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Boston Coworking Giant to Anchor €1B Trinity College Docklands Innovation Plan

Big names, lots of big words and big hopes accompanied the announcement of a €1B Silicon Dock innovation district anchored by Trinity College.

But when will it happen, who will pay and do any firm implementation plans exist — and who will be the commercial anchor? Bisnow may have the answers.

Trinity College

A 1.2M SF innovation campus will be created at Dublin's Grand Central docks with a 5.5 acre second campus for Trinity College at its heart.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was present at an upbeat announcement by Trinity College President and Provost Patrick Prendergast and the two other university sponsors, professor Andrew Deeks from UCD and professor Brian McCraith from DCU. Varadkar spoke of the campus as part of "our vision of making Ireland the tech capital of Europe".

So much for high ambition, but how will it work? The official website is short on detail: it has just one page with a link to two glossy brochures, one on why innovation districts are a good idea, and one on why Dublin is a good place to put one.

To discover how this is meant to work, turn instead to a memorandum submitted by Trinity College to the National Planning Framework consultation in March 2017.

Pushed for time? Bisnow has read the paperwork, so you don't have to. Put the brochures and the memorandum together, and these are the four takeaways.

1. How big will this be?

Trinity envisages around 1.2M SF within 400 metres of the European HQs for Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and HubSpot among others, focused on their site adjacent to Grand Canal Quay and Macken Street.

2. The anchor tenant?

Trinity, obviously — but the 2017 memorandum adds that there will be a 130K SF "globally benchmarked ... coworking enterprise space run by Cambridge Innovation Center who are recognised as the world leaders in running innovation spaces and run comparable spaces in Kendall Square in Boston [and in] St. Louis, Philadelphia, Miami and Rotterdam."

CIC are not well known in Europe — yet. It was founded in 1999 by specialists from Boston's Massachusetts Institute of Technology with the aim of creating an international community of entrepreneurs. It first landed in Europe in 2015, signing in Rotterdam. You can read about their Dutch experience here. In March this year CIC landed in Warwsaw in a deal with HB Reavis.

Dublin makes a logical next step in the European progress of both CIC and HB Reavis, which made a $58M equity investment in CIC in March.

CIC has been home to more than 3,500 companies over the years, many of whom started in their coworking space. The average time a company spends at CIC is between two and three years, the company said.

Trinity said in November that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with CIC. Bisnow approached CIC for confirmation.

3. The timetable?

"We must act now to position Dublin and Ireland for the future," the official manifesto for the innovation district said.

However, clues on timing are at best cryptic, or perhaps not very credible. They amount to no more than a photograph of a mocked up front page of the Financial Tribune showing the headline "Ireland's new innovation district has transformed its innovation position."

The caption above the picture asks the question, "Is there any reason why in the year 2025 the international media should not be reporting ..."

This is as close to an indication of when, or even if, the plan will happen as you will find in any of the paperwork.

4. Who will pay?

All three documents are silent on funding.