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Local SMEs encouraged to tackle urban challenges with new fund

14 Aug 2017

Belfast City Council and Invest Northern Ireland are launching the Collaborative Challenge scheme to encourage SMEs to work together to develop innovative solutions to urban challenges in Belfast in the areas of transportation, tourism, circular economy, building management and health.

The Collaborative Challenge is part of the Smart Belfast framework and will give groups the opportunity to access up to £25,000 of funding.

The framework, due to be launched at Belfast City Hall on Tuesday, 26 September, has been developed to build on Belfast’s digital sector strengths and to encourage greater innovation and collaboration between local businesses, universities and the public sector to better understand, analyse and tackle urban challenges.

Hosted by Belfast Lord Mayor Councillor Nuala McAllister, and featuring contributions from leading urban technologists, the launch event will also feature a Smart Belfast marketplace, providing opportunities for companies to network and showcase their digital innovations.

The Lord Mayor said: “The Smart Belfast Collaborative Challenge is a really exciting opportunity for businesses which are prepared to collaborate and innovate to succeed. If they’re willing to grapple with these thorny urban challenges and to apply data and new technologies, they stand to benefit from substantial business development potential over the coming decade.

“Glasgow, Dublin, Bristol, and Manchester are already successfully using Smart City frameworks to leverage substantial private sector investment and grant funding so that waste, energy, traffic and water management challenges can be addressed and services for citizens and communities improved.

“Our Belfast Agenda makes a commitment to positioning the city to compete, attracting investment into Belfast and to improving connectivity locally, nationally and internationally. Belfast has a strong digital sector and through the Smart City Framework, we’re harnessing its potential – along with our world leading universities - for the greater good of our city.”

Moira Loughran, Invest NI’s Eastern Regional Manager said: “The ability to work collaboratively to develop innovative solutions to modern day challenges is a key driver of economic competitiveness. Through this partnership with Belfast City Council, we are actively supporting our local SMEs to build on their existing skills and knowledge in order to identify and exploit new markets, products and ways of working together.

“Businesses interested in attending the Smart Belfast framework launch event can register online at www.investni.com/smartbelfast.”

The event takes place at Belfast City Hall on Tuesday, 26 September from 9.30am-11.30am. Registration closes on Friday, 22 September 2017.

Belfast City Hall dome