Creative Industries Innovation Fund Reopens

Artists and creative businesses urged to apply

Northern Ireland used to be home to linen mills and ship building. Today, those traditional ‘heavy’ industries have been replaced by creative industries as a prime source of competitive strength.

The creative industries in Northern Ireland employ around 31,000 people and generate £737 million annually. In order to encourage local businesses to tap into this economic shift, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland has set up funds to help local business transform their creative ideas into commercial successes.

The Creative Industries Innovation Fund – run by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, with funding from the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, and supported by Northern Ireland Screen and Digital Circle – provides assistance to companies working in craft, design, software, publishing, film and music at critical times in their business and product development.

The fund, which is currently open for applications, will give priority to companies committed to developing export-focused activity, cross-sector collaboration and businesses that can harness the innovative and entrepreneurial potential of the region’s cultural and arts sectors. Digital content projects from all sections of the creative industries are also encouraged to apply.

ACNI has funded the development of Northern Ireland’s creative industries since 2008. Roisin McDonough, ACNI chief executive, explained the importance of the initiative. 'Investment in our creative industries is generating economic returns and there is a potential to capitalise on the many opportunities that presents.

'CIFF is providing seed funding to plug skills gaps and encourage growth within this important sector. We already have the resources and talent, and if we continue to support local companies in developing their ideas, Northern Ireland will be much better equipped to compete at the forefront of the global market.'

Through the programme, creative enterprises are also afforded the opportunity to be partnered by the Institute of Directors for business mentoring support, and there are many examples of worth while projects that have already received funding.

My Tour Talk, for example (pictured above), was awarded a grant of £10,000 in November 2011. It is developing a new audio Titanic Walking Tour app. The app will bring the Titanic Trail to life for visitors to the city, linking key locations from Belfast City Hall to the Thompson Graving Dock.

The importance of the creative industries is recognised within the new Programme for Government. Arts Minister Carál Ní Chuilín, said: 'The creative industries can help to rebuild and rebalance our economy. The Executive realises the importance of promoting innovation and creativity and aims to support 200 projects over 2011-15 through CIFF.

'Ireland’s arts and cultural heritage is known throughout the world. These are strategic assets for our region, which can inspire the development of creative content, products, services, and experiences capable of competing in global markets. The creative industries can also enhance the development of other sectors such as tourism and assist and contribute to local regeneration particularly in areas that experience multiple deprivation.'

The Creative Industries Innovation Fund guidelines and application form can be accessed here. To see more artists who benefited from the Creative Industries Innovation Fund, visit CultureNorthernIreland's YouTube playlist