Business & Life in Donegal

Excellent quality of life, affordable living, rich culture and access to a dynamic, international ecosystem for entrepreneurs, makes Donegal a great place to live and work.

Hub for tech & science companies
100’s of beautiful sandy beaches
Highly educated workforce

A hub for tech

Donegal is now recognised as a hub for tech, R&D and innovation. At Colab alone there are 50 companies who are developing new tech products and exporting as far away as Japan, US and Australia. They have chosen to locate here because they have all the facilities and supports available in major cities but without the hassle of congested traffic, high costs, less time and a frantic environment. Many believe they have benefited from a more dedicated, personalised experience of support here, which has generated greater opportunities for success. In the last 20 years multinationals Pramerica, Optum and Zeus have chosen to invest in Donegal, employing over 3,000 people and servicing clients all over the world. Voted Europe’s most Business Friendly region in 2016 by Forbes, there is a dynamic business community in retail, manufacturing, food and tourism in the Northwest. Donegal is connected for business, locally, nationally and internationally.

Business in Donegal

From high-tech multinationals to innovator start-ups, Donegal is a fantastic location for businesses of all sizes and sectors. Whether you want to develop a technology idea or are already established, you’ll find everything you need to go to the next stage.

You can expect all the modern facilities and resources you would get anywhere in Ireland, with lots more advantages.  There is an established support network for tech entrepreneurs designed to commercialize and develop ideas internationally. Being surrounded by experienced business owners, inspirational innovators, researchers, and potential investors, makes CoLab an environment of opportunity. A community you are automatically connected to. There are numerous entrepreneurial networks and supports for start-ups, technology, and inventor businesses in the North West. Including: European and cross border networks, Chambers of Commerce, Donegal Small business networks, International tech alliances and Donegal Women in Business. The Letterkenny Institute of Technology (LYIT) has its own network of international partner institutions, cross border and Europe. The CoLab Team can help connect you to the networks that are most beneficial to you.

The Northwest is a centre of renewables and technology research with two innovative projects based at CoLab. The Bryden Centre for Advanced Marine and Bio-Energy Research is leading pioneering research studies in the use of tidal power at in Strangford Lough, the North Antrim coast, and the potential for wave and tidal power generation in Donegal. The Wireless Sensor and Applied Research Lab (WiSAR Lab) are developing innovative products and industry solutions using wireless, embedded systems and software. From remote monitoring of lobster pots to health sensory devices, WiSAR is making the future better. https://www.wisar.ie/ 

Highly motivated, well-educated people

Digital and creative technologies, business and finance and life and health sciences are all growth areas for the North West. Work life balance, quality of life and career opportunities means that Donegal has a pool of excellent talent.  This is comprised of highly qualified local graduates and professionals who have relocated. (56% of LYIT graduates employed are working in Donegal in 2018).

An ambitious investment in infrastructure, fibre broadband, research, and innovation makes Donegal a smart place to invest and live in.  It is connected digitally with fibre broadband, and physically, by road and air.  In fact Donegal is a digital suburb of major cities in the US and Canada connected to a high capacity, transatlantic cable. There are 2 airports in Donegal and Derry with regular flights to the UK and Europe. So really, you’re only ever a few hours away from major cities. 

Success Stories

From intelligent wearables to trading renewable energy, Donegal has attracted tech entrepreneurs who are changing the world

Donegal is now recognised as a hub for tech, R&D and innovation, at CoLab alone there are 50 companies who are developing new tech products and exporting as far away as Japan, US and Australia. They have chosen to locate here because they have all the facilities and supports available in major cities but without the hassle of congested traffic, high costs, less time and a frantic environment. Many believe they have benefited from a more dedicated, personalised experience of support here, which has generated greater opportunities for success.

In the last 20 years multinationals Pramerica, Optum and Zeus have chosen to invest in Donegal, employing over 3,000 people and servicing clients all over the world. Voted Europe’s most Business Friendly region in 2016 by Forbes, there is a dynamic business community in retail, manufacturing, food and tourism in the Northwest. Donegal is connected for business, locally, nationally and internationally.

Read the story of some CoLab clients

Business Funding & Supports

CoLab is connected to various local, national and international support agencies. If you need funding or support, we can help point you in the right direction.

Government economic development agencies are there to help you get your business idea off the ground. They support all kinds of businesses at various stages and can offer guidance on planning, training, markets and funding. The CoLab team will listen to your needs and help guide you to the most relevant supports and resources to drive your business, at every stage. Along the way they are always on hand to be a sounding board, offer guidance and plenty of encouragement.

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New Frontiers

New Frontiers is a national entrepreneur programme developed by Enterprise Ireland to support business startups and early stage entrepreneurs. The six week phase 1 programme and 6 month phase 2 programme have been the starting point for many of CoLab’s clients.

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How does New Frontiers benefit entrepreneurs?

  • Training in all areas of business including financial management, market research & validation, business process, patenting, product development, sales training.
  • Mentoring from experienced business advisers and practitioners.
  • Office space and other business incubation facilities.
  • Up to €15,000 tax-free scholarship to cover your full-time participation in the course (paid to the participant, not the business).
  • Networking opportunities with other entrepreneurs and business development agencies.
  • Introductions to seed and early-stage capital investment networks.
  • Access to entrepreneurship best practice – both national and international.
  • Peer group learning from participants in the region and across the country.
  • Access to the expertise in Enterprise Ireland through our Market Research Centre.
  • Expertise from the Institutes of Technology and the supportive environment of their business incubation centres
Phase 1 = 1 day a week for 6 weeks
Receive one-to-one mentoring
Tax free, if accepted on 6 month Phase 2

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Innovation Vouchers

Innovation Vouchers were developed to build links between Higher education institutes, public research bodies and small businesses. 

The Innovation Vouchers initiative is open to all small and medium-sized limited companies registered in Ireland. Applications are not restricted to clients of Enterprise Ireland. Innovation Vouchers worth €5,000 are available to assist a company or companies to explore a business opportunity or problem with a registered knowledge provider.

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Starting a Business in Ireland

Ireland boasts one of the most educated work forces in the world. There are many advantages to starting a business in Ireland.

Ireland is strategically located with easy links to Europe, the US and the Middle East. Membership of the EU and Eurozone provides direct access to international markets. Locating in Ireland offers a way to continue to access the EU whilst remaining close to the UK, regardless of what tariffs Brexit brings.

Traditionally ranked high in ‘doing’ business’ rankings, Ireland is a stable environment, which is very supportive of entrepreneurs. Start-ups have access to an extensive range of start-up support programmes and funding.  World-class companies and research centers in sectors such as ICT, life sciences, financial services and food & beverages have chosen to locate in Ireland. This gives start-ups easy access to quality people, experienced entrepreneurs, investors, suppliers, research institutes and other support services with deep expertise in these sectors.

Ireland is an ideal location to live and work with great opportunities for business and a family-friendly environment and boasts one of the most educated workforces in the world. Starting a business in Ireland is relatively simple and can be done via the https://www.cro.ie/Registration/Overview  

Contact the CoLab team to discuss your plans.

Life, Family & Culture in Donegal

Voted the coolest place on the planet by National Geographic 2016, people who work and live in Donegal benefit from the natural beauty of the county and the warm down to earth nature of its people.

Work Life Balance

You could be at the beach in 40 minutes after a day in the office, sound idyllic? There’s no doubt that Donegal offers an opportunity for work life balance because of lower cost of living, affordable housing and beautiful surroundings. However, it is the welcoming and friendly spirit of the people that makes living in Donegal truly special.  Community is important in here, people have time to listen and chat. There are lots of local activities, such as, festivals, park runs, and farmers markets, which you and your family can get involved in. There is a vibrant sporting scene, GAA, football, rugby, surfing and outdoor adventure sports. Donegal is renowned for its rich cultural heritage of music, theatre, Gaelige and the arts with many international renowned festivals taking place each year, including the Earagail Arts Festival. In short, Donegal has all the amenities that are available in a city, such as, shopping with high street brands, cinema, leisure centres, outdoor activity centres, award winning restaurants, theatres. We guarantee you won’t miss a thing.

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Education & Schools

From pre-school to post-grad, Donegal has a vast range of educational opportunities for all ages

There are excellent primary and secondary schools in Donegal including Gaelscoils and Educate Together. There are award winning preschool crèches and Montessori schools. At third level, The Letterkenny Institute of Technology is consistently ranked highly in the Sunday Times Universities list and provides a wide choice of courses. If you wish to continue to study, LYIT has acclaimed postgraduate courses in Computing, Marketing, Business and Innovation, as well as a wide breadth of short courses in business, social media etc.

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