Minister Damien English's visit to Creative Spark

21 Oct 2021
Niamh Gregory By Niamh Gregory

Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, Damien English TD, visited the Louth Local Enterprise Office today.

The visit to Louth is the latest in a series of nationwide visits by Minister English who is keen to meet the Local Enterprise Office teams and engage with some of their client companies.

Minister Damien English said:

"The Local Enterprise Office in Louth have worked hard with businesses across the county over the past 18 months and continued to offer exceptional services such as mentoring, training, upskilling and financial supports during the pandemic. I am grateful to Thomas McEvoy and the LEO team for helping local firms stay afloat and protect local job opportunities, and especially for their commitment in assisting businesses to make the transition to online trading.

"People have shown that by ‘Looking for Local’ a big impact can be made on communities through supporting our local businesses. Consumers can enjoy first class products, services, and experiences on their doorstep in Louth, and by supporting ‘Look for Local’, they will help ensure positive economic, environmental and societal impacts that will benefit all in the community."

 

The day started with a trip to County Hall, Dundalk where Minister English was greeted by Chief Executive of Louth County Council, Joan Martin. It was here that Thomas McEvoy, Head of Enterprise gave the Minister a presentation on highlights of 2021 Local Enterprise Office interventions and EI engagements. It focused on digital supports, Green for Micro, Agile Innovation amongst other topics.

Minister English then travelled to Creative Spark, a centre for creativity and innovation aiming to develop the local creative industries sector. It provides space, skills, technology, structures and a platform for peer support and capacity building for creative practitioners, start-ups and entrepreneurs. Launched in 2012, it operates as a not-for-profit social enterprise supported by its funders and stakeholders and is led by Executive Director, Sarah Daly, a voluntary Board of Directors and a team of experienced professionals.

Some of the resident companies the Minister met with included Setanta Nutrition Science Ltd t/a Phytaphix. Founded by Dr Conor Kerley in 2018, Conor’s business plan won him the 2018 county and regional finals of Ireland's Best Young Entrepreneur. Conor’s business idea went from a healthy jam to food supplements to help diabetes and high blood pressure and then during COVID-19 to developing and marketing an immunity boosting product called Immune Phix and now exports to 25 countries including USA and Australia.

Another resident in Creative Spark is Architectural Spaces Ltd., founded by Grainne O’Neill, originally based in Galway and now operating out of a second office in Dundalk. The team of five designs for clients throughout Ireland and overseas across a broad range of projects including domestic homes, from new builds to extensions and renovations through to bars, restaurants, cafes, hotels and office design.

The Minister then went on to the Mill Enterprise Hub Drogheda where he was greeted by Ronan Whitty, Director of Business Innovation & Enterprise. Opening its doors to start-ups in 2014, it has since become the main Hub for the accelerated creation and growth of healthy new enterprises in the south Louth, east Meath and wider Drogheda area region. It currently houses 31 companies ranging from start-ups to emergent FDIs who currently employ 83 employees. 

It was here the Minister was given a presentation on the work the Mill has done over the years and continues to do going forward for Local Enterprise Office clients. 

After a tour of the facility, Minister English met some of the LEO supported clients that included, Less is Mor Ltd., t/a Limor, founded by former professional rugby player turned tech entrepreneur Shane Monahan. It is a new social audio platform that makes audio and podcast creation, production, distribution and monetisation easy, instant and interactive. 

Another company the Minister met was aCGT Vector DAC. A cell gene therapy company, owned and directed by Gary McAuslan. aCGT Vector has assembled a world class team of experts, using state of the art technology within a network of aCGT Vector’s PODS located in proximity to rare disease cancer patients, including in its initial site at St. James’s Hospital, Dublin.

aCGT Vector DAC are project partners in a consortium with Remedy Biologics Ltd, Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG) that was awarded €6,773,750 under call 3 of the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund in April 2021.

On conclusion of his visit today Minister English also said:

"The positive engagements today in Louth highlight the depth of talent in our SME sector in the North-East. It is a sure sign of a positive future for economic development and growth in local enterprise as the economy continues to exit the pandemic and get back to more normal trading conditions."