A new £575,000 XR funding competition will bring together innovators from our creative industries sector with our leading tourism organisations to explore how immersive technology will enhance future visitor attractions across the Belfast region, including the landmark Belfast Stories.

The Augment the City challenge competition, led by Belfast City Council’s City Innovation Office and funded by the Belfast Region City Deal, will enable local businesses to develop ideas, proof of concepts and prototypes using immersive technologies such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality to enhance visitor attractions.

This competition is now closed to applications.


Belfast City Council is designing a new tourism landmark – Belfast Stories – which will open in Belfast city centre in 2029.

Belfast Stories will reflect the unique spirit of Belfast through a variety of media and a mix of immersive experiences. Celebrating Belfast’s people and places, this new attraction will enable visitors and local people to connect with the city and one another through stories, screen, and social spaces.

We are looking for creative technology innovators to develop concepts and proposals which will use innovative immersive and digital technologies to gather, curate and present stories about Belfast and its people.

What are we offering?

Successful applicants will benefit from:

  • funding to support innovation and R&D to develop ideas, proofs of concepts and prototypes in immersive technologies,
  • access to a venue, with state-of-the-art advanced wireless digital connectivity, to develop, trial and showcase their innovative ideas and prototypes,
  • user testing and feedback from visitors to help improve and enhance their product, and
  • a better understanding of the future needs of those creating new visitor attractions in the city and elsewhere.

Funding available

The funding competition will be delivered across three phases:

  • Phase 1: Up to ten companies will be offered up to £10,000 each to develop their concepts. This will include an in-person presentational pitch in Belfast at the end of phase 1.
  • Phase 2: Up to five companies will be offered up to £35,000 to further develop their proposals.
  • Phase 3: Up to three companies will be offered up to £100,000 each to develop prototypes.

Key dates – Phase 1

  • 15 April 2024: Challenge Fund (phase 1) opens for applications
  • 18 April 2024: Information session for local businesses interested in applying to the fund
  • 3pm, 10 May 2024: Closing date for applications
  • 17 May 2024: Successful applicants announced
  • End of May 2024: Phase 1 commences
  • 26 June 2024: Phase 1 pitch presentations (in-person in Belfast)
  • 30 June 2024: Submission of end of phase 1 reports
  • Autumn 2024: Phase 2
  • Spring 2025: Phase 3

Apply for funding

This competition closed at 3pm on 10 May 2024.

More information

For more information, email smartbelfast@belfastcity.gov.uk.

Belfast Region City Deal logoBelfast Region City Deal

The Augment the City Challenge Competition is funded by the Belfast Region City Deal (BRCD). The BRCD is an ambitious £850 million programme of investment that aims to deliver inclusive economic growth in the Belfast region and cuts across the responsibilities of local councils, the Northern Ireland Executive and UK Government. The BRCD partnership is comprised of the Belfast region’s six local authorities, four further education colleges, and two universities.