£1m immersive attraction at W5 will truly ‘AMAZE’

By | Business, Creative Industries, General, News, Newsroom, Tourism

£1m immersive attraction at W5 will truly ‘AMAZE’

W5, Northern Ireland’s Science and Discovery Centre, has launched a new £1m fully immersive digital attraction that will take the visitor experience to a new level and boost tourism.

The AMAZE experience at W5, which was unveiled at a special premiere, opened to the public on 1st June 2019.

It will be the UK and Ireland’s first tourist attraction to combine all the elements of immersive soundscapes, multi-screen projections, physical props and structures, 360 degree projection and augmented reality (AR) portals enabling visitors to delve into new worlds and experience technological innovations first hand.

The first exhibition ‘Land of Legends’ is a visual, storytelling extravaganza revealing how Northern Ireland was formed by fire and ice, and how its stunning landscapes have encouraged incredible mythical tales of giants and dragons.

W5 Chair Catherine O’Mullan said: “AMAZE is an important part of the development and transformation of W5. This immersive technology will allow us the opportunity to create new exhibitions that will appeal to people of all ages. For our first exhibition, we have had the privilege of working with some of Northern Ireland’s most creative individuals to bring this fantastic experience to life including Game of Thrones storyboard artist William Simpson and local landscape photographer Tony Dalton.”

The project was supported by the Inspiring Science Fund, a scheme co-founded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Wellcome. Additional support came from the Odyssey Trust, and Tourism NI, which provided £400k from its Immersive Technology Fund.

AMAZE will support Tourism NI’s ambition to double tourism value by 2030 with the continuing development of compelling immersive tourism attractions.

Rosemarie McHugh Tourism NI Director of Product Development said: “Digital technologies have transformed how visitors can engage with a destination and enabled attractions such as W5 to enhance the visitor experience and engage with new audiences.  The AMAZE experience at W5 is a fantastic addition to the visitor offering in Belfast, providing a unique way for visitors to learn about Northern Ireland’s land and legends and experience our story. We congratulate the team at W5 for their hard work in delivering this compelling new addition to the tourism product.”

The investment supplements the planned £4.5m investment in W5 to create eight brand new themed zones, scheduled to be completed by June 2020. £3m funding was awarded through the Inspiring Science Fund and a further £1.5m invested by the Odyssey Trust.

To find out more about W5 visit www.w5online.co.uk.

A New Era as top football agency expands into Northern Ireland

By | Business, General, News, Newsroom, Sport

Rio Ferdinand has officially opened the new office of one of the UK’s top football agencies at Innovation Factory in West Belfast.

New Era Global Sports Management, which represents the interests of Rio Ferdinand, Mick McCarthy, Harry Redknapp and Robbie Savage, is the first big name football agency to open an office in Northern Ireland.

It is also New Era’s first satellite office outside its London HQ, where it is headed up by former professional players, Jamie Moralee and Pete Smith.

The Belfast office is run by former professional footballer, Lee Mudd, who says the agency was drawn by the vast untapped potential talent throughout the island of Ireland.

“There are a lot of talented young players here and having an office in Belfast will provide them with the opportunity to make it on a bigger stage. We currently have 15 players on our books from Ireland and Northern Ireland and I would expect this to grow considerably in a short time as there is so much potential here,” he said.

New Era Global Sports believes in a holistic approach, supporting players throughout their careers and into retirement.

Lee added: “We recognise that it is an enormous challenge for a young person to leave this country and go to live in England. It is important to provide them with a support network. It can be a tough, ruthless environment and they need a caring team behind them to look after them not just now but throughout their careers.”

He points to the example of New Era Ambassador, Rio Ferdinand who has seen many highs and lows during his career and is now a successful businessman, media pundit and mentor to many young professionals.

“Rio has been with New Era since the start and is the perfect example of how the company has helped him on his journey and shown him that there is a life after playing football. We want young players here to have access to all that experience.”

Lee himself was set to sign a deal with French side Lyon when his father suddenly passed away. He was out of the game for six months and never really returned to the top level. He said there was no-one to give him support and advice. It is this that gives him the motivation to help young players.

He wanted to start the business at Innovation Factory as it gives him the flexibility to grow the business: “We are in a growth phase and this gives us the chance to build our business and increase capacity as needed. We also liked the networking opportunities with other businesses that have ambitious plans; it offers us the chance to feed off this energy and new ideas”

Shane Smith, Innovation Factory’s Community Engagement Officer, said: “We are very excited to welcome such a prestigious sports agency to Northern Ireland. New Era Sports has recognised the facilities and support we have to offer and we look forward to helping them expand their activities in Northern Ireland.”

Innovation Factory is owned by Belfast City Council and operated on their behalf by Oxford Innovation. The £9.1m business hub was funded by Belfast City Council and Invest NI with support from the European Regional Development Fund.

Customers include a range of start-ups and growing businesses in a variety of sectors including digital services, creative industries, business services, financial services and research and development.

For more information on the Innovation Factory visit: www.innovationfactoryni.com


How far would you go to save the only planet you ever had?

By | Comedy, Creative Industries, Theatre

Multi award winning theatre company, Sole Purpose Productions has launched a new play in which an Irish woman kidnaps arch climate change denier Donald Trump to save the planet.

 Mothers Out Front by writer, academic and social campaigner Edie Shillue is a play that uses comedy to explore the serious issue of climate change.

It tells the story of three women who, after years of ‘thinking globally and acting locally’, are fed up with being ignored. They go to a protest at a global economic summit in Dublin.  One of the women takes a wrong turn and decides to singlehandedly change the protest.  She kidnaps the American President, determined to exchange him for a different type of ransom.  This tragicomedy asks the question ‘How far would you go to save the only planet you ever had?’

Ms Shillue said: “This story will look familiar to many people, as three Irish women try to get all of us to listen to their warnings about the future. There’s nothing they won’t do to get us all to #listentoyourmother.  I also hope that people take the time afterward to ask questions about how they can better understand climate change and what they can do to help those among us who are climate defenders.”

Her previous play The House, which was produced by Sole Purpose in 2015, tackled the issue of human trafficking. She has been working on issues of global and social justice for 20 years in locations around the world. During her work in Vietnam in 1993, she became aware of climate change as an issue of justice when she witnessed flooding patterns in SE Asia generally and Vietnam specifically.

Sole Purpose, which won the Special Jury Prize at Origin Theatre’s 1st Irish Festival in New York earlier this year, was on the road again in partnership with Zero Waste North West (ZWNW). The play is performed by a stellar cast including Abby Oliveira (Life and Love; Lesbian Style by Hilary McCollum, Sole Purpose, winner of Eva Gore Booth Award 2014), Carmel McCafferty (Clouds on a Mountain Road by Orna Akad, Sole Purpose), Muire McCallion (Sleepy Hollow: A Musical Tale, Cre: 8 Theatre).

It was directed by Patricia Byrne, Artistic Director of Sole Purpose Productions, who has toured work throughout the UK, Ireland and the USA.

Patricia said: “We need to raise awareness of climate change as much as possible. Working with such a great cast and production team will certainly get the message out there in a dynamic and impactful way. I am grateful to our funders – the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland for their support and dedication.”

Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development, added: “The Arts Council is delighted to support this latest work from Sole Purpose Productions through National Lottery funding.  It’s another great example, from this award-winning organisation, of using the arts to tackle difficult subjects and create an open discussion.”

Maeve O’Neill of ZWNW said, “It is great for Zero Waste North West to support this new play on climate change. The arts play such an important role to educate and inform people about climate change, and empower people to be part of the movement to save the planet. We look forward to the discussion after each play to further the action against climate breakdown.”


Innovation Factory hosts major drone event

By | Corporate, General, News, Newsroom

Leading experts from the drone industry have highlighted the positive use of this emerging technology at a unique event at the Innovation Factory in Belfast.

Aimed at local business owners, the free seminar on applied drone technology revealed the benefits of using drones and explored the full potential of autonomous technology.

Three of the UK and Ireland’s drone industry experts discussed current legislation and changes in regulation, how businesses are using drone technology and highlighted drone innovations in development in Ireland.

Innovation Factory on the Springfield Road organised the event in partnership with its in-house drone experts EVP Group Limited, along with Leeds-based COPTRZ; ARPAS-UK (The UK Drone Association) and Drone Consultants Ireland.

Niall Mulvaney, Operations Director at EVP Group said: “Most of the time when you hear about drones, it’s a negative story. You rarely hear about the positive impact drones are having across a wide range of industries like construction, conservation and renewables. We want to reinforce a positive message and assure businesses that drone technology is affordable, obtainable and easy to integrate into their everyday operations.”

Majella Barkley, Centre Director at Innovation Factory said those attending would gain significant insight into the different drone technologies that could benefit their businesses.

She said: “This is one of the most exciting advances with huge potential for Northern Ireland but it is also at an early stage of its development so this is a chance to demystify this new technology. This information day will give business leaders the chance to understand how it can benefit their businesses, to hear real examples of companies currently using drone technology and to learn about the legal, regulatory and compliance implications of this emerging industry.”

Andrew Murray, Commercial Director at EVP Group added: “We feel a responsibility to raise awareness of responsible and safe drone use. Having worked with youth organisations and schools, I am always surprised that drones do not play a greater part in training and education. Autonomy and automation are the future of industries such as transport, manufacturing, construction and agriculture; therefore our kids need access to education as early as possible”.

Innovation Factory is owned by Belfast City Council and operated on their behalf by Oxford Innovation. The £9.1m business hub was funded by Belfast City Council and Invest NI with support from the European Regional Development Fund.

Customers include a range of start-ups and growing businesses in a variety of sectors including digital services, creative industries, business services, financial services and research and development.

For more information on the Innovation Factory visit: www.innovationfactoryni.com


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