The former biblical centre will be home to a production and digital skills academy
THE establishment of a new production and digital skills academy in the city is the “first phase” in the creation of a digital hub in Limerick.
Following the council’s €2.25m purchase of the former biblical centre on Dominic Street – backed by State funds – an academy is to be established to feed into the raft of opportunities in the film industry that will be created by Troy Studios locating in Castletroy.
Innovate Limerick, the council’s investment arm that was crucial to getting the Troy deal over the line, is leading the way on the creation of the academy and digital hub. Innovate will itself relocate to the facility, where upskilling and training specific to the film industry will be on offer, with 20% of places to be set aside for people from regeneration areas. There will also be hot desking space for start-up businesses.
Mike Cantwell of Innovate said the academy, which is hoped to be open by December or January at the latest, is “phase one of the establishment of a more substantial digital hub in Limerick”.
“To me, this is step one of a larger project, which is, that whole quarter, we want to try and get a presence there. The Intreo offices are across the road and we are being very accessible to those people who are maybe unemployed or coming from regeneration areas,” he said.
“So the assistance will be accessible to them. But equally so, the buildings that are adjacent to the biblical centre, which we have bought, we would have an eye on those with a view to extending the whole development as a kind of digital hub.”
Mr Cantwell said the intention would be to have “an annual basis, between the various different things - Limerick for IT and ourselves - 150-200 people doing courses there”.
The objective is to have an all-Irish trained crew working at Troy by 2020 and the project is a collaborative one between the studio, the council, film industry leaders, education training bodies and third level institutions.
“The academy is a location for a number of functions; one of them will be to act as a training house,” said Mr Cantwell.
“As well as providing training, we will also be using as a sort of a soft landing spot for people looking to establish businesses and the services around that also.”
Fianna Fail councillor and Innovate board member James Collins said the development showed that the “leap of faith” in the council's special purpose vehicle was a worthwhile one with these projects coming to fruition.
“I think it is important that this city centre,” he said. “We are hoping that this will kick off more of a digital space, but also that it will have some spin off companies that would be interested in coming to Limerick. We want these kinds of people to be living in Limerick as well to regenerate the area.”