Friday, 31 May 2013

NI Tech Scene seeds, growing into a Digital Community



Sometimes it is hard not to focus a lot on the Republic of Ireland when it comes to the Irish Tech scene, but more recently we have seen a push by Belfast and Northern Ireland to really remind people just how great it is as a location for starting tech companies and having the benefit of being both a part of the 'Island of Ireland' and being a part of the UK economy.

We are not just talking about inward investment by American companies like the announcement yesterday by Vello Systems of 71 jobs in NI, but homegrown projects and programmes that are really gaining ground and building a Digital Community across Northern Ireland.

There are a number of people and organisations to be thankful for in Northern Ireland, Matt Johnson, the NI Digital Champion, (Digital Circle) who has been pushing the creative industries, developing programmes, promoting events, and basically cheer leading NI as a great location for starting a 'startup' and using the existing base of great creative companies to work with.

Another is the Northern Ireland Screen organisation which helps promote NI Film in all its varied forms, from Animation to TV Graphics. With the Titanic Paint Hall studios also based in Belfast and a booming Animation Department at Ulster University, we can see a complete industry often overlooked by mainstream media.

The recent CultureTech Festival in L/Derry also shows creative industires and tech coming together. Mark Nagurski, Festival organiser got InvestNI to support the festival with funding for Workshops and Seminars.

NI also has its own incubator programmes, PropelNI, and the HubNI offer investment , development and a location for startups to meet, mingle and hot desk. There is also Mobile Monday to help Belfast and NI's burgeoning mobile app maker and developer community

Belfast also have recently hosted TEDXBelfast at Stormont and the is CoderDojo Belfast at the Met in Titanic Docks.

With Belfast based companies and organisations, like Speechstorm (Helping organisations of all sizes make everyday tasks easier for their customers using IVR, speech and moblie applications). RumbleLabs, (Rumble Labs is a Web Software & Experience Design laboratory in Belfast) and FarsetLabs (Farset Labs is a hackerspace that provides a place for creativity and technological tinkering), we can see a vibrant Digital community being developed.

All in all you can see an amazing ecosystem, from Belfast to L/Derry and across NI, we see proactive individuals pushing forward with there vision of a new Digital NI.