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Launched in May 2021, Innovation City Belfast’s (ICB) founding ambition is to build on the city’s already impressive tech and research strengths to create a world-class hub for innovation across FinTech, Green Tech and Life & Health Sciences, aligned to the government’s 10X Vision.
A dynamic partnership combining six of the city’s anchor institutions (Belfast City Council, Belfast Harbour, Catalyst, Queen’s University and Ulster University, with Invest NI as advisory partner), ICB is harnessing considerable knowledge, resources, networks and influence to attract and unlock capital and investment which will help SMEs grow, scale, and compete through innovation.
The ICB ecosystem’s foundations rest on a planned Innovation District, a Smart District and a Smart Port for Belfast. The extensive city geography gives the scale required to ensure that both citizens and businesses can access digital innovation to solve societal and green challenges, for example, around mobility and healthcare and improve socio-economic outcomes.
Titanic Quarter ICB
By leveraging the forthcoming £350m Belfast Region City Deal investment and focusing on the training and skills required to boost our talent pipeline, ICB will help to deliver new and better jobs – it will also lobby for increased government investment; addressing some of NI’s economic underperformance relative to other parts of the UK.
Leading the charge for ICB is Professor Mark Gillan, a Chartered Engineer, Fellow of the Royal Aero Society and NI Chamber of Commerce Board Member. Mark started his career in aerospace and spent 15 years in various Formula One engineering leadership roles. Prior to joining ICB Mark was Chief Operations Officer for Artemis Technologies, leading the decarbonisation of the maritime sector and Programme Director for the Belfast Maritime Consortium’s UKRI funded Strength in Places Programme, focused on developing zero emissions passenger ferries. Mark also brings experience gained as Innovate UK’s Chief Technology Officer.
Prof Mark Gillan and Clare Guinness ICB
Working with Mark, and tasked with growing and developing Belfast’s Innovation District, is Clare Guinness, a finance graduate and Institute of Directors Fellow who brings experience in finance, banking, real estate, and infrastructure. Clare will bring a laser-focus to the 400 acre of real estate devoted to the Innovation District, stretching from Queen’s Island to York Street. It’s due to benefit from over £200m of Belfast Region City Deal investment, as the Global Innovation Institute, Centre for Digital Healthcare Technology and Screen Media Innovation Lab will be key developments in the district.
Clare Guinness Innovation District Director
ICB will leverage these investments to attract further capital and backing, enabling Belfast’s Innovation District to become a true powerhouse for the NI economy. The partnership will support Invest NI in attracting strategic, innovative FDI, whilst another central strand of the portfolio will be to ensure our SME’s have ready access to, and benefit from, the significant research and intellectual capability that the Innovation District will champion.
To keep up to date with ICB, see https://smartbelfast.city/innovation-city-belfast/ and follow @ICBelfast