children’s Office. Which incorporated audio, video, social media and a microsite called Itsyourright.ie and an iPad app with video, audio and learning resources.

In terms of companies moving into other things we have Maithu who specialise in creating mobile Apps, Websites and coming up with innovative software solutions. Over the last year or so they been working alongside many Hospital’s to design apps beneficial to aiding hospital staff in the delivery of care. The whole area of eHealth is becoming an increasingly big area.  We are playing our own part in this through our involvement with St. James Hospital in our Connected Health pro    gramme and our partnerships with the Health Innovation Hub in Cork.

Can Dublin companies scale? Do they have to move to London / California?

It’s interesting to note that we have seen a big spike this year in companies at The Digital Hub asking us for help in advertising their job vacancies on our website and social networks, so it’s apparent that many of our companies are scaling and expanding their teams and seeking larger offices within The Digital Hub enterprise space.

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What else would you like to add?

I would like to say that 2014 has been a busy year for our organisation.  At the beginning of the year we opened the Gatelodge and quickly moved some existing and new companies into the great office space there, which freed up offices elsewhere on our campus.  We are always willing to meet new companies interested in setting up offices here and to show them around and we are excited about the opening of additional office space in 2015.

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We also discussed Wearable Wednesdays, and the interesting future trends identified for wearables. Macken’s enthusiasm for similar information events within the Digital Hub was clear to see. The Digital Hub seems keen to continue to encourage as much innovation as possible moving into the future.