Northern Ireland IoT Challenge

Northern Ireland

About the Programme

Things Connected NI is a regional program that will see the deployment of LPWAN a ‘Low Powered Wide Area Network’ across most of Northern Ireland in 2018.This infrastructure, also known as an Internet of Things (IoT) network, will be free to use for experimentation and testing, demonstration, and piloting IoT products and services. LPWAN provides an inexpensive way for many low-cost sensors to be connected; the data transmitted from the devices will transit the network and is forwarded to your application server. Things Connected Northern Ireland is backed by a consortium of Northern Ireland local authority councils, private sector bodies, universities and specialist advisors. Through this we’ll stimulate innovation in this high growth industry while actively building and supporting the ecosystem to innovate, experiment, prototype and bring to market new products and services.

Things Connected Northern Ireland is launching several challenge calls in areas such as urban living, transport, smart buildings, manufacturing, digital media, tourism, agriculture and healthcare. The challenge programme will be rolled out incrementally from April 1st 2018.

  • Phase one: During this initial phase, applications should expect to do a scoping exercise, engage with planned programme activities and prototype a solutions.
  • Phase two: During this more advanced stage, applicants are expected to demonstrate their proof of concept to the challenge owners

Why SMEs should join / get involved

This is a unique opportunity for businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs, to get free access the Things Connected IoT network. To undertake experimental research and development, all while being supported by a programme that offers facilitated access to the ecosystem, support from academia, subject matter expertise, technical and business development support.

What SMEs can expect from the programme

The SMEs can expect to get:

  • Hands on practical experience in the IoT industry, from creating a concept to building and testing a device on the network
  • Participation in the eco-system
  • build networks and peer relationships
  • New market opportunities and access to investment

Challenge leaders

For each of the challenge calls there is a designated challenge leader who are either private sector industry leaders, subject matter experts or public-sector policy makers. These authoritative figures will convene eco system meetings, and provide access to supporting information and data.

Details on the challenge areas and participating challenge owners are listed below.

Who should apply

SMEs who are interesting in seeking to solve the programme challenges. Technical SMEs will likely apply however, a technical background is no pre-requisite. There are plenty of tools and resources available here to guide. As with other challenge calls, we recommend a collaborative approach, the fusion of an entrepreneurial approach supported by technical experts has the potential to yield good results.

How to apply

If you are interested in finding out about how you can get involved.

Register here

Our Challenge Owners

Tourism Northern Ireland

Tourism Challenge

Tourism Northern Ireland (Tourism NI) is responsible for the development of tourism and the marketing of Northern Ireland as a tourist destination. Tourism NI’s mission is to build the value of tourism to the local economy in partnership with government and industry and to champion the development and promotion of the Northern Ireland experience.

To help inform this challenge the National Trust have helped to highlight the need for new technology in tourism products. The National Trust actively protect and promote heritage sites, nature and wildlife sites, areas of outstanding natural beauty, and popular tourist locations.

Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council, and Mid and East Antrim Council

Manufacturing Challenge

Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon council are home to a high number of quality firms that specialise in a diverse range of manufacturing; this in turn supports a large volume of manufacturing jobs across the borough.

Mid and East Antrim council area is the traditional manufacturing heartland of Northern Ireland, with double the level of employment compared to Northern Ireland as a whole, and three times the UK’s average.

To help inform this challenge the Northern Ireland Consortium have sought the guidance of four international manufacturing companies with a presence in Northern Ireland; namely Seagate, the Lynas Food group, DELL/EMC and Encirc360. Seagate Technology PLC (Seagate) is an American data storage company with 46,000 employees world-wide and revenue of 12.66 billion USD (2016). Lynas Food group are a Northern Ireland-based quality frozen food distributer for the UK and Ireland with £108 million revenue (2015), boasting over 5000 customers including top hotels and fine dining restaurants. DELL Inc. is a multinational computer technology company and one of the largest technology companies in the world with 138,000 employees and annual revenue of $61.6 billion USD (2016). Encirc360 are the only company to offer a full service throughout the supply chain of glass product creation, on-site beverage bottling, and secure logistics for the EU market. They also offer leadership in environmentally friendly manufacturing processes as well as green product usage.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council and Causeway, Coast and Glens Borough Council

Creative Technologies and Tourism Challenge

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council in partnership with Southern Regional College (SRC) and South Eastern Regional College (SERC) will help equip businesses (SMEs) with the confidence, skills and tools to benefit from the rapid growth of digital and emerging technologies. 

Causeway, Coast and Glens Borough council is home to beautiful countryside, stunning beaches, and some of the finest tourism sites on the planet. The council has a passion for growing the tourism industry and is keen to use new technology to pioneer fresh opportunities.

The programme, supported by Digital NMD, will highlight the importance of innovation and growth and will help local businesses explore technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Internet of Things (IoT), Immersive Video content, 3D Printing, and Big Data. The aim of the programme is to educate businesses on the benefits and opportunities of these technologies and how they can increase competitive advantage. This challenge has been richly informed by Titanic Quarter Ltd. who are responsible for major commercial, tourism, residential and education schemes, and have re-energised Belfast’s waterfront and former shipbuilding lands to the state-of-the-art example of visionary excellence. Titanic Quarter is a 30+ year project with a vision to regenerate 185-acres of waterfront land and are at the vanguard for blending technology with everyday living.

This challenge is also supported by the National Trust in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland has exceptional natural and historical areas that are managed by the National Trust; these include the 8th wonder of the world (The Giant’s Causeway) and the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge which overlooks the wild Atlantic. The management team received the British Travel Award for 2015 when the Giant’s Causeway was crowned the UKs Best Heritage Attraction.

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council and Derry and Strabane Council

Smart Healthy Buildings Challenge

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council have a strong interest in the development of intelligent and conscious buildings solutions - buildings that use smart technology for facilities management while also contributing to the health and well-being of the occupants. The vision is to revolutionise city living and working environments.

Derry and Strabane District council is home to a number of leading healthcare programmes and centres. As an example, Derry’s Altnagelvin Hospital recently launched a cardiovascular research group at the state-of-the-art Clinical Transitional Research and Innovation Centre (C-TRIC).

To help inform this challenge the Northern Ireland Consortium have sought the guidance of four international manufacturing companies with a presence in Northern Ireland; these are Tyco/Johnson Controls and leaders in the NHS. Tyco/Johnson Controls are global leaders in smart building management with a vision to revolutionise city living and working environments. They bring further experience in heating control and security systems. The leaders from the NHS are innovators in their field and possess decades of experience. They understand what clinicians expect and the procedural path to achieving a successful innovation in healthcare.

Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council; Mid and East Antrim Borough Council and Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council

Agriculture Challenge

The 3 partnering council areas have a rich farming and food production heritage and take lead on the agriculture challenge. Amplify, the Integrated Economic Development Strategy for Mid and East Antrim, places a key focus on innovation which includes within the Agri-food sector. Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council & Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council both have large agricultural areas and have experience in the key challenges faced by the modern farmer.

This challenge has been richly informed by the Ulster Farmers’ Union. The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU), founded in 1918, is the largest organisation representing farmers and growers in Northern Ireland. Its central objective is to promote their interests both at home and abroad, promoting and supporting a vibrant and sustainable rural economy where agriculture is secure and pivotal to its future.

Ards and North Down Council

Transportation Challenge

Ards and North Down Borough Council has a geographical area of 228 square miles and a coastline of 115 miles along two loughs and the Irish Sea. Being beside the major port of Belfast, the George Best Belfast City Airport, and also having a peninsula, offers a unique perspective on the needs and challenges that logistics and transport brings to this region. Using innovative and smart technologies to gather decision making information, we wish to tackle congestion on the roads, increase the use of public transport and promote more active travel. Not only do we wish to lessen traffic congestion on many routes, but also reduce the environmental impact associated with CO2 emissions. We are also keen to monitor logistics performance to create effectiveness and efficiencies for delivery companies within our towns thereby reducing traffic congestion in the town centres.

Ards and North Down Borough Council is seeking input from SMEs to help develop new technology that will enable us to meet the logistics and transportation challenge using the free to use LPWAN network (Internet of Things network). If you have any innovative ideas that have assisted in resolving issues around the logistics and transportation challenge, we would like to hear from you. It is hoped that the development of solutions to this challenge will generate economic growth for businesses in new and innovative ways.

Guidance for this challenge has been sought from Bombardier and EuropCar to help advise and steer the current needs in the sector. Bombardier is the world's leading manufacturer of both planes and trains, with 66,000 employees and annual revenue of $16.4 billion USD (2016). EuropCar has 6000+ employees across 3835 worldwide locations and is one of the world’s leading vehicle hire companies.

Belfast City Council

Playable urban spaces (animating the public realm)

Belfast City is the capital and largest city in Northern Ireland. It is home to world class universities, clusters of expert businesses in the fields of advanced medicine, connected health, cyber security and financial services. Innovation and entrepreneurship are part of our DNA. Belfast City Council is seeking SMEs to explore how technology could be used to create a playable city; turning the urban environment into a safe, engaging, interactive space that citizens and visitors enjoy exploring. We hope to see technology and creativity combined to animate the public realm.

Belfast City Council are running a two-phase competition for Northern Ireland small businesses to explore how they can utilise the Things Connected NI network to help re-imagine the streets of our city centre. Over the last decade Belfast city centre has been transformed; with substantial public and private sector investments in shops, cafes, offices, and in the very fabric of the public space. In many streets we’ve invested in new lights, footpaths and street furniture.

We want to rethink city infrastructure to better understand the needs and desires of the citizen. We also want people to be able to engage with and explore our city in fun and innovative ways – we want a playable city. By doing so we believe we can make the city centre a more attractive place to live, work and visit. And we can gain useful insights that will help us plan future investments and activities that will enhance parts of our city centre that get less attention and are less loved than they deserve. We are confident that with user-led thinking and by leveraging data science and new technologies – particularly the use of the Things Connected NI network –local businesses can contribute to this vision. Along with access to the network, participating businesses will be offered practical support in terms of technology design, IoT cloud analytics and business development.