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Sparking an innovation cluster in the Belfast City Region

To fulfil our ambition to make Belfast a more vibrant and prosperous city for all, we need the active support, involvement and contributions of many partners. We welcomed working with Connected Places Catapult to explore and develop the technologies, services, expertise, projects and ideas that could contribute to this

Deborah Colville
Manager at Belfast City Council

Connected Places Catapult has been supporting place leaders in Belfast to create new opportunities for businesses since 2016, resulting in a successful bid for a City Region Deal which is forecast to deliver £2 billion in additional GVA and 10,000 new jobs.

In 2016 the Catapult began equipping local leaders to harness public procurement as a lever to spark innovation and private sector investment. The first collaboration identified innovative ways to maximise business rates collection leading to the development of innovative tools by two UK firms and the identification of approximately £1 million additional annual revenues for the council. Both firms subsequently scaled their products to new customers.

The Smart Belfast Framework, developed by the Catapult for the city, outlined five further challenge-based commercial opportunities. Belfast has now run 47 challenges covering urban mobility, healthy living, air quality, tourism, economic development and the pandemic.

More than 200 businesses have been engaged, benefitting from access to customers, product demonstration and commercial contracts.

Belfast then asked Connected Places Catapult to drive the development of an ambitious, robustly evidenced plan for the economic development of the region.

Six local authorities, two universities and the private sector came together with the help of Connected Places Catapult to develop the City Region Deal. This deal secured £500 million of investment in the region’s digital and innovation economy, including over £150 million of private investment from Catalyst Inc, Caterpillar, Ryobi, Bombardier, GSK, Belfast Harbour and BAE Systems and others.

Connected Places Catapult is now scaling its support to more parts of the UK through the Place Innovation Leadership Network and strategic partnership with the Innovation Districts Network.

impact on GVA forecast
new jobs
firms have taken part across 47 Civic Innovation Challenges since 2016, demonstrating innovative solutions in live settings and connecting with customers
private sector investment into the digital and innovation economy