When Google’s property plans and Twitter’s search for European headquarters made front-page news recently, it became clear that the digital economy would be key to Ireland’s future. While Dublin may be hitting the headlines, other Irish cities are also looking to get in on the act.
Flush from our successful European City of Culture bid and with new confidence in the wake of last summer’s Bloody Sunday apology, Derry has set its sights on becoming a mini mecca for digital entrepreneurs with a strong emphasis on the creative and cultural end of the digital media spectrum.
The Digital Derry project has been established to drive this process forward. Digital Derry is a collaborative effort that includes the University of Ulster, the local Chamber of Commerce, City Council and dozens of local digital media companies.
We are all working together towards a shared goal: a city where creative digital media companies can thrive. To do that, we need to aim big. Digital Derry’s stated goal is to create the ‘‘best place on the island of Ireland to start and build a creative digital business’’.
Fantastic entrepreneurial talent
In striving for this, we will attract fantastic entrepreneurial talent from outside the region, while expertly fostering our indigenous entrepreneurs. It is a big ask, but if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be worth the effort we are putting in.
In the same vein, we (as entrepreneurs or cities) need to be prepared to take risks and to be flexible. There is no guarantee that everything Digital Derry tries will be a roaring success, but in being brave, testing ideas in the market, making changes and adapting as we go, we stand a far greater chance of success than if we spent the next 12 months compiling a 100-page masterplan to sit on the shelf. We also aim to be different.
In the same way that regional clones of someone else’s big idea rarely succeed, Derry is not hoping to become the next Silicon Valley, or even the next Silicon Roundabout.
We are Derry
We are not California and we are not London. We are Derry, and not afraid to shout about it.
Project Kelvin, the fastest data link to North America, a top class university and the universal availability of fibre broadband, due for completion in the autumn, should provide us with a globally competitive platform.
From this base, our focus will be on our creative digital sector: film, TV, animation, games, web and mobile content. We hope that our focus on blending technology with our strengths in the arts, music and storytelling will define us.
We are not afraid to work hard and get our hands dirty. You don’t need €100,000 to start a business, but you do need hustle. And if there is one thing that Digital Derry is bringing to the table, it is hustle.
Whether that means traipsing the globe to pitch to investors or meeting graduates to talk start-up ideas, we will be getting our hands dirty every day.