Belfast to host UK Digital Twin Centre of excellence

UK businesses will be able to take advantage of digital twin technology following a £37.6m investment by Belfast Region City Deal and Innovate UK into the UK Digital Twin Centre.


Opening later this year in Belfast, the new centre of excellence is expected to transform how industries develop products, services and systems.

Led by Digital Catapult, the Centre has been launched with co-investment from Thales UK, Spirit AeroSystems and Artemis Technologies who will deliver an initial six use cases to demonstrate the potential of digital twins in the maritime, aerospace and defence sectors.

According to the Catapult, the UK Digital Twin Centre aims to accelerate industry’s adoption of digital twins by providing access to advanced technologies, reducing the costs of producing a digital twin and developing workforce skills. The Centre will also provide a collaborative space for industry, academia and the public sector to foster cross-sector innovation.

In a statement, Chris Heaton-Harris, secretary of state for Northern Ireland, said: “This is an ambitious project that will bring exciting opportunities for collaboration and accelerate the fantastic transformation Belfast’s digital sector is already witnessing. 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 a physical object or system which can be informed by streamed data from a real-world version or environment. The digital twin can provide capabilities including rapid prototyping and real-world control mechanisms that enable businesses to make more informed decisions, achieve better outcomes, shorten time to market, reduce costs and lower emissions.

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

To enable digital twins to be more accessible, better understood, more easily developed, and more meaningfully applied, the UK Digital Twin Centre will run a series of programmes for all levels of industry – from SMEs to large enterprises – to drive innovation and realise new value.