Thought Leadership

Helping to build a creative trade route between UK, Ireland and South Africa

Helping to build a creative trade route between UK, Ireland and South Africa

Tom Holmes

Founder & Chairman


Creative industries are growing in Cape Town

As part of the build up to UK City of Culture 2013, the city of Derry~Londonderry has set itself the task to strengthen its international connections and invite other markets to connect and be part of Northern Ireland’s new story.

Working alongside Creativebrief Founder and Chairman, Tom Holmes (who is originally from Northern Ireland and went to university in South Africa) Derry City Council identified Cape Town as a priority market for mutually beneficial economic relationships to be developed and share learning.

  • South Africa is a unique market, offering a combination of well-developed first world economic infrastructure, with a vibrant and emerging economy
  • It is a natural gateway, not only to its market of 47 million inhabitants but also to the entire Southern African market of 185 million
  • South Africa has with the most advanced, broad based economy on the continent and an industrial sector and infrastructure more typical of first world economies
  • South Africa is an ideal export market for N. Ireland companies
  • There is a similar well developed banking and legal system to the UK, a familiar business culture where English is the main business language and a time difference of never more than two hours
  • In global terms South Africa offers a unique and compelling package: the stability of a developed country, the opportunities of a vibrant emerging market, and a cultural climate that fosters growth
  • There is a recognized Diaspora population in Cape Town and political linkages exist and continue in respect of shared efforts to promote peace and reconciliation.

Where Creativebrief could help

Because of previous knowledge and experience of the South African market, Creativebrief was tasked to identify and establish relationships with trade and development bodies.

  • To help create business opportunities for the digital, business processes and life science sectors
  • To help initiate networking with Cape Town companies in support of future trade connections, to explore research and educational links with universities and other educational centres
  • To help establish City to City connections to encourage an ongoing economic relationship
  • To help establish cultural connections to assist with creating relationships with cultural providers for Clipper homecoming festival in 2012 and City of Culture 2013.

We are open for business and wish to grow our international connections with digital, tourism and media interests. We are the inaugural UK City of Culture 2013 and have a transformation agenda that has already activated more than £50 million British Pounds into the local economy. This is our time to look for new ideas and initiatives with international partners.

Gerald Diver, Councillor

Creativebrief and representatives from Derry~Londonderry met with leading organisations WESGRO, Interactive Africa and Design Indaba, Silicon Cape, Rhodes University, University of Cape Town, Google Umbono incubation programme, VEGA school and a range of design and advertising agencies.

Tom Holmes observed “the response from Cape Town’s digital and marketing community has been terrific. It was great for the Derry team to meet leading movers and shakers like Rob Stokes at Quirk, Ravi Naidoo at Interactive Africa, Matt Buckland at Creative Spark, Ian Davidson at Ian Davidson Communications, Lance Gibbons at The Call Sheet, Nick Durrant at Bluegrass Digital, Kevan Aspoas at Jupiter Drawing Room, James Barty at King James, Godfrey Morley at Draft FCB, Natie Maphanga at Engen Petroleum, Robin Parker at Bizcommunity, Murray Steyn at UCT, Yossi Schwartz at Y&R South Africa, Guy White and Qondakele Sompondo at Rhodes University, Johanna Kollar at Google Umbono and Andrea Bohmert, Member of Exco at The Silicon Cape Initiative.”

While in Cape Town, Tom met Dr Laurine Platzky, Deputy Director-General, Department of the Premier, Western Cape Provincial Government and discussed the success of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, its impact on ‘brand South Africa’ and how Cape Town’s Creative Industries might benefit from more international connections and exposure.

Trade opportunities

Nils Flaatten, Chief Executive Officer of WESGRO said, “Any city or partnership that has identified an opportunity to connect with Cape Town should be supported. Our ability to share best practice with Derry~Londonderry and help with networking will result in accelerating business development opportunities for Cape Town.

“The delegation is part of a larger international trade opportunity created by the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, which has not only made a significant economic impact, spending millions of rands in the city, but has also introduced its destination and trade sponsors to Cape Town with longer term business building potential for local companies.”

The Clipper Race provides its sponsors with access to 15 markets on six continents over twelve months of the 40,000-mile race.

Matt Peachey, Enterprise and Investment Officer with Derry~Londonderry, explained that the receptiveness of business in the Cape Town area augured well for future trade connections.

He said, “South Africa is recognised for its innovation and creativity and presents real opportunities for growth. A very supportive business network was available to make connections with us and there is a clear intention to explore business opportunities. With our similar time zones, attitude to business and similar growth sectors being identified we have active partnerships being pursued to progress trade missions and e-learning initiatives.”

Digital connections

Mark Nagurski, Digital Champion with Derry~Londonderry, said the business similarities between Cape Town and Northern Ireland exceeded his expectations.

“There is shared excellence between the digital sectors in Cape Town and Derry and we will be providing a unique platform for digital companies in Cape Town to showcase their knowledge and services in Derry~Londonderry during 2012 and 2013 through a series of festival events. As an emerging specialist location in cultural technology, Derry~Londonderry can provide immediate access to business opportunities in NI, UK and Republic of Ireland”.

“Derry~Londonderry has 75 digital businesses including large scale FDI firms like Fujitsu and Allstate alongside indigenous exporting companies for software and e-learning. The entrepreneurial community is growing in relation to games, mobile content, moving image media (film, TV and animation), music technology and web applications. As a switched on city it can provide the fastest city-to-city international telecommunications link with the east coast of the USA and offers fibre-based broadband to all our citizens and companies while providing free Wi-Fi Internet access across the city centre.”

As a university city there’s an opportunity for expansion with life sciences and other research areas in robotics and, of course, peace and reconciliation.

“We are proud of our already strong connections with South Africa through the work of the University of Ulster (INCORE) and our pioneering digital sector and we will continue to grow in internationally recognised research excellence in fields like nanotechnology, intelligent systems, clinical life sciences and law.”

The Clipper 11-12 Round the World Race

The Clipper Race was established 15 years ago by sailing legend Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail around the globe solo and non-stop in 1968-9. Clipper 11-12 is the eighth edition of the biennial race which is crewed by ‘ordinary’ people from all walks of life aboard a fleet of ten identical stripped down 68-foot ocean racing yachts, each of which is sponsored by a global destination or organisation.