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Smart Belfast

Smart Belfast Supporting Urban Innovation

The Smart Belfast framework is about harnessing new technologies and data science in ways that support local economic growth while also contributing to outcomes for people as set out in our Belfast Agenda.

It seeks to build on our city’s growing strengths in the digital sector to foster an environment in which local businesses, innovators and universities can experiment and build great products for twenty-first century cities.

We have been working with partners, and the Future Cities Catapult, to develop these ideas whilst also drawing on practice from other places. Glasgow, Dublin, Bristol and Manchester are already successfully using such frameworks to:

  • deliver innovative joint projects that are making substantial contributions to urban challenges such as waste, tourism, energy, traffic and waste management.
  • transform public services for citizens and communities.
  • leverage private sector investment and grant funding.
  • provide a welcoming environment for local SMEs and entrepreneurs to innovate.

The framework

The framework sets out a number of proposals:

  • guiding principles for a Smart Belfast
  • four foundations needed to deliver collaborative innovation
  • a roadmap describing the necessary resources and activities
  • a pipeline of Smart Belfast projects that can strengthen these foundations while addressing real-world challenges such as transport, health, tourism, circular economy, jobs and skills.

While developing our framework we also delivered demonstrator projects to test our ideas. We launched our framework on Tuesday, 26 September 2017 at City Hall. Our special guest was Carl Piva, Global Lead at TM Forum. 

The Smart Belfast foundations

The Smart Belfast framework aims to grown the city’s strengths in four areas:

  1. Shared understanding of city challenges: Partners need to find new ways to work together to understand and analyse shared problems. There is the opportunity to adopt innovative ‘design-led’ approaches from industry.
  2. An engaged innovator community: If we want to co-opt the local SME sector and our universities to tackle challenges together, we need to find new ways of doing this beyond traditional procurement channels such as Small Business Research Initiatives, R&D collaborative agreements, social innovation programmes, competitions, joint investment vehicles.
  3. Building city data assets: In a modern knowledge economy access to data is as an important an economic resource as access to financing or workforce skills. Partners in a smart city need to get much more sophisticated in how they generate, manage and store public data safely and securely.
  4. Robust delivery mechanisms: City partners need to find new ways of attracting investment; co-opting the support of partners; and designing agile delivery mechanisms that can develop ideas, test them and rapidly scale proven successes in timescales that are measured in weeks rather than months.

Smart Belfast Collaborative Challenge

We launched the ‘Smart Belfast Collaborative Challenge’ with Invest NI on 26 September 2017 with a closing date of 6 November 2017.

Aimed at SMEs, the Challenge provides funding and expertise to Northern Ireland companies that want to enhance their competitive edge by working together to address challenges that Belfast and other cities are facing today.

Initially, £25,000 will be available for up to eight networks seeking to explore innovation in:

You can find out more details about each challenge by downloading the individual packs above or the combined challenge briefing pack (PDF - 4.33MB). 

More information

If you want to find out more about Smart Belfast, email us at 

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