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Belfast will host the UK’s £37.6m Digital Twin Centre

01 May, 2024

The UK is creating a £37.6m digital twin centre of excellence, aimed at revolutionising how UK industries develop products, services and systems. The UK Digital Twin Centre, located in Belfast and led by the Digital Catapult, is being backed by Innovate UK, Belfast Region City Deal and three industrial partners: Thales UK, Spirit AeroSystems and Artemis Technologies. The centre is due to open later this year.

The Centre is expected to contribute 230 new jobs to the manufacturing sector across the UK, and to generate £61m for the local economy in Northern Ireland by 2033.

The Centre will run programmes for all levels of industry, from SMEs to large enterprises. It aims to accelerate industry’s adoption of digital twins by providing access to cutting-edge technologies, cutting the costs of producing digital twins, and developing suitable skills. It will also provide a space where industry, academics and the public sector can collaborate.

The Centre’s industrial partners will deliver six initial use cases to demonstrate the potential of digital twins to transform the maritime, aerospace and defence sectors.

“Today’s announcement is a pivotal moment in realising the real-world value of digital twins for the UK,” says Deborah Colville, who has been appointed the Centre’s director. “The Centre will give businesses across the UK access to the expertise, technology and resources necessary to accelerate the adoption of digital twins to reduce design and manufacturing costs, help meet net-zero targets and drive competitive advantage globally.”

£15m of the Centre’s funding will come from the Belfast Region City Deal to help support core research, and to build skills and capabilities. The investment will support the region’s aim to build innovation and digital capabilities, increase productivity, help to reach net-zero targets, and create more and better jobs.

Digital Twin Centre director Deborah Colville: a pivotal moment

“This is an ambitious project that will bring exciting opportunities for collaboration and accelerate the fantastic transformation Belfast’s digital sector is already witnessing,” says Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Chris Heaton-Harris. “The UK Government’s £350m investment into the Belfast Region City Deal will be used to support this project and ensure that we continue to make good progress across the City and Growth Deal programme, bringing even more prosperity to Northern Ireland, and ensuring it is the best place in the world to invest.”

Digital twins are virtual models of physical objects or systems using real-world data. They can be used for rapid prototyping and can help businesses to make smarter decisions, shorten time-to-market, cut costs and reduce emissions.

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