Shaping our digital landscape: developing your ideas

Friday 19 September, 2014 10:30 - 16:00 | The Playhouse Theatre - Derry/Londonderry

Belfast Media Festival BMF@CultureTech

Shaping our digital landscape: developing your ideas

Brought to you by Honeycomb – Creative Works

This is a free event. You must register online in advance to secure your place.

Transport is provided from Belfast. See below for details


10:30 Registration

11:00 – 11:15 Opening remarks Michael Tumelty, BBC on behalf of the Belfast Media Festival

11:15-12:00 Keynote Colin Macdonald, Head of Games Channel 4. 'Gaming - what's in it for you?'

‘Colin will give an insight into the opportunities around gaming, in particular where there’s crossover with television. He will talk about the opportunities in gaming which your existing IP presents. He will also present the challenges, insights and lessons learned from the development and release of some of Channel 4’s hit games, talking through the steps involved in making a chart-topping game.

12:00 – 12:45 DogEars: ‘Animation and beyond.’

Using hit animation show Puffin Rock as a case study, the Dog Ears team will discuss their approach to IP creation, innovative ways to reach your audience and possibilities for collaboration. With storytelling and great characters at the heart of everything they make, Dog Ears will give an insight into their multi-platform creative thought processes.

12:45 – 13:30 Lunch

13:30 – 14:15 Keynote Jon Vanhala, Managing Partner, Thesis Ventures. ‘Getting investor-ready. Moving from concept to commercial reality’

As an experienced investor, Jon will talk about what it takes to bring a great idea to a wide consumer market. Using case studies from his own investment stable, he will present the opportunities open to great content creators and talk about some of the pitfalls he has encountered along the way.

14:15 – 15:00 Panel: Funding Creative Experimentation.

  • Steve Orr, Director, Director, NISP Connect
  • Sandy McKinnon, Director, Techstart NI
  • Tracey Walsh, Invest NI
  • Donal Phillips, Northern Ireland Screen
  • Padraig Canavan successful angel investor
  • Sarah McBride, CREATE:2014, successful Kickstarter project

15:00 – 15:45 Emma Parkins, Head of Development for 360Production in conversation with Adam Gee, Multiplatform Commissioning Editor at Channel 4 and Jamie Lennox, Creative Director of ChannelFlip.

Topics range from multiplatform innovation to digital campaigning, from short form video production to amplification through social media.

16:00 – 17:00 BBC Connected Studio – Inspiring creativity through new technology. Drinks reception.

Come and meet the team over drinks who want to discuss opportunities of working with the BBC in the digital space. BBC Connected Studio is a team that inspires the creation and development of new online experiences, ones that our audiences will love. It does this by enabling creative and technical partnerships in and outside of the BBC. It employs a unique way of working that makes potentially uncomfortable processes like rapidly experimenting with new technologies, inviting audience feedback at the early stages of development, and even making mistakes – comfortable.

Belfast Transport

Pick up at 8am SHARP from front door of University of Ulster York St. Return journey from the front of the Playhouse at 5pm, return to University of Ulster for 7pm approximately. You must indicate on your registration that you require transport to make sure that a seat is booked in your name.

About your speakers

Colin McDonald, Channel 4

Colin entered the games industry in 1990 as Software Manager of SAM Computers, the manufacturer of the last British home computer. Following that experience he founded a small games company which brought around twenty titles to market, including licences of Lemmings and Prince of Persia. He joined DMA Design in 1997 as Producer on the multi-billion dollar generating Grand Theft Auto franchise, then helped found and was Studio Manager of Realtime Worlds, where he helped raise over $80m in investment and oversaw development of the 2 million selling, BAFTA-winning game Crackdown, and the online game APB. Colin was then VP of Business Development at RTW spinout eeGeo, and is now Commissioning Editor for Games at Channel 4, and Chairman of facial animation specialists Speech Graphics.

Dog Ears

Dog Ears is an award-winning media company based in Derry, creating world-class IP for a young audience. Their animation studio is in full-swing, producing 39 episodes of Puffin Rock, an animated pre-school TV series, narrated by Chris O'Dowd. Puffin Rock is a co-production with Cartoon Saloon in Kilkenny and Penguin Books and will air on RTE jr and Nick Jr in early 2015.

Jon Valhala, Thesis Ventures

Thesis is a hands-on, early-stage venture fund based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. They provide exceptional entrepreneurs with a combination of intellectual, network and investment capital. They empower them to launch innovative, category-shaping consumer brands. They exist to help transform validated concepts into scalable businesses.

Jon Vanhala co-founded Thesis with the goal of developing and supporting talented creatives. Jon is a former professional musician, writer, arranger turned record label executive. He started with the world’s largest music label group UMG as intern moving his way up the ladder to become Head of Digital and New Business.

Adam Gee, Multiplatform Commissioning Editor (Factual), Channel 4

Adam is one of the most experienced UK broadcasting commissioners of multiplatform interactive projects around TV. His projects range from Embarrassing Bodies to Don’t Stop the Music (TX: Sept 2014), from Hugh’s Fish Fight to Jamie’s Dream School, from The Great British Property Scandal to One Born Every Minute.

Adam has won over 70 international awards for his productions - including an Emmy, four BAFTAs, three RTS Awards, two Media Guardian Innovation Awards, a Design Council Millennium Award and the Grand Award at the New York International Film & Television Festival.

Adam has served on BAFTA’s Television and Interactive Entertainment committees and is a voting member of the European Film Academy. He is a trustee of Culture24.

Emma Parkins, Head of Development, 360Production

Emma has been with 360Production since the company was born 6 years ago.

During this time she has developed and showrun major multi-platform and TV productions including Headsqueeze for You Tube, Factomania for BBC Global, Things You Need to Know for BBC Network/Discovery Networks, Making History for National Geographic and How Money Works for Yahoo.

360Production combines the highest TV production values with the new formats and shapes of emerging platforms.

We make science, tech, lifestyle and financial content for online clients including Yahoo and Google; popular science and history shows for channels like Discovery and National Geographic; and blue chip science, history and documentary programming for broadcasters such as The BBC, RTE, PBS and The Open University.

We are based in London and Derry. Our Derry base includes a world class in-house graphics and animation team, making everything from simple informational gfx to full photoreal CGI.
In June 2014 360Production was the first company to be acquired by the Rare Television Group

About the Funder Panel

Steve Orr, NISP Connect NISP CONNECT is a leadership platform and catalyst between Northern Ireland’s entrepreneurs, research institutions, investors, technology corporations and professional service providers by linking entrepreneurs with the resources they need for success.

Steve graduated from the University of Northumbria at Newcastle in 1994 with a degree in Business Information Technology. For the following six years Steve worked in Buckinghamshire, San Diego and San Francisco for S.Com Ltd and S.Com Inc. In 2000, Steve co-founded Kineticom, Inc a San Diego, California based technical talent firm. In 2006 Kineticom was ranked #33 on the Inc 500, the list of the fastest growing privately held companies in the US. Bored with perfect weather and missing the craic, Steve has now returned to his roots and hopes to focus the rest of his career on helping to create an advantage for new ventures and entrepreneurs from Northern Ireland.

Sandy McKinnon, Pentech Ventures

Sandy has over 20 years’ experience in commercialising technology innovations, the last 10 of these as a partner with Pentech.

During that time he has been involved in investing in many startups and working as an active board member to help grow these companies through to exit.

Prior to Pentech, he was Director of Knowledge Transfer & Technology and Research Services at Heriot-Watt University where he helped in mentoring and fund raising of twelve spin-out companies.

Sandy is also a partner of techstart NI which is aiming to help the most talented and ambitious entrepreneurs and early-stage technology companies in Northern Ireland.

techstart NI will deliver an integrated programme of advice, grants and funding. The majority of the techstart NI team have operational backgrounds having been involved in founding, running and exiting technology business which could bring the extra bit of help you need to succeed.

Northern Ireland Screen Northern Ireland Screen is the government-backed lead agency in Northern Ireland for the film, television and digital content industry, driving global growth through boosting our economy, celebrating our culture and enhancing our children’s education.

Northern Ireland Screen provides focused intervention in 8 key areas:

FILMING IN NORTHERN IRELAND Locations, the Paint Hall Studio, crew and services, finance and tax incentives, previous productions.

INVESTMENT AND FUNDING What we fund and how you can apply to us for funding.

BUSINESS AND SKILLS Affiliated and industry standard training courses and financial assistance for skills development.

IRISH LANGUAGE BROADCAST FUND Information on the ILBF, Irish language programming, ILBF training schemes and how to apply for ILBF funding.

ULSTER-SCOTS BROADCAST FUND Information on the fund and how to apply.

EDUCATION How Northern Ireland Screen promotes the use of moving image as a tool for learning.

ARCHIVE AND EXHIBITION Northern Ireland Screen’s Digital Film Archive (DFA), the exhibition sector in Northern Ireland, festivals and markets at home and abroad.

MARKETING AND INFORMATION Marketing Northern Ireland as a worldwide production location; selling our funds and facilities; promoting our product and talent; communicating our success stories and providing a first-class information service for the Northern Ireland sector.

Tracey Walsh, Head of TV, Film and Digital Media Team, Invest Northern Ireland

Tracey joined Invest NI in 2002 and is currently head of the TV, Film and Digital Media sector team within Invest NI’s Technology and Services Division.

Prior to taking up this role in 2012, Tracey held a number of roles within Invest NI, including working with local start up companies in Ballymena before moving to Washington DC and New York for three years as Business Development Director for the International Investment division in 2003. After returning home to Northern Ireland Tracey was asked to take on a key strategic role within Invest NI with responsibility for co-ordinating Invest NI’s input to the US-NI Economic Conference in Washington DC. This was the first event of its kind to be hosted by US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton and provided a unique opportunity to develop relationships with many of Northern Ireland’s most significant global US companies as well as key stakeholders both in the USA and in Northern Ireland including the US Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland, Declan Kelly.

Tracey is a graduate from the University of Ulster with a BA (Hons) in European Business Studies and is bi-lingual in Spanish.

Padraig Canavan

Padraig is a successful entrepreneur and angel investor. In 2011, he sold his company Singularity Ltd. to US corporation Kofax and then spent 2 years as their SVP head of global BPM sales. He founded Singularity in 1994 and served as its Chief Executive Officer until its’ sale. Padraig served as Head of US Operations of Braid Systems Ltd., a leading EAI and secure messaging technology supplier to global financial market participants. He has also acted as a special consultant to IT and Financial Services Institutions with a focus on the successful implementation of process automation in their business process redesign and automation. Padraig has been President of Derry~Londonderry Chamber of Commerce. Padraig holds a degree from the University of Manchester.

Sarah McBride, CREATE:2014, Successful Kickstarter

Sarah McBride is the CEO of Create:2014. Sarah has been heavily involved with both Generation Innovation and YENI over the last 15 months. In her role as Managing Director of a Young Enterprise company, Sarah and her team developed a homework diary app and through the Young Enterprise competition process she was nominated as a finalist in the Young Entrepreneur of the Future category. This led to an invitation from Young Enterprise to represent Northern Ireland at the “Next Generation Leaders” conference in Peterborough, Canada in August. Sarah has a keen interest in tech start-ups and her experiences over the past year have cemented her passion for promoting to her peers the business opportunities in the tech world.

Kickstarter is the world's largest funding platform for creative projects - a home for film, music, art, theatre, games, comics, design, photography, and more. Hear from Sarah McBride of CREATE: 2014 about how the team ran and marketed a successful Kickstarter campaign for their one-day conference.

About BBC Connected Studios

The Connected Studio team is made up of BBC R&D experts, digital gurus, creative strategists, business managers and event specialists. It currently runs three franchises across the UK and has funded 40 pilots through its innovation programme since 2012. Robin Cramp, Catherine Boggan and Helen Xa will be on hand to chat and explain how we work and answer any questions about the potential of partnering with us in the future. For more information visit