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Entrepreneurs to get best possible start as historic Shannon building gets new ‘Gateway Hub’

Minister Pat Breen launches new facility in Gateway West

A building with one of Ireland’s most storied entrepreneurial histories will be the inspirational home for the country’s newest incubation hub unveiled today by Minister of State Pat Breen.

The Gateway Hub at Shannon Airport House was today officially launched by the Minister for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection with a plan to become a major start-up centre for business in the Mid-West region.

The 6,000 sq ft enterprise space will be located in what is the original home of Ryanair founder the late Dr. Tony Ryan’s Guinness Peat Aviation business – the world’s largest commercial aircraft lessor in the 1980s.

Today’s launch event was the first official opening of a facility at the newly branded Gateway West section of the Shannon Free Zone, which is undergoing a €25 million phase one redevelopment that will transform this section of the world’s first free trade zone with a range of cutting edge refurbs and new builds. The Shannon Free Zone is home to over 150 companies employing over 7,500 people.

The Gateway Hub will transform the ground floor of Airport House – recently renovated at a cost of €1 million – into an enterprise/incubation space for start-up businesses from different sectors. Some 17 serviced offices and ‘hot-desks’ will be available at the centre, which will also include a networking space and shared conference, meeting/training rooms with a reception/business support resource.

It will also have a link to the building’s proud origins in that it will house the first round of Propeller Shannon start-up programme companies. The programme is a partnership between the DCU Ryan Academy - a not-for-profit partnership between Dublin City University and the family of the late Dr Ryan - Shannon Group’s International Aviation Services Centre (IASC), Boeing, and Datalex and supported by Enterprise Ireland.

It aims to drive the development of innovative Irish and international start-up companies in the aviation sector by tapping into the unique aerospace ecosystem for entrepreneurs that have seen 50 companies employ 2,500 people in Shannon Free Zone.

Speaking at today’s launch, Minister Breen said that these businesses, together with companies from other sectors, have the perfect environment to develop into internationally trading operations. He added “The work that Shannon Group, and its property company Shannon Commercial Properties, have done in regenerating the Shannon Free Zone for future entrepreneurs and FDI companies is to be commended.

The Gateway Hub is another strong statement of the ambition and confidence that they, and all the partners involved in the Propeller Shannon programme, have for the region and for the companies who will use this space. The facility will allow them to thrive and hopefully expand their operation at Shannon Free Zone in the future.”

Said Shannon Group CEO Matthew Thomas: “We have an incredible legacy of innovation across the Shannon Free Zone and the best way to celebrate this is to ensure we continue to grow businesses into the future. That will happen through existing and new FDI and indigenous company growth but it also will happen through a start-up culture we are fostering here in the Free Zone. Our intention is that the Gateway Hub and the businesses that will operate from there will go on to have a very significant footprint in Shannon Free Zone in the years ahead.”

Said Shannon Commercial Properties CEO Ray O’Driscoll: “This is a significant moment for us in our redevelopment of the Shannon Free Zone. We are just over two years into the first phase of the programme and have completed a huge amount of work, mostly for large multi-national and indigenous employers. However, this is a very important project to us as the Gateway Hub is all about nurturing businesses from start-up through to growth phase and hopefully to build long term sustainable businesses in the Mid-West.”