Agenda item


            The Committee considered the following report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report


            UK-Republic of Korea Innovation Twins Programme


1.1       To update the Committee on the UK and Republic of Korea Innovation Twins programme and plans for the next phase of the programme which includes:


·        developing and implementing a roadmap to support collaboration on smart city initiatives, economic development and bi-lateral trade between Belfast and the city of Sejong;


·        signing an MOU/friendly, cooperative agreement to support opportunities for city-to-city collaboration;


·        an invitation to the City Innovation team to lead an Innovation Twinning Programme development visit to Sejong with costs covered by BEIS/Connected Places Catapult (CPC); and


·        an invitation to host the Mayor, Choi Min-ho and a delegation from Sejong during their visit to Belfast in August 2023.


            Council of Global City CIOs


1.2       To update Members on the Council of Global City Chief Innovation Officers visit to Belfast on 23rd May 2023. 


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to:



            UK-Republic of Korea Innovation Twins Programme


                                          (i)   note the invitation for the City Innovation Office to lead on a visit to Sejong and support the further development of a roadmap to develop collaborative, co-investment opportunities;


                                         (ii)   approve the request for a letter of invitation to the Mayor of Sejong to visit Belfast in August 2023; and


                                       (iii)   approve the request for Lord Mayor to meet and host a reception for the Mayor of Sejong and the signing of an MOU in August 2023


            Council of Global City CIOs


                                       (iv)   note the CCGC event taking place on 23 May 2023;


                                         (v)   note the attendance of the Lord Mayor at the event; and


                                        (vi)   approve the Council’s membership of the CGCC.


3.0       Main Report


            UK-Republic of Korea Innovation Twins Programme


3.1       Members will be aware from previous update reports of the Council’s participation in the ‘UK-Republic of Korea Innovation Twins’ programme[1] which was set up by the Connected Places Catapult and funded by BEIS and UKRI.


3.2       The programme aims to build relationships between smart cities with high potential for accelerating long term R and I collaborations and generating opportunities for trade and FDI.  Following Committee approval for participation in the programme in 2021, a Statement of Intent was agreed to promote collaboration on the first of the programme up to the end of March 2023. 


3.3       While not legally binding, the Statement sets out areas of shared interest based on discussion with a range of city partners, to form the basis for cooperation between Sejong and Belfast.  These include smart cities, medtech, cyber security, fintech, academic, educational and cultural cooperation, economic development and opportunities for bilateral trade and investment. 


3.4       During the initial phase of the programme, we received £100,000 funding which enabled eight local companies to avail of training and support to develop a range of products in areas such as virtual tourism, community rewards programmes, last mile delivery, safer cycling, recycling behaviour, fitness hubs and personal safety.  They profiled their work during a virtual international showcase event and one company was successful in being selected for a follow up trade mission to South Korea.


3.5       Council staff also had opportunities to work with innovative companies to develop digital solutions and also benefitted from a bespoke innovative procurement training programme delivered via the Captapult. 


3.6       In the next phase of the Innovation Twins programme, Connected Places Catapult (CPC), with funding from BEIS, will facilitate further engagement with key city partners on the development and implementation of a roadmap to consolidate areas of focus for both cities.  The roadmap will set out key missions and priority areas for city to city civic, academic and business collaboration over the next two to three years. It will also detail governance structures and resources required.  It is anticipated the roadmap will also help to unlock future funding opportunities from UK Government and attract South Korean investment. 


3.7       Roadmap development will include the identification of one or more collaborative projects and will include outward visits to Sejong for Belfast companies as well as agreeing to host delegations here in Belfast. As part of this next phase the City Innovation team have been invited by Connected Places Catapult to lead a programme of meetings in Sejong to build  on our innovation twinning relationship and agree a focus for collaborative innovation projects.  CPC will provide funding of £32,500 to cover associated costs for the outward visit and resulting roadmap development.  This will be made available following Committee approval for the signing of a grant agreement.


3.8       Invest NI has been a key partner in developing the relationship with Sejong and worked closely with us on shaping the Statement of Intent.  They have now established an office in South Korea having extended their work into Sejong through the Innovation Twins programme.  Their work programme for 2023 includes a Smart Cities cluster mission which is planned to coincide with the Smart Cities Expo in Korea in September this year. 


3.9       The Mayor of Sejong would like to visit Belfast and wishes to sign an MOU to replace the current Statement of Intent which ended on 31st March 2023.  The Mayor of Sejong’s office has requested a letter of invitation to bring a delegation of 10 people to include the Ambassador of International Relations (two team members), the Director of External Relations, a representative from the Culture and the Economy Department, and two people from Executive Secretary office.  The visit will potentially take place 7 and 8 August 2023 and will provide an opportunity to promote collaboration on a range of areas such as Smart Cities, Digital Twins and cyber security among others, that will be confirmed during the roadmap development phase.    


3.10      During the visit, we would like to host a meeting/reception with the Lord Mayor to facilitate the signing of the MOU, provide a lunch/dinner with key city stakeholders to promote areas of collaboration agreed in the roadmap and offer a tour of the city.


3.11      Invest NI are liaising with the Northern Ireland Office separately in relation to the programme for the Mayor’s visit and will provide support for the visit.


3.12      Members should note that, in parallel, Invest NI hosted Steve Baker NI Minister of State, during a visit to South Korea. The Minister who was made aware of our programme, had the opportunity to meet with the Mayor of Sejong and invited him to come to Northern Ireland for further discussion on opportunities for bi-lateral trade and collaboration.  


            Council of Global City Chief Innovation Officers (CGCC)


3.13      The Council of Global City Chief Information Officers was set up in 2016 and brings together the leaders and commissioners for innovation and digital technologies from European cities. The aim of the Council, which is supported by Bloomberg Associates, is for cities to share best practice, practice and strategic advice on smart cities, digital technologies and urban innovation 


3.14      CGCC originated in the US in 2016 and was led by chief technology officials in San Francisco and Washington DC with a focus on developing a model for smart cities; digital connectivity; and open source and code-sharing.


3.15      CGCC has been invited to Ireland on 22nd and 23rd May by the CEO of Dublin City Council for its bi-annual meeting. Invites have been issued to the CIOs of Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Bratislava, Dublin, Helsinki, Karlsruhe, Kyiv, London, Milan, New York, Tallinn, The Hague and Zurich. The group have expressed an interest in visiting Belfast to find out about our urban innovation ambition.


3.16      A visit by these CIOs would allow us to showcase Belfast’s digital innovation ambition to influential European partners and to explore collaborative economic and innovation opportunities.  (Note: the City Innovation Manager has been invited by Bloomberg to become a member of the group to represent the Smart Belfast Innovation ambition.)


3.17      The CGCC will hear about the Smart Belfast programme, the Belfast Smart District and City Deal investments. There will be a focus on smart tourism and the local creative industries sector, highlighting our Augment the City initiative and Belfast Stories development, with a visit to Ulster University’s Virtual Production Studio. Ormeau Baths will also present on its role in supporting Belfast’s innovation ecosystem and highlight some of the SMEs located at its coworking space. 

3.18      The Lord Mayor has been invited to attend the event and welcome the CGCC members to Belfast. 


            Financial and Resource Implications


3.19      UK-Republic of Korea Innovation Twins Programme


1.      Overall Belfast visit programme schedule will be led and funded by Invest NI;


2.      Staff from the City Innovation Office will work with the Enterprise and Business Growth Unit to plan the hosting of the dinner for the Mayor of Sejong and his team - estimated at under £3,000;


The cost for hosting the dinner will come from existing Smart Cities Budget;


3.      Costs associated with roadmap development will be funded through BEIS/Connected Places Catapult


4.      Costs for the Sejong visit to develop the programme and area/s of interest will be met by   BEIS/Connected Places Catapult


            In TOTAL £32,500 funding from BEIS/CPC being received.


            Council of Global City CIOs


3.20      £800 for catering for approx. 30 global leaders, including tea and coffee on arrival, and lunch. Final costs subject to confirmation of final attendee numbers.


·        This will come from existing Smart Cities budget. NOTE: Ormeau Baths has agreed to provide its event space at no cost.


            Equality or Good Relations Implications / Rural Needs Assessment


3.21      None.”


The Committee adopted the recommendations.


Supporting documents: