Digital DNA moves all events online for 2020

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The host of Northern Ireland’s biggest tech events has announced that they will be taking their major tech Awards and Conference virtual this year due to the continued uncertainty around large indoor gatherings. 

The Digital DNA Awards and Digital DNA 2020 had been rescheduled from their traditional dates in March and June due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But with uncertainty remaining for the rest of the year and capacity in venues being significantly limited, the team behind the hugely successful tech events in NI have made the decision to move online for 2020. 

The Digital DNA Awards, sponsored by MCS Group, were scheduled to take place in March and organisers had been expecting over 650 guests to attend the highly anticipated awards ceremony, celebrating the very best of the NI tech community. Whilst Digital DNA 2020 had originally been scheduled to take place in June in the iconic St George’s Market. The event is once again sponsored by PwC NI and regularly attracts upwards of 3,000 delegates, the biggest gathering of business and technology professionals in NI.

In-person experience to be “restrictive”

Looking ahead to the rest of the year and with social distancing measures and restrictions likely to still be in place, Digital DNA CEO, Simon Bailie has said that the experience for people attending in-person events would be somewhat “restrictive” and “fall way short” of their own high expectations for hosting the much anticipated events, which regularly attract over 3,000 delegates and are must attend events for many of the regions tech and business professionals. 

“Back in March, the right thing to do was to reschedule our in-person events to later in the year as the safety of our attendees, partners and staff was of paramount importance. What has become clear in recent weeks is that there still remains a great deal of uncertainty around large indoor gatherings for the weeks and months ahead.” said Mr Bailie.

“With so many of us having to reimagine how we adapt and navigate the way we work, taking the biggest tech events in NI online feels like a natural progression for us. Digital DNA is very much about pushing the boundaries of what is possible, therefore the opportunity to deliver what we do best in the virtual world is one we are very excited about.”

The Show must go on

The Digital DNA Awards were only 2-weeks away when organisers made the decision to effectively “put them in deep freeze”, just as lockdown restrictions were being rolled out across the country and large swathes of the world in mid-late March.

With the awards now being presented virtually, the organisers hope it will provide a moment to take stock and celebrate the success of the local tech community in Northern Ireland. It will also provide an opportunity for many people who would normally not have been able to attend to follow proceedings online, with several international companies expecting their US offices to tune in and follow proceedings via the live stream.

The event is in partnership with MCS Group and commenting on the new format, Sean Devlin, Associate Director has said that MCS “cannot wait” to see how the team at Digital DNA deliver this years awards and are looking forward to being part of “highlighting all that is good about the industry in Northern Ireland right now.”

Mr Devlin added, “Clearly the world has changed significantly since March, but one thing that has stayed consistent is the ability of NI’s Tech Sector to step up to the mark and consistently compete on a global level. MCS Group have had the privilege of witnessing first-hand both exceptional local leadership and the grit and determination of the people in the sector as they embraced change while delivering exceptional results to their respective customers. We are delighted to be headline sponsors for the Digital DNA awards once again this year as we celebrate the best and the brightest in Northern Ireland’s thriving Technology Sector.”

First of its kind event for NI

Whilst the Digital DNA Awards may only need to be “thawed out”, the flagship event of Digital DNA’s calendar has been completely “reimagined” for the post Covid-19 world. 

On making Digital DNA 2020 uniquely different, Simon Bailie continued by saying, “A big part of what makes Digital DNA special is its ability to bring such a large number of people from all corners of the tech industry in NI together under one roof. Reimagining how we do this in a virtual world and differentiating ourselves from the multitude of “zoom webinars” out there has been our biggest challenge. But working closely with our partners, we believe we have a uniquely different proposition that we are genuinely excited about.”

For the third year running, PwC is the headline partner, and Lynne Rainey, PwC Partner,

says the changing nature of work underlines the importance of promoting the local digital


“As the pace of change in the world of work accelerates as a result of the global pandemic,

it’s critical to highlight the range of opportunities in the digital sector. We know how important

this industry will be to our recovery and it’s more important now than ever that we meet

disruption with a desire to find opportunity.

“It’s no surprise that there’s huge ambition to transform this year’s event to do justice to the

ingenuity and innovation that Northern Ireland’s tech sector is known for. We’re delighted to

partner with a team which is as passionate about showcasing what we can offer to the rest

of the world as we are.”

The online edition of Digital DNA 2020 promises to be the ‘first of its kind in NI’, that will be broadcast live from Belfast to an online audience in NI and beyond, with organisers saying it will “provide a much-needed shop-window into what makes NI such a special place to do business and to showcase the amazing tech talent we have in this region.”


Notes for Editors

The Digital DNA Awards will be streamed live on Thursday 27th August at 1630 GMT and will be free to view. Digital DNA 2020 will take place on Wednesday 11th November and Thursday 12th November and registration will open in the coming weeks. More details can be found on the Digital DNA website, digitaldna.tech.

About PwC NI

At PwC, our purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems. We’re a network of firms in 158 countries with more than 250,000 people who are committed to delivering quality in assurance, advisory and tax services. Find out more and tell us what matters to you by visiting us at www.pwc.com.

PwC refers to the PwC network and/or one or more of its member firms, each of which is a separate legal entity. Please see www.pwc.com/structure for further details.

About MCS Group 

MCS Group is a leading professional recruitment services company based in Belfast. MCS Group work with 98% of NI’s leading tech employers, from large foreign direct investment (FDI) organisations to successful, locally owned technology firms, connecting talented professionals with the best career opportunities.

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