Silicon Valley gets some northern exposure

2 Mar 2009

Senior executives from major Silicon Valley firms such as Archos, Palm, Microsoft, Nokia and Adobe are to descend on Derry later this month to give 2,000 workers from local SMEs a taste of the creative entrepreneurial flair demanded of the global technology business.

The Awaken Creative Entrepreneurship (ACE) UnConference on 25–27 March has been funded through the Arts Councils’ Creative Industries Innovation Fund.

The delegate-driven UnConference will see senior figures from the world’s leading IT and communications companies visit the country to share their own vantage points and insights, and highlight trends and possibilities.

Participating companies include Palm, Adobe, Powerscourt, Deutsche Bank, Nokia, Archos, Microsoft and DemonWare, amongst others.

The UnConference will encourage local entrepreneurs to instil re-invention and creativity into their businesses and practices by enabling them to access global expertise within an open innovation environment.

From the newly refurbished Playhouse to Verbal Arts Centre, Millennium Forum, North West Regional College and Nerve Centre, the key industry event will take place in some of the most exciting creative centres of excellence in the historic city of Derry.

It will provide an opportunity to showcase the talent of local creative industries through peer-to-peer expertise sharing, learning summits, creative start-up platforms, networking, hands-on creativity innovation boot camps and demonstration labs, all underpinned with world-class panels setting topics for discussion.

An estimated 2,000 people are expected to participate in the three-day UnConference including primary venue attendees and also online audiences via a satellite centre, real-time simulcast in Second Life and a web-conference portal.

“ACE UnConference will skill up our indigenous SMEs, get them thinking differently, and introduce them to new tools, techniques and basically new ways of working,” explained Tim Kelley, senior business consultant at NORIBIC, the managing agent of ACE UnConference.

“Business opportunities will not only be developed at the venues, but also across a wider group of remote and international audiences who will participate through streams or view on-demand recordings.”

Arts Council of Northern Ireland chief executive Roisín McDonough explained why the event will be a major boost for the creative industries in Northern Ireland.

“Providing this type of support to artists and creative businesspeople so they can develop and sustain a flourishing creative industries sector is a key theme in the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s five-year plan.”

Day one of the ACE UnConference will feature big-name speakers who will set the scene for the UnConference.

Day two is participant driven, with the agenda decided at the event, and day three will skill up people in the local industry, with workshops ranging from podcasting to web design and much more.

For more information, go to or email

By John Kennedy

Pictured (l-r): Greg Marrs, Creative Industries development officer; Tim Kelley, senior consultant, NORIBIC; Dr Barney Toal, chief executive of NORIBIC; and David McConnell, Creative Industries development officer