Case Study: Seeding an innovation ecosystem in the Belfast City Region

Between 2016 and 2018, Connected Places Catapult supported place leaders in Belfast to grow in confidence and create new opportunities for businesses, leading to a successful bid for a Belfast City Region Deal that will deliver £2 billion in additional GVA and 10,000 new jobs.  

Early in 2016, Connected Places Catapult worked with Belfast City Council to run an innovative procurement call (SBRI) to identify new ways for city to maximise business rates capture. The project funded four companies, resulting in the creation of innovative tools by two UK firms, and the identification of more than £1 million additional annual revenues for the council.  

From this foundation, Connected Places Catapult worked with Belfast to create the Smart Belfast Framework. This outlined a further set of city challenges and opportunities from tourism to environmental services, transport and more. 300 firms attended the launch and 75 businesses are now involved in this growing market.  

Building on our trusted relationship with the city council, Connected Places Catapult was then invited by the city to drive development of an ambitious, robustly evidenced plan for the economic development of the region.  

Connected Places Catapult’s CEO, Nicola Yates OBE, chaired the digital and innovation workstream, bringing together six councils, two universities and a range of private sector allies, to develop the Belfast Regional City Deal. Significant effort was needed to bring the region’s diverse assets and actors into alignment around a shared vision and set of propositions.  

The deal which emerged secured £500 million of investment in the region’s digital and innovation economy, comprising the largest City Deal investment to date and over £150 million of private investment from the likes of Catalyst Inc, Caterpillar, Ryobi, Bombardier,  GSK, Belfast Harbour and BAE Systems and others.  

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