Business diary . . . events coming up

Business Eye
Ruth Kimbley, commercial director at Strategic Power Connect, and Business Eye's Richard Buckley at the launch of the 2024 Business Eye Sustainability Awards


The 2024 Business Eye Sustainability Awards, in association with lead sponsors Strategic Power Connect, have been launched at a reception at the Culloden Estate & Spa. The awards, now in their second year, will be held at the same venue on Thursday May2, with a closing date for entries on Friday March 29.

The awards, held for the first time in 2023, have been extended from 12 to 16 categories. Sectoral awards cover areas from hospitality and tourism to manufacturing and from food and drink to retail. Other awards will spotlight innovation, transport, construction and development as well as honouring the top teams, top individuals and top companies in the field here in Northern Ireland.

An independent judging panel will meet in April to make its decisions. Among those on the panel are Dr. Marc Scott, Sustainability Education Lead at Ulster University, and RenewableNI Director Steven Agnew.

An impressive line-up of category sponsors is already on board for the 2024 Awards, among them Bank of Ireland, Queen’s University Business School, Maxol, CBRE, Alpha, Honeycomb, Diageo, Fleet Financial and The Agnew Group.

Visit for entry details.

XR Arts
Launching the Belfast XR Festival (BXRF), an annual gathering for the XR arts - storytelling, visual arts, music, drama, dance, literature and theatre, taking place on February 28 & 29. (Jim Corr Photography/Jim Corr Photography)


An innovative arts festival is set to once again merge technology and art to create a unique virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) experience for attendees.

Belfast XR, now in its third year, specialises in curating world class immersive technology content that takes the art of storytelling to a new level.

Extended Reality or ‘XR’ is the collective name for virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). VR is a computer-generated artificial environment with scenes that appear to be real, while AR is a digital overlay onto the real world, which is viewed through your phone or an iPad.

Deepa Mann-Kler, director and curator for Belfast XR Festival which is an annual gathering for the XR arts - storytelling, visual arts, music, drama, dance, literature and theatre, said bringing virtual and augmented reality content to new audiences locally is something the team at Belfast XR are passionate about.

Running on Wednesday February 28 and Thursday 29 this year’s festival theme is Legacy which will offer attendees the chance to experience world history in captivating ways allowing audiences to step into the past, interact with historical figures, and explore significant events firsthand.

Belfast XR Festival is both for XR enthusiasts and those who haven’t experienced any form of XR in the past.

The Belfast XR Festival is supported by the National Lottery through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. It is also supported by Digital Catapult NI, Future Screens NI, Ulster Screen Academy and NI Screen.

For more information follow Belfast XR Festival on social media or go to

Launching the venture capital conference are HayesCulleton Group managing director Susan HayesCulleton, Margaret Hearty chief executive of InterTradeIreland and co-founder of Scileads Laura Haldane


The 23rd InterTradeIreland All-Island Venture Capital Conference is returning to Belfast for the first time since 2020. The one-day conference will take place at Titanic Belfast on Tuesday March 5 from 9am to 3pm.

This unique event connects early-stage and start-up businesses with investors and business angels from across the equity ecosystem on the island of Ireland – and anyone with an interest in venture capital. As well as hearing from founders about their start-up and scaling success stories, attendees will get insights from and network with fund managers and other like-minded entrepreneurs.

Hosted by award winning author, speaker, and co-founder of “The Positive Economist”, Susan HayesCulleton, this is a unique event for businesses from across the island of Ireland with still plenty of time to register online, free of charge.

Keynote speaker at the conference is Laura Haldane, co-founder and head of sales & marketing of leading market intelligence platform SciLeads who were previously named NI regional finalist in the 2015 InterTradeIreland Investor Readiness Seedcorn Awards.

SciLeads is one of Northern Ireland’s fastest growing companies and was ranked number 10 in the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 awards in 2023.

Other speakers include Deirdre O’Neill, CCO and co-founder of Hertility, an award winning Irish FemTech startup. Northern Ireland based venture capital funds Techstart Ventures, Clarendon Fund Managers and HBAN will also take to the stage with tips on how to pitch successfully and what investors are really looking for.

This year marks InterTradeIreland’s 25th anniversary supporting businesses across the island to grow through trading cross-border, innovating, collaborating, attracting investment and making connections.

For the full programme and to register free of charge for the InterTradeIreland Venture Capital Conference, visit: