9th Dec 2020
Kildare is leveraging its strategic location and other assets to position itself as a major hub for business in Ireland and an engine for future economic growth in the Mid-East region.
With a well-educated workforce, strong infrastructure and transport links and a progressive cross-agency approach to economic stimulation, the Thoroughbred County is primed for growth in the years ahead.
“Kildare is a dynamic, fast-moving county. It’s one of the fastest growing counties in the country and can, therefore, offer potential employers the critical mass they need,” Peter Carey, chief executive of Kildare County Council, said.
Kildare is the fifth most populated county in Ireland with 222,500 residents, half of whom have a third-level or post-graduate qualification.
“We are working with Local Enterprise Office (LEO) Kildare to develop a network of innovation hubs across the county as part of the Mid-East Regional Enterprise Plan developed by Enterprise Ireland and the Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment,” Carey said.
These hubs will include the Mid-East Region Innovation Think Space (Merits) in Naas and a new Equine Innovation Hub at the Irish National Stud in Tully.
Equine Innovation Hub
Often referred to as the Thoroughbred County, Kildare is regarded by many as the home of the equine industry in Ireland with three racecourses (the Curragh, Punchestown and Naas) as well as Goffs. Kildare is also home to an estimated 800 breeders and almost 180 trainers.
Key to the county’s enviable international reputation in the sector is the Irish National Stud, the highly-regarded thoroughbred horse-breeding facility established in Tully in 1946.
Now, the National Stud is set to enter a new era as it prepares to open the Equine Innovation Hub in partnership with Kildare County Council.
Peter Carey said the hub would promote innovation in the equine sector, by supporting entrepreneurial businesses in the field and fast-tracking the commercialisation of equine research.
“The Irish National Stud’s pivotal role in the development of world-class equine and human talent marked it out as the perfect location for the hub,” Carey said.
Construction on the new 14-desk coworking facility will commence next month, transforming the existing museum at the stud into a space for forward-focused innovation.
“The building will be reimagined and will combine physical infrastructure with service provision and networking opportunities appropriate to the growth needs of Ireland’s high-potential equine businesses,” Carey said.
Cathal Beale, chief executive at the Irish National Stud, said the hub would create exciting opportunities for the equine industry in Ireland.
“Our ambition is to provide a space that is not only used by start-ups and spin-outs, but also has a clear objective to stimulate innovation and R&D activity in existing businesses in our sector, ensuring that they benefit in terms of growth, competitiveness and productivity,” Beale said.
“The hub will also create a supportive environment that can attract researchers with international experience, while also offering opportunities for our graduate community.
“In partnership with Kildare County Council, Local Enterprise Office Kildare and industry agencies, it is our intention to foster an environment of innovation and to stimulate job creation within the county and beyond.”
The Equine Innovation Hub will be funded by the County Kildare LEADER partnership, and it is not the only exciting equestrian project in the pipeline for the county.
The Irish National Stud is also collaborating with Fáilte Ireland to launch a new €3.2 million racehorse simulation attraction at The Irish National Stud.
The Irish Racehorse Experience will be the first of its kind in Ireland, offering visitors to Kildare an indoor experience that celebrates Ireland’s horse-racing heritage.
Central to the attraction will be an immersive experience taking visitors through what it is like to train and race a thoroughbred from foal to finish.
Visitors will also have the opportunity to ‘race’ their horse through state-of-art simulation technology, which has never been used in Ireland before.
The IRE will open in Spring 2021.
Support from LEO Kildare
In her role as head of enterprise at Local Enterprise Office (LEO) Kildare, Jacqui McNabb’s priority is to do everything she can to help home-grown businesses in the county start up and scale successfully.
“More people are choosing Kildare as a location for a new business and the area is increasingly being recognised as a natural home for businesses in technology, food, equine, green and service-based industries,” McNabb said.
“Our role at LEO Kildare is to provide a supportive backdrop to fast-growing companies; one that is both dynamic and responsive.
Extract from Business Post 7th December 2020.