Dublin

dublinA breakfast presentation on the confluence of creativity, technology and taxation, at the top of the shiny PWC building in Dublin docks – an event that could not possibly be any more emblematic of the changes to the Dublin economy since I was last there a decade ago.

The transformation of the docks is both exemplar and warning of the opportunity and perils of highly interventionist industrial and planning strategy. The city seems to now have emerged from the catastrophic collapse of the Celtic Tiger and is reportedly growing at c.5% again. The legacy of aggressive tax policies is a regenerated city hosting every major financial services institution and a significant footprint of the main Silicon Valley corporates – Google, Twitter, facebook etc.

But to return to a previous theme, always ask a taxi driver an economic question – there is a growing public concern that the lessons of the property bubble have not all been learned.

In an interesting contribution to our event the CEO of animation business Brown Bag Films talked of the dynamic of talent shortages and (for him) non existing local market which had accelerated his international expansion (to UK and US) and eventual purchase by a Canadian corporate.

And in some ways this fragility could be vulnerable to another bigger shift. If the considerable external pressure on Ireland to raise its corporation tax rate closer to other EU partners is ultimately successful, it would seriously test the rootedness of the inhabitants of the regenerated docklands.

But for now – a vibrant city with a new optimism, proactively driving a vision of the city as an innovation test bed, combining creativity and technology (and commercial incentive) together in pursuit of a new future. A great spot for a Playable City maybe?

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