CHILDREN growing up in West Cork will be the most digitally literate in the country.
That’s according to the chief executive of digital hub Ludgate, after funding of €2m was secured from Enterprise Ireland under the Regional Enterprise Development Fund.
Ludgate’s Adrienne Harrington confirmed that the funding will be payable over the next three to four years and will lead to the creation of 390 jobs over that timeframe.
She described the announcement by the Enterprise Minister, Heather Humphreys, as ‘a game-changer for us because it will allow us to propel ourselves to the next level of development.’
Ms Harrington explained that without any Government support, Ludgate created 100 new jobs in Skibbereen over the last two years.
‘With a €2m investment package in place,’ she said, ‘we will now be able to create the 390 new jobs over the next four years.
‘The new jobs will,’ she added, ‘be a key component in rural regeneration and the building of a sustainable community in West Cork.’
Ms Harrington said there are four key pillars to the €2m financial package.
The first is the creation of a business development unit, with a newly appointed officer, to assist companies in Cork and Dublin that are in expansion mode, but find the cities no longer financially viable.
The second is an education and digital innovation centre, with a newly appointed officer, to build on Ludgate’s work with the schools in the development of digital literacy and Stem skills.
Ms Harrington explained: ‘We have been working with UCC and Skibbereen Community School to roll out this digital literacy programme and we hope to modify it for primary level.’
She said the students will be able to visit the digital innovation centre, and that there will also be a new digital bus for the schools – all of which will ‘allow the children growing up in West Cork be the most digitally literate in the country.’
The third pillar is the creation of a start-up campus, with a newly appointed officer, to provide greater support to our start-ups as they develop and grow, and also to develop Ludgate’s mentoring service.
The fourth pillar will be the creation of a food-tech and agri-tech academy, with a newly appointed officer, to help build on West Cork’s well-deserved reputation as the premier producer of artisan foods.
The funding will also allow for the overall development of a ‘hub academy’ that will allow Ludgate share its skills and experience with other towns.
Since Ludgate was established in the summer of 2016, Ms Harrington said, the hub has had well over 60 towns and villages from around the country visit the centre.
John Field, chairman of the Ludgate board, welcomed the announcement saying: ‘This is great news for Ludgate, Skibbereen, and West Cork. It is practical Government support for a voluntary initiative that started just four years ago. This will mean new jobs for the area. I would like to pay tribute to the board of Ludgate for their ongoing work.’
Minister for Mental Health and Older People, Jim Daly TD, described the ongoing success story at Ludgate as an example of the adage ‘build it and they will come.’
‘The age of digital brings its problems, but the plus side is there are no geographical boundaries to enterprise and development,’ he added.
The junior Minister said ‘a small town in West Cork has become a blue-print for rural innovation.’