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Belfast places innovation at the heart of economic recovery

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Nico Fell

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Belfast places innovation at the heart of economic recovery


Innovation City Belfast has announced plans to put innovation at the heart of Belfast’s post-pandemic recovery, including establishing an Innovation District and an Innovation Investment Service.

The new partnership, formed by six of the city’s key institutions, aims to accelerate growth in Belfast’s most exciting knowledge economy clusters, while at the same time supporting Belfast to prepare for the impact of innovation.

Innovation City Belfast chair and chief executive of Belfast City Council, Suzanne Wylie said: “Belfast has a proud history of research excellence, a vibrant community of innovators and start-ups and there is significant investment on the horizon through the Belfast Region City Deal. So the city is perfectly positioned to make the most of opportunities presented by innovation – not least by creating more and better jobs and improving quality of life.”

The new partnership, Innovation City Belfast, brings together Belfast City Council, Belfast Harbour, Catalyst, Queen’s University and Ulster University, with Invest Northern Ireland as an advisory partner. They are committed to delivering an ambitious long-term plan that will establish Belfast as a globally significant destination for innovation.

Priorities over the coming year for the partnership are:

• Establishing a major Innovation District from Queen’s Island to York Street to grow Belfast’s innovative SMEs. By building on the city’s strengths in FinTech, GreenTech and HealthTech, the Innovation District will attract high quality investment and provide an environment where the latest research from our universities can be rapidly translated into world-class businesses.

• Working with industry and academia to support tailored programmes that build the local workforce’s skills for new jobs in the digital economy.

• Investing in advanced wireless networks to support Industry 4.0, connected health technologies and next generation public services.

• Establishing an Innovation Investment Service for companies and investors that capitalises on Belfast’s current position as one of the most attractive investment locations in Europe for tech start-ups and FDI.

• Delivering a city-centre focused ‘Smart District’ where new technologies can be developed, tested and deployed to help the city address post-Covid recovery challenges including climate change, urban mobility, the future of the high street and healthy urban living.

• Creating a Smart Port by investing in 5G connectivity and digital technologies, supporting Belfast Harbour to achieve its aim of becoming the world's best regional port and a key economic hub for green growth.

Innovation City Belfast will seek to maximise the impact of the planned £1bn Belfast Region City Deal which will invest £230m in university research centres and £120m in digital innovation. It is also engaging with government and the private sector to make the case for Belfast’s growth potential.

Innovation City Belfast’s ambition has already attracted endorsement from the local private sector and several global tech companies.

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