Skibbereen’s business hub ‘Ludgate’ claimed the coveted ‘Business Hub of the Year’ award at the Digital Business Ireland Awards in February. Digital hubs such as the Ludgate in Skibbereen, which boasts a gigabite broadband connection and has been a magnet for startups, have an important role to play in the future of flexible working in Ireland. Ludgate has been recognised as an ‘exemplar project’ by the European Commission.
Gavin Jeffery, Business Development Manager
Gavin Jeffery joined Ludgate as Business Development Manager in November 2021. With rural regeneration and bringing economic activity to the region the main focus of his role, he puts a lot of work into organising events, networking, community projects and developing mutually beneficial partnerships.
“A key area of focus for me has been highlighting quality employment opportunities so people can live, work and participate locally,” he shares. “We’ve identified huge potential in the area of remote working and have set up a network called Grow Remote West Cork to create awareness around the employment opportunities in remote working. We have also created a jobs page on the Ludgate website where thousands of these remote working jobs are advertised.”
A real sociable person, Gavin enjoys meeting people and developing new business relationships while nurturing existing ones.
He brings a strong commercial focus to the role with a Commerce degree from UCC and 20 years experience in the cut throat motor trade industry!
With his initial contract at Ludgate for 18 months, his intention is to be able to look back and be proud off what he has achieved in this multi-faceted role during that time.
Originally from Cork city, Gavin moved with his family to West Cork in March 2020 for what was originally planned to be a two-week stay.
“We never went back!” he says. “We could see our children were thriving with the extra space to run around. My wife and I love the outdoor lifestyle and it soon became a no-brainer to make the move west a permanent one.”
Gavin and family have really enjoyed becoming part of the close-knit community in Schull. “We’ve integrated well, made easy by the welcoming people of Schull that we can now call friends.”
Gavin is an active volunteer in the Schull Coast Guard and a member of the Schull Triathlon Club.
Fiona Ryan, Start Up
and Entrepreneurship Manager
Fiona Ryan started part-time with Ludgate in 2020 overseeing the funding programme prior to commencing a full-time position as Start Up and Entrepreneurship Manager in September 2021. Her role involves ensuring there are high value jobs on the foot of the acceleration in start-up growth. “This means supporting solo entrepreneurs through their ideation phase, launch and growth,” she explains.
Fiona is tasked with the development of a supportive ecosystem, which comprises of free marketing support, strategy development, funding resources, profile building, skills development and more.
She has developed and launched the Propeller series, a series of informative workshops aimed at entrepreneurs across a wide range of topics to encourage networking and knowledge awareness.
The Ludgate enterprise map was launched in January 2022 showcasing the incredible businesses and industry sectors within the West Cork region. This allows those businesses to avail of marketing through the Ludgate site and encourages other businesses to come forward and be showcased here.
Fiona brings a passion for entrepreneurship and West Cork and an unparalleled drive to succeed and implement meaningful programmes to this role.
“Nothing gives me greater joy than working with people who are bursting with enthusiasm to translate their idea into a business,” she shares. “I will take the time to ensure that they can do so with the Ludgate team behind them.”
Her ultimate goal is to create a unique and sustainable supportive environment for West Cork start-ups to grow in. “That goal will be supported by the numbers of businesses which have been attracted to Ludgate during my tenure and the growth that they have experienced as a result of operating within this collaborative work environment.”
Ludgate has developed a range of supports for start-ups, from marketing, sales and funding to business plan and strategy development.
“Connections matter when an entrepreneur is starting on their journey and half the battle can be identifying where to turn for support in various areas,” says Fiona. “We can help with those connections and signposting the various state agency supports through LEO and EI. Our panel of mentors will facilitate 1:1 advisory sessions and our propeller event series encourages skills and knowledge development.”
This year Ludgate will launch the Start Up Academy and cluster enablement for food-related entrepreneurs. “Ludgate will help to grow your business profile through inclusion on the enterprise map and member spotlight series,” explains Fiona.
The launch of the West Cork Food Cluster will encompass a portfolio of projects ranging from networking to skills development, cluster visibility, internationalisation, R&D and finance.
A Tipperary native married to a Castlehaven man, Fiona moved from Dublin to West Cork with her family over five years ago. The couple has three young boys.
“No traffic congestion, more valuable time with family, smaller class sizes and supportive communities make West Cork living a dream come true for us,” she says.
If you are a start-up or entrepreneur, Fiona would love to hear from you. Email firstname.lastname@example.org