Flying through Innovation Week '07
Invest Northern Ireland is a government organization that tries to promote (surprise) investment in Northern Ireland. A good many of the province's historical troubles have been due to underemployment and a poor economic climate, and they're hoping to change that. Every year they run a show in Belfast called Innovation Week, and this year I was invited to address the crowd on the subject of video games. I was pretty busy at the time, so I couldn't stay the whole week; I had to fly in and fly out the same day. But they laid on a car for me and made all the other arrangements, and it went very smoothly. I gave them my lecture about the future of computer entertainment, looking out to about 2050 or so.
The show itself consisted of a number of rooms, each devoted to a different aspect of starting a business in Northern Ireland. If I had any reason to, I would certainly consider it as a place to set up. They offer tons of help on all kinds of subjects -- finding employees, looking for investors, doing the government paperwork, and so on. Labor costs are comparatively low and land prices aren't too bad -- not nearly as high as they are in Dublin, for example. Anyway, it was a fun and informative, albeit short, trip.