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At long last we’re witnessing how digital hubs should have been developed from day one as a Skibbereen software initiative announces a target of 500 new jobs over the next five years. Dublin has claimed the lion’s share of digital initiatives and this in part is due to the lack of understanding at government level of how important it is to propagate digital initiatives across the island.

The Ludgate@Skibbereen initiative as it is branded will be located in a refurbished bakery building and is on course to be ready for tenants in November 2015. The building is to be renamed the The Ludgate Hub and is interestingly named after an Irish accountant Percy Ludgate who designed the world’s first portable computer all of 108 years ago in 1907.

The building was donated to the Ludgate@Skibbereen initiative by local businessman John Field. John’s name may not be readily identifiable but any visitor to Skibbereen that has visited the Supervalu store will have marvelled at its range of fresh products and excellent customer service. John has managed this business for over 40 years and is renowned the length and breadth of the country for his retail excellence. John is to be commended on his contribution to the local business community in Skibbereen and his latest deal with the Ludgate@Skibbereen initiative may be one of his smartest to date.

The Ludgate@Skibberee initiative has managed to assemble a heavy hitter list of business and artistic types to lend some media and business friendly kudos. Check it out – Kevin Buckley: Co-Founder & CEO, Spearline Labs, Leonard Donnelly: Technology Entrepreneur, Oliver Farrell: Co-Founder & Chairman, Vilicom, John Field: JJ. Field & Co, Dee Forbes, President of Discovery Networks, Northern Europe, Lord David Puttnam, Award winning film producer and Digital Champion for Ireland, Sean O’Driscoll: Chairman & CEO, Glen Dimplex Group, Anne O’Leary: CEO Vodafone, Ireland, Adam Walsh: General Manager at JJ. Field & Co.

Ireland is ideally poised to create any number of digital hubs. Skibbereen, as a prime example, offers Irish people abroad the incentive to return and set up their digital software businesses here and it also offers our European neighbours the opportunity to come, work and live in what is regarded as the most beautiful of rural towns. Working and living in Skibbereen can be done at a lower cost than Dublin and this lower economic cost should prove very attractive.

As it happens, Skibbereen is also located on the Wild Atlantic Way, the longest coastal route in the world at some 2,500km. Excuse the pun but the ingredients are there and Skibbereen has set about baking the first batch of future digital entrepreneurs in what was an old bakery.

Skibbereen has lots going for it but so do all the other towns dotted along the Wild Atlantic Way. Irish towns are peppered with historic old buildings crying out for the Skibbereen digital makeover.

It’s up to you. Start compiling your own list of heavy hitter and artistic types and get your digital software initiative off the ground.

‘Skibb’ is up and running, now it’s your go.


Marc O'Dwyer

After completing a Graduate program in Marketing, Marc’s impressive sales career began at Allied Irish Banks, Pitney Bowes and Panasonic where he received numerous Irish and European sales performance awards and consistently exceeded targets and expectations. In 1992, Marc’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to set up his own business, Irish International Sales (IIS). Initially, this company was a reseller for Take 5 Accounts and Payroll software. Within four years, IIS became the largest reseller of Take 5 in Ireland, acquiring four other Take 5 resellers. He also found time to set up two mobile phone shops under the Cellular World brand and a web design company offering website design services for small businesses. In 2001, he bought the majority share in a small Irish software business, Big Red Book. At that time, the company was losing money. The company became profitable within two months, and Marc then acquired a payroll company to compliment Big Red Books Accounting products. In 2003, IIS were appointed as Channel Partners with SAP for their new SME product, SAP Business One. Marc sold his Take 5 business and concentrated on developing this new market for SAP As a result, by 2007, IIS was recognised as the largest Channel Partner for SAP in EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa). In 2008, the IIS Sales Manager bought the Company from Marc in an MBO. He launched Big red cloud in June 2012, the online version of big red book, to date the company successfully converts 59% of trials into sales and the number of customers is growing rapidly. Marc continues to run both Big Red Book and Big Red Cloud which now support 75,000 businesses. He is a very keen sportsman, having played rugby for 20 years, represented Leinster at under 16 and under 20 levels, and league squash with Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club for 10 years. Marc has competed in 11 Marathons, including the London and Boston Marathons, and has completed several Triathlons and Half Ironman races. He has also completed six Ironman Races in Austria(x2), Frankfurt (Germany), Nice (France) , Mallorca (Spain) and Copenhagen (Denmark)

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