SKIBBEREEN’S digital hub, which began life in a former supermarket bakery three years ago, is ready for a major expansion.
Ludgate, which provides 1GB broadband-connected office space for local businesses and individuals, has just announced a third location, having already confirmed ‘Ludgate 2’ following the purchase of a former secondary school in the town.
In the featured interview on this week’s Southern Star Coronavirus Podcast, the hub’s new chief executive Grainne O’Keeffe, explained how the digital workspace has had several new enquiries for desks as a result of the boom in ‘remote working’, due to the pandemic.
The Townshend Street hub, which is powered by a Vodafone and ESB/Siro partnership, based its success on attracting ex-pats and others seeking a healthy lifestyle to work remotely from West Cork.
But since March of this year, enquiries for workspaces have increased and the board is bracing itself for continued interest over the coming months.
This week Ms O’Keeffe, herself a returned native who worked in financial services in London, New York and Tokyo, revealed that ‘Ludgate 3’ will be on stream in the coming weeks.
Based in the former Roycroft Cycles building near SuperValu in the centre of town, it will offer seven more high-tech workspaces for hire, in a private setting.
The current offices provide desks in mostly open-plan areas, but Ms O’Keeffe admitted that social distancing has meant a reduction was required in desks but that some companies are not suited to the open-plan office set-up.
‘We’ve had enquiries from legal, health and financial services firms, so there is definitely a demand for private spaces too,’ she pointed out. Those spaces will now be available before the end of the month.
Last year the board of Ludgate announced it was at capacity in its original building and was looking to expand. That expansion was realised with the purchase of the former Mercy Heights secondary school building which, it is hoped, will be ready for occupancy next summer.
Part of ‘Ludgate 2’ will be a new Stem unit – to promote science and technology as a career among West Cork’s school pupils. This exciting ‘innovation centre’ is being backed by Google, the Department of Education, UCC and CIT.
‘We hope to have that facility ready to welcome students within 12 months to help them foster their digital learning,’ added Ms O’Keeffe.
She said Ludgate was always seen as a ‘movement’ rather than a company and that as it continued to expand, it would seek to target older buildings in the town, that needed some improvements in order to add them to the Ludgate family.
To hear the interview in full, search for ‘Ludgate’ on www.southernstar.ie and see next week’s paper for more on the proposed Stem unit, involving local schools.