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Conference highlights Belfast as a leading creative digital hub

Belfast City Council chief executive Suzanne Wylie on Digital DNA, a major tech event taking place at St George’s Market on Tuesday and Wednesday week

The importance of our creative and digital industries to the future economic success and competitiveness of Belfast and Northern Ireland cannot be over emphasised.

Belfast's international reputation for its distinct and original creative and digital tech sector is growing rapidly. Over 20,000 people are now employed in the sector which is made up of around 1,600 businesses, accounting for 4% of the regional Gross Value Added (GVA).

Our key strengths are in the fields of film, TV, animation, digital content, gaming, immersive technology, software development and music.

Belfast City Council is committed to supporting the further growth and development of these businesses which we know like to cluster together in cities like ours.

Digital DNA plays a fundamental role in our growth plans, providing a unique platform from which to promote this growing creative digital tech sector to a national and international audience, reinforcing the city as a leading creative digital hub in the global marketplace.

Growing the economy by creating jobs and investment in the city is a key priority under the Belfast Agenda, our new 20 year strategy. In the next four years alone, we will focus on creating over 15,000 new jobs and support our businesses to grow and export and of course there will be a significant focus on the knowledge economy.

We are fortunate to have a young population, a highly skilled workforce and a plethora of creative SMEs making their mark in the global media industry.

Whether it be the creation of ground-breaking children's television programming or state-of-the-art virtual and augmented reality, Belfast is home to a new breed of creative entrepreneurs.

This wealth of talent runs across the film, animation, music, mobile, gaming, and TV sub-sectors. There is a diverse and easily accessible supply chain for the creative and digital industry across Northern Ireland.

We have a dynamic and growing software and ICT sector powered by global brands such as Citi and Allstate and supported by a vibrant home-grown business base.

This has helped Belfast become the second fastest-growing knowledge economy in the UK and one of the fastest growing in Europe.

Technology and innovation play a major role in terms of economic development in Northern Ireland. Foreign direct investment (FDI), particularly in ICT and fintech, has been a real success story for the urban area and is one we want to see continue.

We pride ourselves on being future-focused and outward-looking and being at the forefront of new digital technology. Currently we are hailed as leaders in cyber security and are the fourth-fastest growing creative digital cluster in the UK.

This growth is also being fuelled by more local investments in virtual reality and artificial intelligence.

Whether it be through our work with new business start-ups in the city or ensuring we have the appropriate infrastructure in place to attract FDI, it is important for us as a city council, to enable as many as possible embrace innovation and exploit the opportunities technology and access to it can provide.

We can rightfully be proud to be recognised as tech-based city. However technology and its application not only has the power to boost the economy but also to transform the lives of our citizens.

We at the council and Digital DNA are committed to supporting business to deliver on both of these outcomes using local and international expertise which challenge us all to think differently and transform our futures.

Suzanne Wylie is chief executive of Belfast City Council, a partner in next week's Digital DNA event

 

Join thousands of delegates at Digital DNA

Digital DNA, which takes place on June 6 and 7 at Belfast's St George's Market, will inform delegates across the five key themes of Marketing, Data, Security, Fintech and Innovation.

As digital technology disrupts businesses and organisations from every sector, the event will help find the solutions and tactics to increase efficiency and grow your organisation.

Digital experts from organisations including Google, Twitter, YouTube, Adobe, Motorola and Microsoft will give their insights into cutting-edge technology and digital trends as

Belfast plays host to over 2,000 delegates from over 25 countries.

You can get your pass for Digital DNA by visiting www.digitaldna.org.uk.

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