By @SimonCocking

Describe the event – the elevator pitch …

A 3 day tech conference in the heart of West Cork, the objective of the event is to rebrand rural Ireland as location in which talented people can stay by choice start a digital/tech start up that can scale, employ, and trade globally from rural Ireland.

Who will the event appeal to?

National Digital Week will appeal to a diverse audience, people of all ages will be able to engage and learn from National Digital Week. The event would also appeal to members of the Start-Up community, Corporates, Established business of multiple sectors, Students in search of opportunities, Academics, rural development enthusiasts, government & the farming community

What inspired you to launch it last year?

It was sparked by the need to raise awareness of what we were planning on achieving in regard to the Ludgate Hub, It was important to send a message to people that we were committed to the success of tech in rural Ireland. National Digital Week is really about changing people’s perceptions of rural Ireland, mainstream media has often referred to the death of rural Ireland as a consequence of the 2008 Recession, yes there are elements of a decline in rural Ireland, but every town has talented people. It is all about bringing this talent together to collectively start something special.

Traditionally rural Ireland has so many talented people whom have been forced to emigrate and many of these emigrants started amazing success stories. If an option was there for people to remain in rural Ireland and a facility to allow the creation of a vibrant start-up eco-system that can provide access to funding, networks, mentoring, fantastic success stories could arise from rural Ireland. National Digital Week is about promoting this vision and our success in attracting high profile national & international speakers brought rural Ireland to people’s attention. This elevated profile for Rural Ireland is also about the attraction of Foreign Direct Investment to our communities, if we don’t promote the reputation of the area companies won’t consider a rural location.

What worked well last year? What tweaks have you applied for the 2016 version?

The intimate nature of the event was a huge success, we had no VIP areas, and attendees and speakers really enjoyed the intermingled dimension of the event, for instance you never know who you would be having lunch with each day, you could very easily end up sitting with the Key Note speaker. Another success was the tangible nature of the event, we wanted people to learn and many of the sessions were practical, to the extent that learnings could be implemented on Monday morning. The entertainment element of National Digital Week was a fantastic success it added a informal dimension for attendees, start-ups to meet interact and network with sponsors, speakers & like minded individuals.

We have tried to add a greater international contingent to National Digital Week, we have an increased number of international speakers this year which is raising the profile of the event and profile of rural Ireland as a destination that can attract world class tech speakers.

Where will the event be on this year?

The event will take place in the West Cork Hotel on two stages, with a Vodafone Connected Tent, the Lady’s Well Brewery, and some smaller spin off events in the Ludgate Hub.

What is the thinking behind the different days of the event this year?

We want the themes of each day to have an appeal to a diverse audience and this diverse audience represents different sectors of the economy.

Thursday 10/11/2016 (AIB Brave Stage) – Digital Champions (Student Day) 

We want to promote, Science, Tech and Entrepreneurship to the student community, they are the up and coming leaders and if we can get them thinking about Science, Tech, Entrepreneurship they may be the generation that might bunk the emigration curve, stay in Ireland to build and contribute to Ireland’s competitive tech eco-system and economy.

Thursday 10/11/2016 (Google Stage)  – Farming 2.0

In West Cork and rural Ireland, agriculture is a major sector of the local economy. The Agri sector is a sector which as a strong tech element to it, and the opportunities for innovation are there for entrepreneurs and farmers to take advantage of to create fantastic companies. At National Digital Week we bring a combination of local expertise, tech innovators, government, and international perspectives on global agriculture to Skibbereen.

Friday 11/11/2016 – AIB Brave Stage –  Female Leadership, Funding & Founders,

After a sell out event for 2015’s Female Leadership session, we are delighted that in 2016 National Digital Week will have a Female Leadership session with some fantastic female leaders, we hope to inspire females to push for  leadership positions and to start their own businesses. We have designed the day to accommodate for a male and female audience, all sessions will be relevant to both genders. We have diversified the structure of the day to include males and females with some great start-up advice and stories at our Founders session. We will also have experienced entrepreneurs, investors and experts advising on funding options for start ups, the does and the don’ts and how to get investor ready. We will also have the Creative Collective spin off event which will take place the evening of Friday, this will focus on the creative side of rural Ireland, how can we create and attract, fim, media, animation firms to establish in West Cork.

Friday 11/11/2016 –  Google Stage

The Google Garage team is back in Skibbereen for National Digital Week 2016. A team of experts will take you through a one to one experience how to make your business excel on line.

Saturday 12/11/2016 – AIB Brave Stage – New Digital Economies

We have a superb line up for the final day of National Digital Week 2016, the sessions are as follows, The Sharing Economy, The 1 Gigabit Society, Internet of Things, Power of Video, Internationalization. Google will also have an excellent line up of entrepreneurs and creators speaking throughout the day as well as another day of the Google Garage. The National Digital Week Finale will take place on  Saturday with special guests Booka Brass, and a festival themed atmosphere across the Vodafone Connected Tent and adjoining stages of AIB & Google.

Where will people be coming from to attend this event?

About 60% of our audience last year came from outside of the Cork region and over 7% were international attendees, and the rest a combination of many counties across Ireland. This year we hope to grow our numbers, retaining our Cork audience but to expand to a larger contingent from Dublin, Galway, Limerick and other countries, we hope to double our international attendance for National Digital Week 2016.

How can people find out more about it and buy tickets?

You can buy tickets now on www.digitalweek.ie and see our website for full schedule!

Anything else we should have asked / you’d like to add?

What do I get for my ticket at National Digital Week?

Access to AIB Arena, Google Stage, Vodafone Connected Tent, the Lady’s Well Brewery, All spin off events, All night time entertainment, including access to National Digital Week finale, a superb lunch sourced from local producers in West Cork, Teas & Coffees, Nibbles.


If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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