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  • Augment the City Challenge Fund

    We launched a new £575,000 XR challenge competition in spring 2024 to help SMEs innovate in immersive technologies and enhance visitor experiences. With funding from the Belfast Region City Deal, Augment the City is enabling innovators to develop prototypes using immersive technologies such as augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality to support organisations designing new visitor attractions in Belfast and elsewhere in the region.

    Augment the City challenge competition winners

    In phase one of the competition, we awarded ten applicants £10,000 each to develop their ideas. The successful applicants are:

    Belfast Stories Generator

    Hamilton Robson will combine AI and immersive tech to create an accessible, interactive platform for exploring the city's vibrant history and culture. 

    Echoes of Belfast

    Imvizar will focus on location-based AR to recreate and share Belfast's historical and contemporary narratives. This initiative will create a dynamic story engine, allowing anyone with a story the opportunity to have their voice heard using immersive technology.  

    Yarns, Craic, and Danders

    Darin Smyth will utilise AI, Metahumans, AR, and game engine technology to create immersive experiences in interactive booths and a complementary AR guide. These experiences will enhance exploratory walks and inspire users to engage with and discover the city's rich stories. 


     Aura Digital Studios will help to empower the deaf and hearing-impaired community to share their stories both locally and globally using haptics and AR technologies in a dedicated physical space equipped for motion capture, via a mobile app using AR, and through a network of visual triggers and QR codes guiding an independent walking tour across Belfast, linking audiences to site-specific performances.  

    Belfast Memory Machine

    SENSEcity will develop an AI-Powered Immersive Storytelling Experience using advanced technology to capture the rich tapestry of Belfast's stories from lesser heard voices. Participant storytellers will be provided with 3D-printed miniaturised models of Belfast buildings and landmarks, e-ink displays, and a smart microphone, all providing a tactile and interactive experience, while they narrate their stories.  


    Liquid City will develop an AI-powered interviewer, archivist, curator, and broadcaster accessible on social media, the web, mixed reality, and in a visitor centre.  


    Animorph will develop an innovative platform to allow residents to create and share immersive storytelling experiences using their smartphones in an interactive treasure hunt. Designated areas in Belfast will become Storyfields where users ‘plant’ their personal stories and discover stories planted by other people.

    Belfast Back Beats

    Co-operative Innovations and The Performance Corporation is an artistic technology collaboration aiming to develop interactive virtual environments to showcase transformative moments in Belfast's performing arts and music scene, integrating real-world artefacts into virtual environments providing tangible connections to the city’s cultural history.


    Neurotech and Belfast Hidden Tours, in collaboration with artist Mark Mullan, will create an interactive mythology and history tour app, allowing users to experience first-person stories, and contribute their own narratives, thoughts, and reactions. The project will have a particular focus on children and young people, including those who are neurodiverse or have other accessibility needs.

    Memory Fractal

    Ekaterina Solomatina will combine mixed reality and 5G technology to create a narrative sculpture, offering a new way of digital storytelling about the city’s vibrant artistic heritage. As well as visitors experiencing the space they are physically in, they will interact with virtual 3D-scanned and AI, community-generated sculptures.

    Augment the City Challenge Fund later phases

    In phase two of the competition, five of the companies will receive a further £35,000 to develop their concepts. In phase three of the competition, three of the companies will receive a further £100,000 to develop their products.

  • Extended Reality (XR) Belfast

    We’re supporting people working in Belfast’s innovation and creative industries sectors to build their capacity in using emerging technologies (with a focus on immersive), so they can access funding and finance opportunities for product development and prototyping.

  • Creative Capacity

    We’re working with Digital Catapult NI to offer two free Creative Capacity sessions, aimed at a broad range of Belfast based SMEs, from those working on sports science, tourism and cultural projects, to manufacturing and engineering.

    You’ll hear inspiring stories and case studies from a mix of Global XR brand leaders and NI based creative industry start-ups. They’ll give a unique insight into the exciting world of Immersive Technology, an understanding of the tools and skills required to create compelling, successful Immersive Technology projects across a range of sectors - and how you can apply them to your business.

    We’ll cover next-generation interfaces, XR workflows and give the inside track on how immersive tech giants and local businesses are already working with major companies, SMEs and creatives to put this technology into real use cases. You’ll also have the chance to try some amazing immersive experiences for yourself.

  • Creative Mentorship programme

    You might be working in graphic design, illustration, advertising, animation or gaming, or with 2D or 3D design via CAD software, but haven't yet realised how implementing AR, VR or MR workflows could enhance your business. 

    Following the Creative Capacity sessions, Digital Catapult will provide the opportunity for a limited number of businesses who have attended to pursue one-to-one mentoring.  It’s an opportunity to delve deeper into Immersive Technology and how it can make a difference to your projects or working practices through efficiencies, cost savings and marketing impact, and more.

    We’ll share further details at the Creative Capacity sessions.

  • Belfast HUB-IN Challenge Fund

    The fund awarded £120,000 to six proposals from Belfast's creative and digital businesses, artists, and innovators to develop innovative visitor experiences that will animate and enrich the city’s Maritime Mile (link opens in new window).

    They will collaborate with heritage organisations and communities along the Maritime Mile in early 2024 to develop prototypes which use technologies such as augmented reality, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence, to encourage more visitors and local people to explore the historic area which connects attractions, sculptures and viewing points on both sides of the River Lagan. 

    The projects are part of the Belfast HUB-IN (Hub of Innovation) programme, developed by our City Innovation Office in partnership with the Maritime Belfast Trust and funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 initiative to explore how digital innovation can help to sustain, enhance, and preserve the Maritime Mile’s rich and unique heritage. 

    To read more information on the Belfast HUB-IN, go to Smart Belfast City (link opens in new link).

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