Agenda item


The Committee considered the following report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report/Summary of Main Issues


1.1       To seek Committee approval of a Statement of Intent to support ongoing collaboration with the city of Sejong (South Korea).  A pre-recording of the signing of the Statement by the Chief Executive will feature as part of a virtual International Showcase Day with Sejong on 30th March, which will mark the culmination of this last phase of the project.  


1.1             To provide an update on the virtual international Showcase Day on March 30th and planned agenda.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to:


                                         i          approve the Statement of Intent - which has been developed with support from key institutions across the city - to progress opportunities for collaboration with the city of Sejong in South Korea; and


                                        ii           note the arrangements for a joint city to city virtual international showcase day on March 30th, which will feature a pre-recording of the signing of the Statement of Intent by the Chief Executive.


3.0       Main Report


3.1       At the Committee meeting in November 2021, Members were presented with details of the Council’s participation in the ‘UK-Republic of Korea Innovation Twins’ programme1 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. Committee has also received regular updates on the programme and has been made aware of the development of a Statement of Intent to support ongoing collaboration and this is now being submitted for approval. 


3.3       While not legally binding, the Statement sets out areas of shared interest which will form the basis for ongoing 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       The Statement of Intent has been developed in conjunction with our colleagues in the city of Sejong in South Korea and with support from Invest NI who are in the process of developing a presence there. It will facilitate opportunities for mutual benefit between both cities and make it possible to unlock further funding from BEIS post March, 2022.


3.5       It has also been discussed with Colin Crooks, the newly appointed UK Ambassador to South Korea.  Following a meeting led by the City Innovation team with representatives from Queens University, Ulster University, Health Innovation Research Alliance and QUBIS, Ambassador Crooks has taken the opportunity to table areas of interest detailed in the Statement with the Mayor of Sejong to promote future collaboration.


3.6       With Committee approval, a pre-recording of the signing of the Statement of Intent by the Chief Executive will be shown on March 30th,at a virtual international Showcase Day (organised and funded by Connected Places Catapult) to mark the culmination of the UK innovation twins programme. 


3.7       Ian Greer, Vice-chancellor of Queens University and Chair of Innovation City Belfast will provide a keynote speech at the showcase event, setting out the city’s innovation ambitions and sector strengths and addressing the benefits of bilateral engagement between Belfast and Sejong, potential outcomes and impact for both cities. Invest NI will outline their role to


            support international trade and showcase companies currently doing business and who wish to do business in South Korea.  


3.8       Deborah Colville will present at the event on the theme of Smart Cities and Belfast Digital Innovation investments and John Greer will attend a panel session to outline how opportunities can be further developed between Belfast and Sejong beyond the current programme.   


3.9       Local companies who have received funding (from a total budget of c £100k as part of the Innovation Twins programme) will also have the opportunity to show-case their innovative products or services at the event.  Eight companies in total have been successful in their application for funding and will present on a range of products relating to areas such as encouraging recycling behaviour, fitness hubs, virtual tourism, community rewards programmes, last mile delivery, safer cycling, and personal safety.   


3.10      There are also opportunities for companies not directly involved in the programme but who wish to explore business/collaboration in Sejong/South Korea to profile their work within a virtual exhibition space. 


3.11      Work undertaken to develop an ‘Innovative Procurement Playbook’ will also feature as part of the event. The Playbook will capture the learning from the full programme and support local councils and public sector bodies across the UK to find better ways to procure more innovative solutions and services.  It will also include learning from the delivery of a training programme delivered to local SMEs, and to council officers (who took part in the programme) to build their capacity to engage in challenge-led competitions. 


3.12      The training for both officers and for SMEs will provide useful preparation and learning for the council to ensure that we are able to maximise the innovation opportunities offered by the Belfast Region City Deal challenge funds and in particular the Innovation for Societal Impact fund which is in development.  


3.13      Financial and Resource Implications


            The programme requires officer time commitment from across the Departments.


3.14      Equality or Good Relations Implications / Rural Needs Assessment






Statement of Intent between Sejong City and Belfast


This Statement of Intent is intended to set out areas of shared interest which will form the basis for cooperation between Sejong and Belfast to support their city twinning project as well as other relevant activities.


The cities of Sejong and Belfast wish to explore opportunities for long-term city to city relationships which, inter alia, contribute to shared economic prosperity, enhance bilateral trade and investment and accelerate research and innovation for both cities. Cooperation between both cities will also include the promotion of skills development and job creation in both regions, business growth, market access for participating entities, shared socioeconomic prosperity and lasting research and innovation to address city challenges.


Both cities, working together for the purposes of this Statement of Intent, will consider their cooperation in such particular areas of interest as follow but are not exclusive to:

·        smart cities, cyber security, fintech, medtech, regtech, enabling and emerging technologies

·       regulatory sandboxes

·        research and innovation contributing to mobility, health and wellbeing, advanced manufacturing, net zero, sustainable and resilient cities.

·        innovation eco-systems and innovative procurement.

·       economic development and diversification.

·        start-up and SME support.

·       academic, educational and cultural cooperation.

·        opportunities for bilateral trade and investment, as appropriate, supported by Invest Northern Ireland


In accordance with the principles of equality and mutual benefit, both cities will explore opportunities to carry out cooperation in various forms to support the areas listed above.

Both cities will conduct regular visits and exchanges to strengthen further their friendly andcooperative relationships and will exchange information on the areas listed above as applicable.

This Statement of Intent is not a legally binding document and will not be deemed to constitute or create any legally binding or enforceable obligations, express or implied.

It will come into effect on the date of signing and will be reviewed on an annual basis.


Signed on behalf of Sejong City








Signed on behalf of Belfast City Council








The Committee adopted the recommendations.


Supporting documents: