A century ago Belfast was an industrial powerhouse with the biggest shipyard in the world, the biggest ropeworks in the world and many engineering works and linen factories. However those days are gone.
We need to rebuild and rebalance our economy and one of the growth areas is the 'new media' and the 'digital economy'. We have young people with great ideas and great skills who are at the cutting edge of 'new media' and with the right opportunities and the right support we can make Northern Ireland a centre for 'new media'.
This requires a partnership between the companies, the government and the universities. The companies have the ideas, the government can help promote them around the world, and that is what SXSW is about, and the universities have to encourage new ideas and provide young people with the requisite skills.
Here at SXSW a young person from Northern Ireland with good ideas can sit down at a table with senior executives from companies like Microsoft. That is how SXSW operates and it is, as the Americans say, 'an awesome opportunity'.
Within Northern Ireland there is a growing recongition of the potential but we need to raise the general awareness of the sector and the potential.
Finally I must commend Invest NI, Belfast City Council, Digital Derry and Lorraine Turner from the Northern Ireland Bureau for all their efforts.