Building our Digital and Innovation Capability

The Belfast Region City Deal is a catalyst for a step change in the digital and innovation capabilities of our region. 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.


Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University have collaborated extensively to develop proposals for global centres of innovation excellence. Investments in innovation will be targeted to build upon the research strengths of our local universities, aligned to sectors that are demonstrating the potential for exceptional growth. The Deal will invest more than £300 million in five industry-led centres of excellence, focusing on the industries of the future, providing new tools and utilising data insights to support increased productivity and business competitiveness.

AMIC outside

AMIC - Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre

Providing the springboard for manufacturing innovation in NI, providing a specialised environment for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering sectors to access the very latest manufacturing technology and Industry 4.0 smart automation, supported by experienced, professional engineers and a state-of-the-art Factory of the Future.
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CDHT - Centre for Digital Healthcare Technology

CDHT will provide a world-class space for academia, industry and clinicians to innovate and boost the productivity of the life and health sciences sector by accelerating the development of medical technology devices and diagnostics. Technology, Community and Clinical Living Labs will be based beside the Ulster University Belfast campus and at the Royal Victoria Hospital.
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IR Health building

iREACH Health - Institute for Research Excellence in Advanced Clinical Healthcare

iREACH is an integrated clinical research centre of excellence, iREACH is an NHS, industry, and research facility. It will transform the region’s ability to test new drugs, medical-technology, care pathways and societal interventions. It will leverage the opportunities that exist at the interface of medical research and digital transformation.
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Momentum One Zero

Momentum One Zero is a unique combination of expertise, combined with a ground- breaking partnership approach to delivering scalable computing solutions. It is aiming to transform NI’s digital economy by substantially increasing both the volume and range of digital innovation taking place within the region, and developing skill sets to meet industry needs, focussing on health and agri-food.
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Studio Ulster

Studio Ulster will provide a large-scale Virtual Production studio complex to include world-class commercial Virtual Production stages, fully supported by an integrated research, development and innovation centre of excellence in real-time and Virtual Production. Studio Ulster will drive a revolution in production pipelines across converging sectors.
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Digital Programme

Technological innovation is one of the most powerful drivers of increased wealth, productivity and improved well-being. Our Digital Programme of investment will play a critical role in contributing to economic inclusion and sustainable growth. In recognition of the pace of technological and societal change, we have developed a challenge-led, long-term, flexible Digital Programme to maximise the parallel investments in the universities’ centres of excellence and focus on those areas where the region can be distinctive and competitive.

The Deal will invest £125 million in the Digital Programme which will include the following key interventions:

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The Belfast Region Innovation Challenge Fund

A £55 million Fund will provide an agile funding environment to address the emerging needs and unique characteristics of the region and be designed to stimulate collaborative innovation and investment.

The fund will stimulate innovation to address the region’s ‘Grand Challenges’ of (i) artificial intelligence and data, (ii) health and wellbeing and (iii) sustainability and resilience.

Funding opportunities are likely to include a range of financial instruments including capital grants, small business research initiatives, challenge prizes and equity/debt investments.

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Enabling Infrastructure

£40 million of funding in enabling infrastructure will stimulate the conditions for innovation and business growth by targeting investment in digital connectivity (including advanced wireless), data infrastructure and other enabling infrastructure to support the Belfast Smart District and wider regional innovation.

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Regional Innovation Hubs

£30 million of investment will deliver a series of Innovation Hubs across the region. The Hubs will build upon and leverage existing sectoral strengths including cleantech and creative industries in order to promote innovation activity and new business growth across the region via local hubs.


Augment the City

Major new funding competition to support local SMEs to innovate in immersive technologies to enhance the visitor experience.
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Render of the new i4c building in Ballymena

i4C Innovation and CleanTech Centre

I4C, a Regional Innovation Hub in Ballymena, will provide a physical base and support to increase levels of SME innovation and commercialisation activity. It will also provide skills and training solutions in the cleantech sector including the Hydrogen Training Academy.
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Shed 1.0

Ards and North Down Borough Council is in the process of working towards a state of the art innovation space, Shed 1.0, that will incorporate high quality, digitally advanced co-making space.
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Design Smarter Digital Twin Centre

The Digital Twin Centre, led by Digital Catapult, will provide common, shared physical and digital infrastructure to support the development of digital twins, elements of which include common data architecture, tools, models, software, systems and hardware. The centre will initially focus in sectors including maritime, aerospace & defence but have the capability and plans to explore other sectors.
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