An M1 ‘Digital Payments Cluster’ is a key part of the recently published NorthEast Action Plan for Jobs which proposes the creation of a ‘digital payments hub’ in Drogheda, and along the M1 economic corridor with the potential to create hundreds of sustainable new jobs.
The Minister for Business and Employment Ged Nash TD launched the new Action Plan for Jobs for the North East/North West on November 30th, which aims to increase employment by 10-15%, resulting in 28,000 more jobs in the Border region by 2020.
According to the government’s IFS Strategy 2020, 35% of existing Financial Services jobs in Ireland are already based outside of Dublin. The creation of a new Payments Hub is a key action of the IFS Strategy document.
Launching the Action Plan for Jobs for the North East / North West at the new Boann Distillery in Drogheda, Minister Nash said, “We need to build on the recovery and the turnaround in economic fortunes to ensure there is further jobs growth and opportunities across County Louth. I believe the Digital Payments Cluster concept along the M1 Corridor, building on the success of Fintech companies such as Yapstone and Statestreet in Drogheda, PayPal, eBay and Vesta in Dundalk offers a critical mass of companies with the potential not just to scale and grow, but also to act as a magnet to other indigenous and FDI companies. The fact that the Mill is also expanding by building phase two of the enterprise centre with funding I secured means that more startup companies in this field will have a supportive home to start and scale their business.”
Within the North East and M1 Corridor, companies have access to the skills and expertise within the HEI sector to include Dundalk Institute of Technology as well as DCU through the strategic alliance between the two HEIs. Given the region’s proximity to the border, major opportunities also exist to facilitate and significantly support the development of the digital payments cluster by deepening and widening this supply chain across the M1 Corridor. The Mill (Drogheda Enterprise Centre Limited) and DkIT are proposing to undertake an action/business plan for this cluster with the following remit:
- To identify the best way in which the region can support the emergence of a digital payments cluster.
- To outline the range of enterprise development and R&D programmes to support the cluster’s development and to identify how these will be resourced to best support the development of the cluster.
- To explore national and international marketing initiatives for the development of the cluster, and to market the cluster.
- To develop a business/implementation plan for the realisation of the project.
According to Breanndán Casey, BDM of The Mill Enterprise Hub, “The cluster presence of a number of Payments service companies within the North-East region was identified as a strength at a recent Stakeholder meeting on the Regional Action Plan. Our recent Payments Conference was a great success, and gave both large and small payment firms an opportunity to network, reflect on the state of the Payments industry on a national perspective, and hear the latest thoughts from leading innovators in the fast-growing sector. The Conference was completely sold out, and included two panels of companies from across Ireland, and international payments expert, David Birch. Additional contributors include Bynk, VESTA, Frontline VC, DKIT, Currency Fair, Aphix Software, DCU, Abarta Consulting, and the IDA. The Mill is working with industry players on the M1 Corridor, and with DKIT and DCU to develop the proposed M1 Payments Corridor, which would link the IFS with Belfast via Dublin airport, Drogheda and Dundalk. ”
The Action Plan also includes examining the establishment of a Business Innovation centre in Louth. Minister Nash continued “I also strongly support the idea of establishing a Business and Innovation Centre in the county in order to meet the target of increasing startups in the county by 25%. But, it is not just about increasing the number of new businesses and entrepreneurs – it is about ensuring that they survive and thrive and the track record of BICs in other parts of the country shows that assisted companies have a survival rate of more than 75%.”
Other key targets in the plan specifically aimed at Drogheda and the wider Co. Louth area include:
- IDA and Enterprise Ireland will work with industry, The Mill in Drogheda and DkIT and DCU to develop a Digital Payments Cluster in the area
- Explore the potential to establish a new regional Business and Innovation Centre in Drogheda
- IDA will continue to market the IDA Business & Technology Park in Drogheda in order to enhance the attractiveness of the area for foreign direct investment (FDI)
- Win 30-40% more Foreign Direct Investment for the region
- Build on the Ireland’s Ancient East brand, including positioning Drogheda as the Gateway to the Boyne Valley, to grow tourism employment by 25% by 2025
- Increase the number of startups in County Louth by 25%