Trinity College downsizes €1bn tech-friendly innovation campus due to lack of government support


Trinity College is “scaling back” its ambitious €1 billion plan for a 5.5-acre tech-friendly innovation campus in the city centre.

University officials no longer believe the college will get the $150 million in government funding it was hoping for, leaving a hole in the project’s finances.

Last year, the college accepted a €30 million donation from Jones Engineering Group chairman Eric Kinsella and his wife, Barbara, to fund a research center on the proposed new campus. In 2018, Glen Dimplex’s billionaire founder, Martin Naughton, donated €25 million to the same campus project.

But the university’s vice-chancellor, Orla Shiels, recently told the TCD student newspaper’s University Times that “the expected large government cash injection is not to be expected. So the project has to be scaled back in the short term… It will not be the expansive large capital project that was hoped for. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen. That’s just not going to happen now.”

A spokesman for Trinity College told the Irish Independent that the university “will begin a strategic assessment of what can be done in the current climate. After that we will know more.”

However, the spokesman added that the college had completed a successful “pre-development phase” of the project. “Trinity now has a fully constructed site for the development of a future campus,” he said.

TCD’s plans had received support from tech multinationals in the region, including Google and Facebook.

Destined for the Grand Canal end of Pearse Street, the campus aims to replicate the business-friendly campuses of California, London and Paris by locating research institutions, start-ups and international companies in close proximity.

The Trinity East campus would be funded through a mixture of industry, philanthropy and college borrowing. TCD has already launched a long-term €400m fundraising plan, the largest Irish philanthropic effort of all time.

The so-called “Grand Canal Innovation District” was to be developed over a 10-year period, with a new “innovation hub” opening this year for start-up companies, researchers and the local community.

In the long term, the university hoped that it would accommodate academic researchers from multiple universities, international companies and venture capitalists, with engineering, computer science and natural sciences taking the lead through research programs at PhD and masters levels.

Successive TCD Provosts have called it a symbol of the institution’s future, claiming that it would greatly enhance Dublin’s standing in research and industry circles. A 2019 economic cost-benefit analysis by consulting firm Indecon found that the completed project could bring economic benefits of €3.2 billion to the city. Trinity College downsizes €1bn tech-friendly innovation campus due to lack of government support

Fry Electronics Team

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