By @SimonCocking great interview with Adrienne Harrington, the new CEO of  The Ludgate Hub Ireland’s first rural digital hub in Skibbereen, West Cork with 1000MB connectivity | powered by .

What is your background briefly?

I’ve been a civil servant for the past 34 years, based in Dublin for the past 25 years. For the past 3 of those, I’ve worked in the Department of the Taoiseach with responsibility for data protection and digital policy.

Does it seem like a logical background to what you do now?

Very much so. Through my last job, I attended the two national digital weeks in Skibbereen. When I came down in 2015, I got talking to John Field about Ludgate and did a tour of what was then still a building site. I was very taken then by both the ambition and the potential of the project.

I’ve also been coming to West Cork on holidays for years and so could see the contribution that the Hub could make to both the economy and life of the area. I dropped into the Hub when I was next on holidays here in Skibb to keep up-to-date with developments and have been following the initiative since.

When I visited for digital week 2016, I was very struck by the progress that had been made as well as by the sense of optimism surrounding the Hub.

What inspired you to chose this position, and move to West Cork? 

My partner and I had always planned to ultimately live in West Cork, and when I saw the job advertised, it seemed to offer the possibility of a job where I could add value as well as one that could make a real difference to the region, with the added bonus of giving us the opportunity to live where we wanted.

1 min pitch for what you are doing now?

Our goal at Ludgate is to enable the creation of 500 direct jobs and 1000 indirect jobs in the West Cork area via a sustainable digital economy. Ludgate is not just about a building and it’s not just about Skibbereen; it’s about a community and enabling the growth of West Cork so that there are high quality jobs here for those who want to live here. Having fast connectivity is not a means in itself, though obviously very welcome; it’s the enabler that will allow us create jobs and so build a better society.

Image in tweet above by Garry Minihane Photographer

Which companies are already based in the Ludgate?

We’ve 35 people now operating out of Ludgate. Of those, 10 are working with 4 of our seed-funded startups – these include a luxury travel company, an ed-tech company, a video production company and another developing a travel platform. As well as the seed-funded companies, we’ve a really wide range of businesses based here, from law to travel to genealogy to marketing to design. And we also have XSellco based here, a Dublin-based company that has already expanded since it set up its satellite office here in June, and has great plans to expand even further. Ludgate has really become an entrepreneurial mini ecosystem. Though what also strikes me in coming into the Hub every day is the buzz and passion in the building that comes from people doing what they love

What are your plans for the next 12 months and beyond?

We’ve very ambitious plans for the next 12 months. Education will be a priority for us and we hope to partner with the local Community School. We’ve also got an exciting project underway that sees us collaborating with the University of Massachusetts and UCC and bringing up to 50 US students to Skibbereen next year. And finally in the education area, we’re looking at new models of third level training and will be bringing our proposals to the Minister for Education shortly.

We’re also looking at how best to develop and grow the entrepreneurial community in West Cork – we’ve started a series of monthly First Tuesday events with an entrepreneurial guest coming to share their story and experience. Cully and Sully are joining us next Tuesday to talk about how their brand – lots of lessons to be learned from them.

I may have arrived just too late to organise a national digital week for this year but there will certainly be a series of events happening over the course of the year.

And beyond this, the Hub needs to look to expand on its partnerships with government, industry and academia – we need to do this to enable the creation of the jobs that we need.

What tips would you give to people thinking of moving out of cities to work in more rural areas / more remotely?

Think about where you want to live and why you particularly want to live there. Above all, don’t be seduced by the fun and unreality of holidays – it’s a very different living somewhere 52 weeks of the year as opposed to 2! Spend some time in the area doing the winter and get a feel for what’s happening then.

And think about where you’ll work – can you work remotely? Does your company facilitate this? does remote working suit your personality – some people just need the buzz of an office.
Also think too about your support systems – what about family and friends and how will you plan to keep in touch. What are your hobbies and can you pursue them in your new location?
Last year, I was advised that if I was moving, I should try and do so while I was still working as being in work immediately allows you to develop your networks in a new place – it certainly has for me in the past few weeks.

How do people find out more about the Ludgate? 

Visit us at www.ludgate.ie, send us an email to [email protected], and we’re also on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Anything else you’d like to add / we should have asked?

My plan for the winter is to bake the perfect sourdough loaf. I’ve been baking for a few years now and in May of this year, I did a baking course on Heir Island. I loved it and I’ve been experimenting since and want to keep that up.


If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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