Some £300,000 of new business contracts were created in Londonderry in a single day as part of a programme from the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure.
More than 80 local creative industries suppliers were brought together with 78 traditional industries organisations at an event in the city organised through DCAL's Creative Marketplace programme.
The pilot project works by using traditional sector companies using Creative Vouchers to negotiate directly with suppliers to help develop their business through services such as graphic design, animation, software, craft or filmmaking. These new collaborations will support innovative and commercially-focused developments by firms in areas such as manufacturing, tourism, healthcare and the retail sectors as well as providing a boost to local companies working in the creative industries.
The project has attracted enormous interest, with more than 500 expressions of interest received from local companies in manufacturing, retail, tourism, professional services, health and the charitable sector.
The programme is part of a partnership by Derry firms, NORIBIC, Digital Circle, C-TRIC and CultureTECH.
Director of CultureTECH Festival, Mark Nagurski, said: “This programme has attracted a level of interest well-beyond anyone’s initial expectations.
“Undoubtedly today’s event will help forge some exciting new business relationships and kick-start a host of new projects.
“The event has attracted companies and organisations from right across the region, and it is this kind of creative collaboration and wide-ranging impact which highlights the potential of Derry as an all-Ireland and international hub for the creative industries and innovative approaches to economic and social challenges”.
In addition to the main programme, a parallel project has also been developed for schools in the North West which has attracted 160 entries from more than 500 young people in 10 schools.
The Creative Schools App Challenge will culminate later this week in a day-long event held at St Cecilia’s College in Derry highlighting the entrepreneurial potential of young people.
DCAL Minister Caral Ni Chuilin said: “This exciting pilot Voucher Scheme builds on studies which have shown that working with creative businesses can help firms to become more innovative.
“Our local creative industries are a vibrant and important growth sector for our economy.
“They can also help companies and organisations in other sectors to develop and showcase new products, services and business models which can compete and succeed in local and international markets.
“The development and delivery of the Creative Marketplace programme by innovative organisations based in Derry shows the role the North West can play in supporting the creative industries and driving creativity and innovation across the north of Ireland.”