posted on December 15th, 2017

The Immersive Belfast Tourism Challenge


A new competition has been launched as a part of the Belfast Smart initiative, with an aim of helping the development of cutting-edge technology. The Immersive Belfast Tourism Challenge offers an amazing £25,000 grant, to help the winner create a working prototype product of their own design.

Using the latest in immersive technologies to enhance the visiting experience of key attractions or locations in the city, the technology created can be used to increase immersion in the city’s overall tourism experience.

Councillor Mairéad O’Donnell, Chair of Belfast City Council’s City Growth and Regeneration Committee, explained the rationale behind the competition. She stated that immersive technology was changing the way people interact with their environment, and that the growth of immersive platforms has created a rush for high-quality consumable content that is easily accessible and shareable. Taking advantage of the emergence in content creators and changing Belfast into a next generation, unforgettable place to visit, was something both she and the Belfast City Council felt important.

She also stated that as immersive content includes virtual, augmented and mixed reality, and creative formats for video, sound and other media, the unifying factor was that an immersive experience should bring you into a new world with seamless integration.

To start exploring the potential of these technologies in delivering a bespoke tourism product showcasing the fantastic city, and to test immersive formats which could be used at multiple locations, they ask immersive content creators to focus on a single attraction, location or area of Belfast they believe would be an ideal destination to showcase their ability.

She went on to say that they envisaged the grant being awarded to one project only, depending on the number and quality of submissions received. Seeking applications that describe the creative direction and ambition of the project, they would aim to take the prototype into full development, subject to funding, and as a result, are particularly interested in prototypes that could be fully developed quickly.

Councillor O’Donnell concluded that the grant would be open to a variety of business models, considering funding prototypes that are partnership projects or that have match funding.

With the challenge open for submissions, projects will be assessed on a number of criteria, including cultural and artistic value, suitability for the visitor audience, relevance/suitability for immersive delivery, suitability and feasibility of the prototype beyond the initial challenge, appropriate team experience and value for money.

The Immersive Belfast Tourism Challenge supports the Smart Belfast framework, seeking to harness new technologies and data science to support local economic growth. It also seeks to build on the city’s growing strengths in the digital sector and to foster an environment in which local businesses, innovators and universities and universities can experiment and build products for the future.

Full details on the Immersive Belfast Tourism Challenge, and details on how to submit projects, can be found at www.belfastcity.gov.uk/immersivetech. The closing date for submissions is Friday 15 December, with the successful project being announced a week later.