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Business and investment

Digital innovation

  • Smart Belfast

    Our Smart Belfast urban innovation programme aims to stimulate collaborative innovation between businesses, industry, academia, public sector, and communities to tackle some of Belfast’s urban challenges.

    Our ambition is to find new ways to harness this innovation to further support Belfast’s transformation into a more productive and sustainable city that provides a rich quality of life for our citizens.

    To find out more about our work, go to Smart Belfast (link opens in a new window).

  • Projects

    Our City Innovation Office is working with partners to deliver a range of innovation projects in Belfast. Some of our current projects include:

    • Belfast HUB-IN
      Our HUB-IN (Hub of Innovation) project along Belfast’s Maritime Mile is exploring how digital innovation can help to sustain, enhance, and preserve the unique heritage of the city’s waterfront. £120,000 of funding has been awarded to six proposals from Belfast’s creative and digital businesses, artists, and innovators to develop interactive visitor experiences to animate and enrich the Maritime Mile.
    • Augment the City Challenge Fund
      We are launching a new £575,000 XR funding competition in spring 2024 to support local SMEs to innovate in immersive technologies and enhance visitor experiences. The fund will enable local innovators to develop prototypes using immersive technologies such as augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality to support organisations that are designing new visitor attractions in Belfast and elsewhere.
    • Belfast 5G Innovation Region programme
      The Belfast region, led by Belfast City Council, has secured £3.8 million of wireless innovation funding from the UK Department for Science, Innovation and Technology and is one of 10 5G Innovation Regions across the UK. The Belfast 5G Innovation Region programme is delivering an exciting range of innovative projects powered by advanced wireless technologies, as well as a 5G grant scheme for SMEs and an Enablement Programme to support the advanced wireless ecosystem in the Belfast region.
  • Innovation City Belfast

    We’re working with Belfast Harbour, Belfast Metropolitan College, Catalyst, Queen’s University Belfast, Ulster University, and advisory partner Invest Northern Ireland to establish Belfast as a globally significant destination for innovation.

    The Innovation City Belfast partnership is driving forward an ambitious agenda for our city’s innovation economy which is a major engine for growth and success.

    For more information, go to Innovation City Belfast website (link opens in a new window) and follow @ICBelfast on Twitter.

  • Urban Innovation Framework

    Digital innovation has an increasingly dominant role to play in urban, social and economic policy.

    We want to find ways to harness this innovation to better support Belfast’s transformation to a more productive and sustainable city that provides a rich quality of life for our citizens.

    First devised in 2017, the Smart Belfast Urban Innovation framework nurtures an environment in which innovators from across industry, academia, the public sector and from our communities can work together to find new ways to address Belfast’s major urban and economic challenges. Smart Belfast is constructed around the concept of ‘urban innovation’. Rather than restrict the idea of innovation to a purely economic or business development agenda, we argue that there is an important, mutually beneficial interplay between growing our innovation economy and exploiting digital innovation to address major urban policy issues. These include the city’s response to climate change, healthy living, sustainable urban mobility and economic transformation.

    Our new framework, which runs to 2026, incorporates many important ideas that have emerged over the past few years, not least of which has been learning from society’s response to the global pandemic.

    We’ve also sought to find ways to maximise the opportunities offered by the £120 million Belfast Region City Deal digital investments that are planned for the coming decade. Our new approach acknowledges the exciting potential of new initiatives such as the Innovation City Belfast partnership.

    Our refreshed framework puts much greater emphasis on the importance of place and place-making to urban innovation - an approach that has resulted in our commitment to a Smart District right in the heart of the city.

    Urban innovation is a collective effort. We can offer a leadership and convening role, but ultimately, partners and communities across the city need to work together to cultivate an urban innovation culture and ecosystem. We’d like to thank everyone who has contributed to Belfast’s Urban Innovation Framework and look forward to working with you to realise our shared ambitions for the city.

    Read our Urban Innovation Framework 2022 to 2026

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