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Northern Ireland’s digital innovator community tackles COVID-19 together

Date: 18 May 2020


Northern Ireland’s digital innovator community tackles COVID-19 together

Belfast City Council has launched a new digital innovation matchmaking service www.CovidConnectNI.com in response to COVID-19.

Belfast City Council has launched a new digital innovation matchmaking service www.CovidConnectNI.com in response to COVID-19.

The pandemic has created a range of challenges for public, voluntary and community sector organisations, many of which require the innovative use of digital technology to continue to deliver their critical services or to develop a new COVID-19 project. 

The COVID Connect NI website matches the digital innovation expertise of local businesses with the immediate needs of public, community and voluntary organisations that are tackling COVID-19 across Northern Ireland. 

Belfast Lord Mayor, Councillor Daniel Baker said: “The idea came about because we were receiving fantastic offers of help from our innovator community and lots of calls for help from those delivering key services during this crisis. Organisations are feeling the strain at the moment and, for some problems, digital can provide them with a solution. 

“Belfast has a wealth of digital know-how, so it made perfect sense to match businesses with organisations across the region. Where possible, we hope that support can be offered on a pro bono or discounted basis. I’d encourage any organisation that feels it has something to offer, or that needs this kind of technical help, to register at www.CovidConnectNI.com.”

Leading organisations including EY, All State, Amazon Web Services, Analytics Engines, BT, Deloitte, Digital Catapult NI, Farset Labs, KMPG, Microsoft, PwC and Salesforce have already pledged their support. They will be working with organisations to provide services and expertise in areas such as data analytics, software development, and digital connectivity. 

Dr Rob Grundy, Chair of Matrix, the Northern Ireland Science Industry Panel, said: “The current crisis is affecting everyone and to get through it we need to work together as effectively as possible. There is such a wealth of digital talent in Belfast and it’s great to see the innovator community collaborating to make such a positive contribution.” 

Seamus McAleavey chief executive of NICVA, the umbrella body of the region’s voluntary and community sector, welcomed the initiative: “It’s a challenging time for the voluntary and community sector who are in many ways at the forefront of the response to the COVID crisis. As organisations work through the process of adapting how they operate, this kind of specialist support from experts is a timely initiative. Organisations that have developed a clear sense of how a digital solution will help meet their challenge will be able to seek help on the platform.” 

The new service is based on software developed by Belfast company, Xpand, who had already been working with Belfast City Council’s City Innovation Team over the past year on an SME engagement and market analysis platform. The website also provides information on COVID-19 funding opportunities and online events, as well as resources to help with data-driven projects. For more information, go to www.CovidConnectNI.com.

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