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Tuesday, 28.05.2024
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The Smart District will be a testbed for ideas and technologies that maximise investment opportunities as well as address the city centre’s key challenges.

Belfast City Council has announced proposals for a Smart District to support the transformation of Belfast city centre, one of several initiatives in its Smart Belfast Urban Innovation Framework.

A consortium bid led by Belfast City Council has also secured funding to develop a plan to support the delivery of green hydrogen technologies in the city.

Smart city testbed

The aim of the innovation framework is to encourage city partners to adopt tools from the digital world, together with research from local universities, to tackle Belfast’s major challenges. The Smart District will be a collaborative testbed for new ideas and technologies that maximise investment opportunities, while directly addressing the challenges associated with the city centre.

“Digital technology is key to the growth of our future economy, but it also offers opportunities to create innovative solutions for tackling major city challenges, such as climate change and healthy urban living,” said councillor Emmet McDonough-Brown, chair of Belfast City Council’s strategic policy and resources committee.

“We’re committed to working with our city’s innovators, researchers, businesses and local communities to use these technologies to deliver new and better services, experiences, jobs and investment opportunities – and a richer quality of life for our citizens, as set out in The Belfast Agenda, the city’s community plan.

“In particular, Belfast’s Smart District will bring this innovation focus to our city centre. “The Smart District will also showcase the best of our city’s amazing innovators in industry and academia to the world.”

“The citizen is at the heart of our plans. It’s important to the success of both the Smart District and our wider approach to urban innovation, that communities are directly involved in identifying the challenges we want to address and in co-designing solutions.”

Belfast City Council’s City Innovation Office is working with partners and industry to attract co-investment for the approach and is tapping into £120m of digital funding from the Belfast Region City Deal.

The investments will enhance the city’s digital infrastructure and provide funding to encourage businesses and academia to collaborate on city challenges. The Smart Belfast Urban Innovation Framework has been endorsed by a range of city leaders.

Hydrogen economy

Funding from the UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Pioneer Places Fund has been secured to develop a pioneering plan to tackle key barriers in the delivery of green hydrogen technologies in the city. The Net Zero Belfast project will have a geographical focus on the Innovation District and will be led in partnership with Catagen and Artemis Technologies along with support from Belfast Met, Queens University and Ulster University.

“Belfast is uniquely positioned to produce green hydrogen due to its abundant wind resources, storage capacity and a hydrogen ready gas network," said chair of council’s Climate and City Resilience Committee councillor Séanna Walsh

“At a time when there is a pressing need to decarbonise and step away from our reliance on fossil fuels, this funding will enable us to develop and unlock new green hydrogen technologies within the Innovation District.”

The Innovation District comprises 400 acres of the city and is home to Belfast Airport, Belfast Port, international manufacturing businesses, indigenous Greentech companies, academic research, and education centres. It spans from Ulster University’s new campus in the city centre to Queen’s University research centre at Queen’s Island in the Harbour Estate.

Councillor Walsh added: “The results of the project will ultimately provide assurances on the performance, safety, and suitability of the fuel for use in the Innovation District, Belfast and beyond.

“The results will remove uncertainties, while new standard practices will enable the measurement and evidence of low carbon manufacturing in our city. This will give confidence to consumers and society of its use, create opportunities that encourage participation in the green economy and enable scaling alongside the adoption of new technology across the region.”

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Quelle/Source: SmartCitiesWorld, 15.02.2023

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