By Clare Guinness, Innovation District Director, Innovation City Belfast
Belfast, and Northern Ireland, has a lot going for it.
The home-grown talent and innovation we have here makes the region ripe for investment. From cutting edge green maritime solutions from Artemis Technologies to leaders in MedTech such as HeartSine or AgriTech in Finnebrogue, we are home to more than a few global leaders in innovation.
But when considering all the success of our technology, manufacturing and engineering sectors, it is important not to forget the immense impact of the creative industries in Northern Ireland’s innovation journey.
Productions filmed locally, from Line of Duty to Derry Girls, have captured the hearts of audiences across the world, shining a spotlight on our corner of the UK, while Game of Thrones generated an estimated £251 million for the Northern Ireland economy.
Organisations like Hypixel Group, leaders in Northern Ireland’s booming videogame industry and creators of Hytale (which is being hailed by fans as Minecraft 2.0), and Yellowmoon, which has had post-production work nominated for Oscars, have also earned this place its spot on the global stage.
We have already seen how various sectors across Northern Ireland have been able to capitalise on this exposure, but in order to sustain this growth, investment in R&D and laying the groundwork to allow us to continue on our innovation journey, is crucial.
Studio Ulster, a key asset at Ulster University, made possible by the Belfast Region City Deal, is a prime example. Offering a unique blend of R&D facilities, such as camera-tracking technologies, virtual production and animation studios to name just a few, Studio Ulster is a world-class centre of excellence leading the way in facilitating ground-breaking innovation in Belfast and beyond.
As well as the tangible benefits the creative industries have offered us, it’s worth noting that although they are often treated as separate from our other world-class innovations, it’s difficult to gauge where the line is between creative and ’non-creative’ industries. To quote one of the world’s greatest innovators, Albert Einstein: art and science are branches of the same tree.
By embracing and respecting the significant role our creative industries have played in bringing Northern Ireland to the forefront in the minds of investors, we can strengthen our innovative offering even further and continue our journey of growth.