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 - Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre
CDHT - Centre for Digital Healthcare Technology
GII - Global Innovation Institute
iREACH - Institute for Research Excellence in Advanced Clinical Healthcare
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:
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.
£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.
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.