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New innovation hub to foster entrepreneurs

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The new Innovation Hub located in a CIE building behind Ceannt Station is hoping to open its doors by the end of September, bringing a range of services to entrepreneurs around the city.

The Galway City Innovation District will be a cluster of Galway City’s entrepreneurs, start-ups, accelerators and incubators and will be close to public transportation and wired for high speed internet, supporting mixed-use development, and nurturing collaboration and knowledge-sharing.

The project is called the PorterShed and will be based in the former Guinness storehouse at the back of the station. Currently the PorterShed team are finalising the lease for the building which will have room for about 85 people, including growth companies with 15 people or more and new companies with only two or three people.

“It’s a very collaborative space, so the idea is that the entrepreneurs will work together, will share, collaborate, helping each other to grow their companies as quickly as possible,” said Maurice O’Gorman of the Galway Chamber of Commerce, who is heavily involved with the project.

“Within that space, there’ll be a lot of services offered to them for free. For example, KPMG will have a business advisor there one day a week. And FOD, the law firm, will have somebody there to help new companies and talk to them about legal structures and give them legal advice.”

Advice on R&D tax credits, banking issues and funding will be readily available in the hub, as well as venture capital funds and angel investors who will be invited to meet the companies based in the PorterShed.

“There’ll be a mentoring service as well, so we’ll be mentoring the companies as they go through. The idea, again, is to get them up and growing as quickly as possible. Also, what we’re trying to do is create an environment where you can get lots of companies establishing in Galway and getting them to grow as quickly as possible,” Mr O’Gorman explained.

A number of organisations, including the Galway Chamber of Commerce, Galway Harbour, Startup Galway, WestBIC and NUI Galway have come together to kick-start the new innovation hub.

The plan is to start with one building – the PorterShed – and then expand to a cluster of many more to create the Galway Innovation District which will include weekly events, coffee with founders, designed workspaces, meeting rooms, hot desks, high speed internet, private phone kiosks and plenty more.

As well as Mr O’Gorman, the project is run by Paul Killoran of Ex Ordo, Michael Fitzgerald of OnePageCRM, John Breslin of NUI Galway and Dave Cunningham of StartX6 – a group of people who are passionate about making Galway an even better city for business.

“But we don’t want the PorterShed or the Galway City Innovation District to just be about Galway City. So what we’re doing is we’re reaching out to the innovation hubs in towns throughout Galway and the idea is that if you’re an entrepreneur and you’re based in Oughterard, for example, you can come and attend all these events that happen in PorterShed. We’ll be streaming them as well so people can see them wherever they are,” Mr O’Gorman explained.

“But also, if you want to come in to the PorterShed and meet the business partners in there, you can come in from Oughterard and book a desk for the day and book your appointments with KPMG and FOD and other people. And you can come in and do that and meet the other entrepreneurs as well.

“So we’re reserving desks for people who are living outside of the city in the rural areas, to integrate them into what’s happening in the city.”

The benefits to the city are endless, according to Mr O’Gorman who says the Innovation Hub would not only bring jobs to the city, but increase the need for services, and in turn increase employment figures in Galway.

“A long-term aim – I mean long-term – between the harbour and the CIE site, you could envisage about 10,000 jobs coming into the city. There are developers who are interested in doing stuff in the city as well now, because obviously this shows that we can bring footfall into the city,” he said.

“So it’ll take time, but hopefully it will grow.”

■ For more information on the PorterShed, visit  www.portershed.com

CITY TRIBUNE

Councillors back bid to ban city centre parking in Galway

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Councillors have unanimously agreed to ask Transport Minister Eamon Ryan to limit parking to residents only in the city centre.

Pedestrians in the city are being treated like second-class citizens, according to the Mayor, who said cars continued to get the priority on Galway’s streets.

At a meeting of the City Council this week, Mayor Colette Connolly (Ind) said the city had come to a standstill in car traffic, and pedestrians and cyclists were suffering the consequences.

“At junctions, why am I a second-class citizen in my own city as a pedestrian? It rains in Galway for 300 days of the year, but I am a second-class citizen when priority is given to motorists.

“It’s always the pedestrian that waits,” she said, hitting out at the length it took to get a green light to cross at pedestrian crossings.

One way to reduce the number of cars in the city centre would be to limit parking to residents only in the city centre, said the Mayor.

In a motion she proposed, seconded by Cllr Mike Cubbard (Ind), councillors unanimously agreed to write to the Minister for Transport to demand he pass the necessary legislation to enable the Council to do this.

The Mayor said residents were “sick, sore and tired” of people parking where they wanted when they visited the city and said despite a desire to introduce this measure going back almost 20 years, the Council was hamstrung by national legislation that prevented them from proceeding.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Planners approve homes for ‘cuckoo fund’ investor

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The green light has been given for the construction of 345 apartments at the Crown Square site in Mervue – the majority of which will be put on the rental market and operated by a ‘cuckoo fund’ for a minimum of fifteen years.

Crown Square Developments, which is owned by developer Padraic Rhatigan, has secured permission from An Bord Pleanála for the ‘Build to Rent’ development, with four blocks ranging ranging from four to nine storeys in height.

There will also be a neighbourhood facility with a gym, a primary care medical centre with pharmacy, a ‘working from home’ lounge, six shops, a games room and a creche.

There will be 240 two-bed apartments, 86 one-beds and 19 three-beds, all of which will be specifically for the rental market and not available to purchase.

A breakdown of the apartments shows there will be 240 two-beds; 86 one-beds and 19 three-beds.

To meet social housing requirements, the developer plans to transfer 35 of the apartments (20 two-bed, 10 one-bed and 5 three-bed) to Galway City Council.

A total of 138 car-parking spaces have been allocated on the lower basement levels of Crown Square for residents, along with shared access to another 109 spaces and another 13 for use by a ‘car club’. There will be 796 secure bicycle parking spaces to serve the apartments.

The Board has ordered that the apartments can only be used as long-term rentals, and none can be used for short-term lettings.

Under ‘Build to Rent’ guidelines, the development must be owned and operated by an institutional entity for a minimum period of 15 years and “where no individual residential units shall be sold separately for that period”. The 15-year period starts from the date of occupation of the first residential unit.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Councillors divided over vote on Salthill Prom cycleway

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A proposal to install a temporary two-way cycle lane along Salthill Promenade hangs in the balance, with city councillors split ahead of a vote next week.

On Monday night, the 18 city councillors will discuss Mayor Colette Connolly’s motion that the lane be installed on the coastal side of the road from Blackrock to a point opposite Galway Business School.

A poll of the councillors carried out by the Galway City Tribune yesterday found nine in favour of the proposal, with one indicating they will abstain. A simple majority is required and if there is a 9-9 split, the Mayor holds a ‘casting’ vote, effectively a second vote.

There has been a flurry of lobbying by cycling campaigners urging councillors to vote in favour, as well as some complaints from residents worried it will again impinge on their parking as visitors to Salthill seek somewhere to park up while they swim or walk along the most utilised resource the city has.

During lockdown, Gardaí removed parking on the Prom to deter people from gathering in a public space. This resulted in motorists blocking driveways and entering private estates, leading one estate off Threadneedle Road to hire a private clamping company.

Mayor Colette Connolly (Ind) believes there are a maximum of 250 spaces that would be lost to the project on one side of the road as currently proposed, including seven disabled spaces, which could be reassigned close by.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read extensive coverage of the issue and to see how each councillor intends to vote, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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