Derry 2.0 - What Digital Derry’s big announcements mean for you

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Just in case you missed it, on Thursday night Digital Derry played host to 100+ people at a showcase event at the City Hotel. It was one part “birthday party” for Digital Derry (now one year old), one part demo session for some exciting local companies and one part soapbox from which to announce a whole series of new projects.

Within those announcements we unveiled new seed funding opportunities, a privately-funded start-up accelerator, the University of Ulster’s newest entrepreneurship module, a proposed creative industries hub at Ebrington and a major digital festival to take place in both 2012 and 2013 as part of the City of Culture celebrations.

So what’s in it for you?

First off, if you’re a digital business owner or have an idea for one, there has never been a better time to lay your hands on money for new projects. The NI-wide Creative Industries Innovation Fund will now be a fixture in the calendar every December for the next few years and our own Culture Tech fund will provide up to £5,000 for ideas that combine digital with live events or performance. SeedComp, which this year helped to create six new businesses, is back with a total prize fund of over £25,000 - and you need nothing more than a good idea to apply.

If you’re lucky enough to be a 3rd year student in either Creative Technologies or Design at Magee then come January you’ll be able to start your own business, with the help of the University, and earn full credits towards your degree for doing so.

Each of these opportunities will also feed into the new accelerator programme announced on Thursday. Kicking off next Summer, IGNTN (www.igntn.com) will invest a total of over £100,000 into seven high-potential digital startups and provide intense mentoring and business development support over a 12-week period. The cash is being provided by local investors so there’ll be a real emphasis on getting your ideas out into the market and generating revenue as quickly as possible.

If you don’t run a digital business and have no intention of starting one then the most exciting announcement is undoubtedly the new digital festival. Taking place in the second half of 2012 and then again a year later as part of the City of Culture celebrations, this event is being developed to become a major European-scale festival of ‘digital culture’ - combining film, animation, games, digital art, music and mobile and web technologies. In 2013 we hope to base it at Ebrington but for next year we’ll be taking over empty shop units across the city centre for interactive installations, workshops and a very high-profile conference - as well as the country’s first ever digital cultural awards.

All in it’s a really exciting package of new projects (if I do say so myself). What we need from you is to get involved, help promote it all, come forward with your business ideas and come out for the events. In short, help us make as much noise as possible.

Mark Nagurski is Derry’s Digital Champion, based at the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce. You can contact him by email to digitalderry@gmail.com or by visiting www.digitalderry.org