Texas trade mission is music to ears as cultural festival showcases creative industry
More than 20 Northern Ireland businesses have just landed back home from Texas following the annual South By Southwest cultural festival.
SXSW is the premier global event for the creative side of the music and entertainments business.
In addition to 22 companies taking part in the international trade show, which is attended by more than 10,000 delegates, five top bands took part in a series of concerts, the highlight of which was a Northern Ireland-themed party which featured the North American premier of the movie Good Vibrations, set in Belfast.
The Northern Ireland showcase events were supported by Belfast City Council, Invest Northern Ireland, Digital Derry, and the Department for Culture, Arts and Leisure.
According to the latest estimates from the Department of Culture, creative industries contributed £329m to gross value added (GVA) for Northern Ireland in 2009. Of this music and visual and performing arts were the only areas to show an increase, rising by 26% to £34m.
Alderman Christopher Stalford, chairman of Belfast City Council's Development Committee and leader of the delegation, said that the council was committed to supporting creative businesses through business development initiatives, capability development programmes and infrastructure improvement.
"South By South West provides us with a bespoke opportunity to showcase the wealth of expertise, innovation, economic value and investment opportunities available in Belfast – especially in relation to our forth-coming Super-Connected City initiative and plans for a purpose-built digital hub, which will make our city one of the most advanced in the world. Over last three years, we have helped local musicians and music businesses, for example, to secure new contracts to the value of more than $500,000."
Tom Gray, chief technical officer at Belfast IT company Kainos, said: "It's been a really successful event for us and we've found a number of opportunities which we'll be following up." He added Kainos had received strong interest from hospitals in for their products and impressed the US health service with the Kainos App Camp, a contest where students are given guidance in designing their own app.
'It's been a successful event for us and we've found a number of opportunities'
The creative industries'
contribution to NI's GVA 57%
People who think harder times ahead for economy22
Local businesses return from SXSW festival