After initially hitting a roadblock, one of Ireland's largest startup hubs is expanding

The €6.5 million development will increase NovaUCD’s capacity by more than 50%.

By Killian Woods Reporter, Fora

ONE OF THE biggest startup hubs in the country has announced a multimillion-euro plan to significantly expand its south Dublin-based facility.

NovaUCD, located on the grounds of University College Dublin, runs startup programmes that aim to create spin-out companies using research conducted on campus.

Its operations are based out of Merville House, an 18th century building, which contains office space, research labs and meeting rooms.

Last year, NovaUCD applied for planning permission to add and renovate a string of facilities at the site.

But the plans to expand the facility hit an inital roadblock when the local council refused its application to build at the location.

At the time, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council said the proposed development was on land that is protected from any development activity due to the Dublin eastern bypass corridor motorway scheme.

However, a second planning application was approved by the council subject to the planned car park – which would be built close to lands for the proposed motorway scheme – being reduced in size.

The startup hub currently has 1,425 sq m of space in a total of 40 units, labs and co-working spaces. NovaUCD has plans to add to this space by renovating the building’s eastern courtyard.

In its application to the council, NovaUCD said the east wing of the building is currently in a “state of significant disrepair and disuse”.

The redeveloped areas would result add an additional 800 sq m of space that would be used for 23 business units, new labs and co-working spaces. The current internal courtyard area will also be designed as a new meeting and social space for resident companies.

NovaUCD view elevation front
Source: NovaUCD

According to NovaUCD, works on the €6.5 million project have already commenced and the development is expected to be completed within 12 months.

UCD director of enterprise and commercialisation Tom Flanagan said the expansion will allow the hub to up its capacity by more than 50% and upon completion NovaUCD will be able to house up to 450 people.

“The NovaUCD facility has been running at full capacity for several years now. There is an ongoing and significant demand from ambitious entrepreneurs who want to locate their startups at NovaUCD,” said Flanagan.

Millions in funding

NovaUCD currently houses over 25 startups and since it was opened in 2003, the hub has housed 225 companies which have raised over €200 million in funding.

Some notable alumni of the incubation space include equine genetics firm Plusvital,  fintech company Rubicoin and sound therapy startup Restored Hearing.

The current crop of early-stage companies include health startups Carrick Therapeutics, Oncomark and Theya Healthcare.

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