Belfast City Council (BCC) is hoping to introduce a ‘last-mile delivery’ service to tackle city centre gridlock caused by delivery vehicles.
Belfast and Dublin City Councils are jointly launching the “Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) challenge”, offering €230,000 (£202k) to businesses to develop more efficient freight services.
The competition is in partnership with Enterprise Ireland and the ‘last-mile delivery’ project is part of the wider Smart Belfast initiative, which aims to use to technology to address everyday challenges in the city.
Belfast city centre has a number of traffic “hotspots” where larges volumes of traffic frequently cause congestion, particularly at peak times.
In a joint tender, Belfast and Dublin councils said there was a need to cut down on the number of freight vehicles in their respective cities.
“Both Dublin and Belfast are looking for ways to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of deliveries, reducing the number of goods vehicles in their respective urban centres,” the tender reads.
Councillor Aileen Graham, deputy chair of BCC’s Strategic Policy and Resources Committee, said “the changing nature of business” and online retail has transformed the way goods are delivered.
“This has had an impact on things like air quality, traffic management and infrastructure,” she added.
“We made a commitment in The Belfast Agenda to improve the city living experience and make it easy to do business.
“So we’re partnering with Dublin to understand these changes in more detail. We also want to explore ways to enhance the effectiveness of deliveries for city centre business.
“We have some fantastic, innovative companies in Belfast and I encourage them to apply to this competition,.”
Belfast City Council is hosting an information session for interested companies at Belfast City Hall on May 17.
The competition is funded through Enterprise Ireland’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) programme and both city councils have also contributed funding.
Broken up into two phases, the first stage of the competition will take place this summer and will see funding given to up to five companies to develop their initial plans or "proof of concept".
These concepts will seek to “understand the impact of goods deliveries on both cities and explore ideas for new ways of working”.
Phase two, which will run from Autumn 2018 to Spring 2019, will provide further funding to take a number of these ideas forward to a prototype stage.
Local News Partnership