For the first time, Belfast and Dublin City Councils are partnering with Enterprise Ireland to launch a joint Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) challenge based competition that’s offering €230,000 to businesses to develop low cost, innovative and commercially viable solutions that can help optimise goods deliveries in both cities.
Councillor Aileen Graham, Deputy Chair of Belfast City Council’s Strategic Policy and Resources Committee explains: “The changing nature of business, particularly the growth of online retail, has changed the way goods are delivered in both of our city centres. And this has had an impact on things like air quality, traffic management and infrastructure.
“We made a commitment in The Belfast Agenda to improve the city living experience and make it easy to do business. So we’re partnering with Dublin to understand these changes in more detail. We also want to explore ways to enhance the effectiveness of deliveries for city centre business.
“We have some fantastic, innovative companies in Belfast and I encourage them to apply to this competition. This is an opportunity to bring fresh thinking to a growing challenge shared by most cities and therefore offers commercial opportunities.”
Belfast City Council is hosting an information session for interested companies at Belfast City Hall next Thursday, 17 May and delegates can register to attend here.
There is also an information session in Dublin on 15 May, with registration at bit.ly/2wan0pB. Full details of the challenge can be found here.
Kevin Sherry, Executive Director, Global Business Development, Enterprise Ireland said: “Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) is an Enterprise Ireland initiative which gives a platform to SMEs with innovative ideas to actively tackle societal needs and challenges through collaborations with public bodies.
“We’re delighted to launch this all-island challenge, which is facilitated through a strategic partnership between Dublin City Council and Belfast City Council. The SBIR competitive challenges target important and diverse issues and I encourage innovative and forward-thinking companies on both sides of the border to apply. I look forward to seeing the innovative solutions harnessed from these challenges which have the potential to make positive impacts both here in Ireland and around the globe.”
Dublin City Council Chief Executive, Owen Keegan added: “We are delighted to partner with Belfast City Council on this first joint challenge to address the Last Mile Delivery in our respective cities. We are opening up this challenge to the market in order to seek new ideas and approaches to what is a very complex issue for cities around the world.”
The competition is funded through Enterprise Ireland’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) programme, which supports businesses to develop new ideas and solutions for the public sector that may become commercially viable products and services.
Both city councils have also contributed funding. It’s one of a range of Smart Belfast and Smart Dublin projects that seek to harness new technologies and data science to address urban challenges.