A project designed to find more effective ways of identifying businesses that should be paying their rates in Belfast has reached the next stage with the two companies given a contract to build working prototypes of their proposal.
Belfast’s Analytics Engines and Southampton-based NQuiring Minds were confirmed as successful bidders for the project in a joint announcement by Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, Economy Minister Simon Hamilton and Belfast Lord Mayor Alderman Brian Kingston.
“Rates are a vital source of public revenue,” said Mr Ó Muilleoir. “Money raised through our rates funds our schools, hospitals and other essential public services and so I welcome this investment in the development of cutting edge technology to help us maximise rates revenue.”
Economy Minister Simon Hamilton said the project was an example of the kind of lean innovation which SBRI can help the public sector apply to policy and operational issues.
“There is significant scope to apply data analytics to improve public services and also boost the economy and I hope to see more of these kinds of projects in future,” he added.
Mr Kingston said: “Becoming a smart data-driven city is one of the aims of our new strategy for the city, the Belfast Agenda. This project will demonstrate the value of the approach while at the same time helping to ensure that the Rates burden is fairly shared across all relevant businesses.
The Rates project is a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition and is a partnership between Belfast City Council, Department of Finance’s Land and Property Services, the Future Cities Catapult and the Department for the Economy. The project has been funded under the Executive’s SBRI Challenge Fund which is managed jointly by the Department of Finance and the Department of the Economy.