£13m pumped into Northern Ireland creative sector
Northern Ireland's two main universities have joined forces to announce the largest ever single investment in the creative industries here.
Ulster University and Queen's University Belfast said the £13m for the new Future Screens NI venture could help generate £6bn for the economy and create 3,000 new jobs over the next five years.
The project, which will involve creative hubs in Belfast, Newry, Londonderry and Coleraine, is geared at bringing various film and screen projects under a single umbrella, boosting efforts to sell Northern Ireland as a location to international film studios.
It will also focus on areas such as gaming, animation, and using virtual reality in health, tourism and engineering.
Vice-chancellor of Ulster University, Paddy Nixon, said: "One of the challenges has been the diversity of stuff going on in Northern Ireland. By bringing it all under the one umbrella, it creates a critical mass that we can sell as a nation to the world.
"It really makes us look significant in a global market that is huge. We're now going to be a beacon for the rest of the world."
Glenn Patterson of Queen's University, who co-wrote the award-winning Good Vibrations film, said the move will help keep talent in Northern Ireland.
"The more opportunities we create, the more jobs for people, the more people can see a future to work here," he said.
"It then becomes a virtuous circle. People stay because there are jobs, and because people stay and invest their talent and their energy, new jobs and new possibilities are created."