Northern Ireland is following the lead of the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference held each year in Austin, Texas, as Derry will be the setting for CultureTECH at the end of the month to celebrate all things digital, from gaming to music, TV and animation, as well as emerging start-ups.
Thirty of Northern Ireland’s start-ups from across TV, gaming, music technology and mobile and web applications have already been accepted to debut their wares at the digital technology four-day event that will be kicking off in Derry on 29 August.
Music and gaming are all set to feature highly at the event, which will run until 1 September.
According to festival organiser Mark Nagurski, more than 70 leading industry speakers from the UK, Europe and North America will be at CultureTECH. And there will also be investors at the festival to check out the start-ups.
He said the new event is aiming to show off homegrown talent for young companies to launch or demo new products and services.
"We have shortlisted six start-ups to pitch at the Seed Comp competition. They will be demoing to a panel that will include potential investors. The winner of Seed Comp will get stg£5,000 to develop their venture."
Plus, he said these six start-ups will also pitch to the keynote audience who will decide which start-up gets their vote. And the winner of that process will also glean stg£5,000.
Nicholas Roger Kenyon, the music administrator, editor and writer on music, who will be a keynote speaker at CultureTECH. He has been director of the Barbican Centre in London since 2007. The Barbican is one of the largest performing arts venues in Europe. It’s home to the BBC Symphony Orchestra and London Symphony Orchestra
Tech scene in Northern Ireland
Invest Northern Ireland (NI) is also supporting the festival. The agency’s director of business services Brian Dolaghan said that over the past few years there has been a plethora of new start-ups coming through in areas like gaming and web apps.
He said that Invest NI has long been committed to helping showcase companies like these through its involvement in overseas events like SXSW, adding that it make sense to host a similar event in Northern Ireland.
And there’s still time for start-ups in the digital or media space to apply to showcase at CultureTECH. Nagurski said that while the organisers expect most of the start-ups to hail from Northern Ireland, other digital start-ups from around the island of Ireland can also apply to demo at CultureTECH.
He said that in terms of the start-ups that have already applied to attend, emerging music technology ventures from Northern Ireland are featuring highly.
"We urge anyone in the digital or media sectors with a new project to promote to put themselves forward. Even just attending the event will be a tremendous opportunity to learn from and network with a truly impressive line-up of speakers," added Dolaghan.
Singer Duke Special, who will be one of the acts performing at CultureTECH
And for gamers, there will be a games tournament during CultureTECH. Plus, there will be a live games arcade for people to play free games that have been purely developed in Northern Ireland. Nagurski said this event will take place in the Foyleside Shopping Centre in Derry, with interactive screens for people to get stuck into gaming.