The Belfast Region City Deal is a catalyst for a step change in our region’s digital and innovation capabilities. It will drive investment in research and development and help embed a culture of innovation to act as a driver for increased productivity. We’re focused on driving investment towards growing and resilient sectors such as Health and Life Sciences, Advanced Manufacturing and Digital and Creative Industries.
Proposals for innovation centres
Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University have collaborated extensively to develop proposals for global centres of innovation excellence in key growth sectors. These will help businesses to leverage our universities’ world-leading expertise to create breakthrough technologies, products and services.
Our Digital Programme of Investment will complement this, helping to create the ecosystem that will maximise the impact of the universities’ new centres of innovation, and encourage translational research into the key industry sectors.
In recognition of the pace of technological and societal change, a challenge-led, long-term flexible Digital Programme has been developed which will maximise the parallel investments in the universities’ centres of excellence and together focus on those areas where the region can be distinctive and competitive. Key interventions within the Digital Programme comprise:
Watch this short video to find out more about our digital investment plans.
The Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (AMIC)
The Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (AMIC) is aimed at securing Northern Ireland’s manufacturing future and will be a springboard for manufacturing innovation.
A state-of-the-art factory of the future is planned as the project’s flagship facility, with an ambition to be Northern Ireland’s national centre for advanced manufacturing. AMIC will have the capability and scale to define and deliver high quality, industry-focused research and development as required by Northern Ireland's advanced manufacturing sectors. It will provide Northern Irish companies with access to the latest manufacturing technologies, as well as facilitating professional engineers with expertise in design and simulation.
The Centre for Digital HealthCare Technology (CDHT)
The Centre for Digital HealthCare Technology (CDHT) will create a high visibility, high quality centre for digital technology and associated living labs that will boost the productivity of Northern Ireland’s healthcare technology sector. The Living Labs will support users to ideate, prototype, develop, test and validate new ideas in cardiology, diabetes, respiratory and stroke within a unique clinical setting.
CDHT will provide a world-class space for academia, industry and clinicians to come together to innovate and boost the Life and Health Sciences sector’s productivity, as well as medical device and related sector activity in Northern Ireland.
The Global Innovation Institute (GII)
GII is a cross-disciplinary digital innovation hub that will build on momentum created by the world-class ECIT (Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology) facility that put Belfast on the map for digital innovation.
The Global Innovation Institute (GII) will be a nexus for co-innovation between researchers and industry in cybersecurity, wireless connectivity and artificial intelligence (AI). It will be a place where local and global companies, entrepreneurs and researchers will come together in a multi-disciplinary innovation environment. Its primary sectoral focus areas will be in health sciences and agri-food. Expertise across these domains will enable GII to adopt a “Digital One Health” approach. As our increasingly connected world creates a data deluge, the GII’s secure, connected intelligence capabilities will become more critical.
The Institute for Research Excellence in Advanced Clinical Healthcare (i-REACH)
The Institute for Research Excellence in Advanced Clinical Healthcare (i-REACH) is an exciting new project for healthcare in Northern Ireland.
It is the outcome of creative collaboration between academia, industry, the NHS and public sector and government stakeholders to drive UK science and innovation, by creating a unique ecosystem for testing new drugs through their development life cycle and integration into care pathways.
Investment in i-REACH will make a transformative difference. Not only will it play a vital role in helping to deliver solutions to long-term health challenges, and deliver public health impact, but a streamlined, world class clinical healthcare institute that accelerate therapies to patients will also attract additional inward investment
Screen Media Innovation Lab (SMIL)
The SMIL project seeks to build on Northern Ireland’s incredible creative industries success. The Screen Media Innovation Lab (SMIL) will provide a Centre of Excellence in Research and Development and Innovation in Virtual Production where academics, researchers and the creative sectors can collaborate using state-of-the-art facilities, helping to both sustain and grow jobs in one of Northern Ireland’s most successful sectors.
SMIL will also provide training and development opportunities to strengthen our talent pipeline, meeting the needs of the sector and boosting our productivity. In conjunction with the Belfast Harbour Film Studio complex, SMIL will drive collaboration in research and development.
The Belfast Region Innovation Challenge Fund
This Belfast Region Innovation Challenge Fund will stimulate innovation through financial instruments, potentially including equity/debt, competitive grants, SBRI and Challenge Prizes. These financial instruments will help to address the fund’s three grand challenges:
Artificial Intelligence and Data
Health and Wellbeing
Sustainability and Resilience
An agile fund, it will respond to the region’s emerging needs and unique characteristics. A series of ‘missions’ will stimulate collaborative innovation and investment and support growth in key industry sectors, as well as helping to address the major public policy challenges.
Investment in enabling infrastructure will stimulate the conditions for innovation and business growth by targeting investment in digital connectivity, data infrastructure and other enabling infrastructure to support the development of a Belfast Smart District and regional connectivity.
The funding will have a particular focus on supporting the rapid availability of advanced wireless networks, given technology’s underpinning role in the future of many commercial and public services across sectors.
Regional innovation hubs
Regional innovation hubs will build upon and leverage existing Belfast Region sectoral strengths to promote innovation activity and new business growth across the region. Each hub will have a specific sectoral focus and purpose.
The hubs will provide local businesses and communities with the space, equipment and capability to pursue innovation projects at small and medium scale and a space where people with shared interests, especially in computing or technology, can gather to work together on projects It will also offer the community access to tools, technology, and social connections that may not be easily accessible otherwise.
i4C Innovation Centre at St Patrick’s Barracks, Ballymena
The i4C proposal involves the construction of a new significant scale innovation and clean technology centre for small and medium-sized enterprises. The centre includes accommodation types to facilitate SME innovation activity such as incubation labs and workshops, Grade A office and co-working office space as well as meeting and event spaces to encourage open innovation and collaboration.
The Innovation Lab (iLAB) at i4C also forms a key part of the i4C proposal allowing for engineering staff-led and well-equipped workshop that focuses on developing products, services, training and solutions for the cleantech sector in the emerging hydrogen economy.
Development of the i4C Innovation Centre will also contribute to the tourism and regeneration programme in the Belfast Region City Deal.