A City or Growth Deal is a bespoke package of funding and decision-making powers negotiated between government and local authorities. They are aimed at helping to harness additional investment, create new jobs and speed up inclusive and sustainable economic growth.
Over the next ten years, Northern Ireland will benefit from a transformational package of investment from four City and Growth Deals. The combined funding, from the Northern Ireland Executive and UK government will total £1.2bn, which will be complemented by private sector and other sources of funding such as the £100m Complementary Fund from the Northern Ireland Executive.
City & Growth Deals will be a driver of innovation and growth across Northern Ireland with the investments multi-faceted as they link industrial, societal, and regional challenges in a comprehensive and inclusive way helping to raise productivity and driving competitiveness across Northern Ireland. The Deals will establish the necessary infrastructure to connect businesses at all levels to new ideas and technologies.
These significant investments will help create global centres of innovation excellence in key growth sectors. They will provide opportunities for businesses, located both in and outside Northern Ireland, to collaborate and tap into the world-leading expertise of our universities to create breakthrough technologies, products and services. Additionally, they will develop the infrastructure and facilities that will allow the next generation of products to be trialled and tested.
The innovation and digital projects identified for City and Growth Deals funding will act as a “golden thread” linking to the key ambitions of the Department for the Economy’s 10X Economic Vision through delivering greater innovation, sustainability, and inclusivity for all people in Northern Ireland.
In order to support the implementation of the deals, Northern Ireland’s council areas have been amalgamated into four regions:
- Belfast Region City Deal
- Derry City & Strabane City Deal
- Mid South West Growth Deal
- Causeway Coast & Glens Growth Deal
Belfast Region City Deal
The below are examples of some of the centres of excellence being developed:
GII will be a nexus for co-innovation between researchers and industry in data security, connectivity and analytics. In an increasingly connected world, with vast amounts of data, the need for secure and connected intelligence will become ever more critical.
GII will provide the opportunity for local and international companies, entrepreneurs and researchers to come together in a multi-disciplinary innovation environment.
CDHT will be an exemplary centre for digital technology and associated living labs in the areas of cardiology, diabetes, respiratory and stroke.
CDHT will provide a world-class space for academia, industry and clinicians to come together to lead on research focused on many of the world’s key health challenges, including rising healthcare costs and healthy ageing.
iREACH Health is a collaboration between academia, industry, the NHS and government to create a unique ecosystem for testing new drugs through their development life cycle and integration into care pathways.
iREACH Health will strengthen the Belfast region’s capability for clinical trials and increase its capacity to take on larger and more complex trial studies whilst committed to establishing research excellence in advanced clinical healthcare in Northern Ireland.
AMIC will be the springboard for manufacturing innovation in the region.
AMIC will operate at the interface between academia and industry and will ensure that real-world industrial challenges based on market need are solved through innovative research.
The vision for Studio Ulster is to become established as a ‘Tier 1’ centre of excellence in R&D and innovation in Virtual Production, a rapidly developing suite of technologies and methodologies for screen content production, where the physical and digital worlds meet.
Studio Ulster will help to maximise the benefits of the creative sector of the region by providing a dedicated physical infrastructure to support the rapidly expanding activity across various creative industries. The project, led by the Ulster University, will specialise in creatively led, technologically-driven production and research and development in four key strands: film, animation, immersive (augmented reality/virtual reality/mixed reality) and gaming.
Derry~Londonderry and Strabane Region City Deal
The following projects are being developed under the innovation, digital and health theme:
CIDRA will have highly specialist robotics equipment and an ideas factory for R&D for new businesses and will assist companies develop in the expertise needed to compete in the 4th industrial revolution.
This state-of-the-art facility will be a dedicated demonstration space for robotics, automation and AI, and an experimentation and skills development industry hub. It aims to be an “ideas factory” for R&D in new businesses and an advanced support facility for local and international industry.
CARL will deliver world-class cognitive analytics research capability that can be applied to a range of sectors, including health, fintech, media, energy and public policy.
The lab will work at the intersection of AI and big data and have a high-performance computing facility, servers, laboratories and offices. The facility will enable close collaboration between industry and academia and will educate businesses on how to adopt AI for their industry needs.
The Personalised Medicine Centre is a visionary healthcare project that will meet urgent local and global healthcare needs by embracing the potential of personalised medicine.
The Personalised Medicine Centre will feature several different elements:
- A healthcare research institute
- A community-owned healthcare company
- Life-changing research in areas including cancer and stroke
- The beginning of the transformation of the health service.
Mid South West Growth Deal
The Mid South West Growth Deal covers three councils: Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon; Fermanagh and Omagh; and Mid Ulster.
The region has developed an ambitious Regional Economic Strategy which promises to transform the region. The growth deal will contribute to and support: future proofing the skills base; enabling infrastructure; boosting innovation; digital capacity; and building a high performing tourism economy. The potential areas for investment include innovation, transport, regeneration and heritage.
Causeway Coast and Glens Growth Deal
Causeway Coast and Glens is currently developing proposals to transform the council area and this growth deal is at an earlier stage than the other three deals. This deal will support innovation; tourism and regeneration; infrastructure; employability and skills; digital connectivity; and energy / green economy.