Dr. Bernard Toal — Northern Irish Broker
The broker for The Creative State's 4CNW programme in Northern Ireland is Dr. Barney Toal, who has been Chief Executive of NORIBIC since 2001. Having originally worked in research as a Physicist, but with an interest in the commercial realisation of the results of research, he moved to working in an Innovation Centre in Belfast in 1989 as a Technical Advisor to SME start-ups.
Heading up a small team of innovation support practitioners at NORIBIC, he has identified the Creative Industries Sector as an important area of growth for the economy in Northern Ireland and, since 2004, NORIBIC has focused a stream of activity in this area, making them an ideal match for the 4CNW programme.
NORIBIC created the first Digital Media/Games incubation in Northern Ireland – Digital Media Works – located within the campus of the North West Regional College in Derry and has developed and delivered several support programmes and conferences for the creative industries sector throughout that period. These include Creative Arc, Creative Incubation Support Programme, Steps to Creativity and the Creative Entrepreneurs Club. We have also hosted the Awakenings I and II games developers’ conferences and the Awakening Creative Entrepreneurship Conference in Derry.
Delivering the 4CNW programme for The Creative State will continue NORIBIC’s work in this growing sector, following on from its own Steps to Creativity Programme run in 2010. Both programmes seek to marry the expertise and experience of the creative sector with traditional business opportunities for mutual benefit to both parties. Having successfully delivered Steps to Creativity across Northern Ireland, NORIBIC is keen to work on this wider regional programme that additionally covers the North West of the Republic of Ireland and Scotland. This extension of the region will enable the building up of a substantial database of creative industry professionals that can only add strength to NORIBIC's already comprehensive support resource.