Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) is set to double the size of its Innovation Hub (iHub) building at the Galway campus following €5m funding approval from Enterprise Ireland. Minister for Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation Mary Mitchell O’ Connor announced the funding details during a visit to GMIT today (Thursday 18 May), welcomed by GMIT President, Dr Fergal Barry, GMIT Chairman Cormac MacDonncha, Enterprise Ireland Director – West Region Barry Egan, Cllr Moegie Maher, Governing Body member, and Dr Rick Officer, VP for Research & Innovation, GMIT.
Enterprise Ireland will contribute €3m towards the cost of the building extension while GMIT will provide €500,000; Enterprise Ireland also approved funding of €1.8m for the New Frontiers Programme 2016 – 2020 which is delivered in GMIT’s two Innovation Hubs by New Frontiers Manager Tony O’Kelly.
New Frontiers is Enterprise Ireland’s national entrepreneur development programme for innovative, early stage start-ups. Previous participants on the GMIT New Frontiers programme include DiaNia Technologies, Contego Sports, TaxHug, Allergy Lifestyle, Wildwood Vinegars, Rockfield Medical, BriteBiz and VT Networks.
GMIT’s Building & Estates Office are in the process of appointing a Design Team for the extension works. It’s hoped that construction work will commence in 2018. The proposed extension aims to increase the floor space of the iHub to 2,400 square metres from its current 1,150 sqm.
Announcing details of the funding support, Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor says: “Supports such as the Enterprise Ireland’s Campus Incubation and New Frontiers Programmes are all the more crucial now in the current trading environment where companies need to be more innovative and competitive. I welcome the planned extension to the GMIT IHub Incubation Centre which will see its capacity increase three-fold. The New Frontiers is a further key support for innovative, early-stage start-ups and I would urge anyone with a business idea to consider applying to this important entrepreneur development programme”
Welcoming the Minister, Enterprise Ireland staff and guests to the iHub, GMIT President, Dr Fergal Barry, said: “The Institute has further plans to develop enterprise and innovation space in all of its campuses. The extension of our iHub will allow GMIT to continue to support the development of export orientated Irish businesses with a particular focus in the Medical Device industry integrating our Innovation activity with our long establish excellence in research in this field and our newly launched undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering. Recently we also established a new Creative Hub for gaming projects, animation features and TV projects at our Centre for the Creative Arts and Media here in Galway city. We hope that the cumulative total of job creation supported though our Enterprise centres in all our campuses will double and that the number of companies supported annually will increase.”
Barry Egan, Regional Director, West Region, Enterprise Ireland said: “A priority for Enterprise Ireland is to help Irish entrepreneurs and companies to start and we are delighted to support the expansion of the Innovation Hub at GMIT which will greatly contribute to the growing eco-system for start-ups in the west of Ireland. The Innovation Hub will become the space for start-ups in the Galway region and will further support the growth of a new wave of technology companies. Working with GMIT and the Innovation Hub, Enterprise Ireland will continue to leverage our strong international reputation as a first-class technology base with a world-class start-up ecosystem to allow ambitious entrepreneurs to start, scale and succeed – providing valuable and highly skilled jobs here into the future.”
George McCourt, Head of Innovation & Enterprise, says: “We are delighted with this Campus Incubation Extension funding approval from Enterprise Ireland. This additional incubation capacity will enable GMIT iHubs to build on the successful start-up and enterprise support eco-system in place and expand our range of start-up services across the West Region”.
GMIT’s Innovation Hubs have contributed significantly to the economic and social development of the region since their establishment in Galway and Mayo ten years ago. They have supported the creation of 500+ new jobs, 30 High Growth Start Ups, 32 client companies re-locating to the regions, and assisted in raising investment funding of €130m. In addition, they provide collaborative opportunities for GMIT students and staff to work on research & innovation projects and work placements with client companies in the innovation hubs.
The iHubs are currently fully occupied, accommodating some 46 enterprises; 13 are start -ups on the New Frontiers programme, 17 are incubation enterprises, nine start-ups are at Concept Desk stage and seven in Virtual Incubation. The Galway and Mayo iHubs also support GMIT graduate entrepreneurs and 13 student entrepreneurs – winners of local and regional innovation awards (GMIT and SCCUL).
Client companies currently occupying the iHubs include Marvao Medical, OneTouch Telecare, Capsos Medical, Rockfield Medical, BlueDrop Medical, Kite Medical, GIRT, CALP, Cloud Strong, Siscin, Traffic Attic, Tr3Dent and Happy Media to name a few.
Relocated client companies from the iHubs include Novate Medical, Veryan Medical, NeoSurgical, Nortev, TradeCert, Horizon, TruckScience, Chipright, CGA Technology, Hillwalk Tours and Game Golf.
James Byrne, CEO Hillwalk Tours – provider of self-guided hiking tours in Ireland and the UK including six different regions along the Wild Atlantic Way, who re-located from the iHub Galway in June last after four years of incubation and start-up support, says “During our time at the GMIT Innovation Hub, Hillwalk Tours transformed from a tiny start-up of just two people to an award-winning organisation employing 16 people. This was no coincidence. The combination of working in an environment with other export-driven, like-minded entrepreneurs and the support and mentoring we received from George McCourt and his team have helped to drive us forward to achieve our potential.”
For further information on GMIT’s Innovation Hubs, please visit: http://www.gmit.ie/gmit-innovation-hubs