Cork gets tech boost from €200m data centre site

Brid-Aine Parnell

Monday 1 August 2016

A new tech campus of state-of-the-art data centres should boost the local economy and underpin investment in cloud-based technologies, financial services and the digital sector.

Over €200m will be invested in the new site, which will be powered by a 60MW electrical grid connection that’s due for delivery at a nearby substation in 2017. This will be supported by the fast connection offered by the new Hibernia Network cable, which gives Cork the lowest latency in the EU to the east coast of the US.

Ireland has seen major investment in the technology sector in recent years, with large-scale data centres by Microsoft, Google and Amazon in Dublin involving billions of euros of investment. Apple and Facebook are also planning new hyper scale data centres in Galway and Meath.

Giving the community a boost

Data centres don’t just boost the economy in terms of energy bills. In the short term, Cork will see the creation of construction jobs – as building work on the new campus commences – and 150 new employment opportunities focused around supporting the data centres. The city also hopes to see a growth in a number of digital sectors.

“We are delighted that this key piece of catalytic infrastructure [the Hibernia Network cable] has enabled planned developments such as this, which will add a vital new resource to our already strong enterprise base while also opening the region up to new sectors operating in cloud-based technologies,” says Conor Healy, chief executive of Cork Chamber of Commerce.

“Cork’s infrastructure will be significantly enhanced as a result of this planned development and will position this region in particular to grow the information and communication technology (ICT), financial services and digital sectors for years to come.”

Data centres are already proven to have a strong economic impact. In August 2014, Facebook and RTI released a report on the benefits of its super data centre in Forest City, North Carolina, USA. The company estimated that over three years of operation, the data centre had generated $707m in output and 5,000 jobs across the state.

As well as direct spending on the data centre and the associated taxes that go into the local economy, the presence of sites like these tend to boost the IT sector. In the UK, which currently dominates the European data centre market with 224 sites, TechUK says in a report, What have data centres ever done for us?, that data should be regarded as one of the key utilities of the 21st century, along with energy and water.

“[Data centres] are rapidly becoming the only physical entities that anchor the digital economy to a geographical location and are the engine rooms of the knowledge economy,” according to the technology organisation.

“In the same way that governments prioritise the efficiency and security of their energy supply and distribution, they must recognise in data centres a key technology, resource and skill set that should be retained within national and economic borders. All high-tech manufacturing and knowledge economies are dependent upon ICT and on data centres in particular.”

With data centres popping up all over Ireland, the country can continue to feed its growing ICT industry and expand it outside of capital city Dublin to new tech hubs in cities such as Cork.

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