Northern Ireland Tourist Board

How can we help?

Or browse

Helping visitors explore more

Up to £100,000 on offer in SBRI funding scheme for technology-tourism solutions

Helping visitors explore more will be essential to Northern Ireland’s success as a world-class tourism destination.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies are transforming many sectors of the modern economy. In tourism, they can facilitate a more personalised and frictionless travel experience for visitors.

Tourism NI, working in conjunction with our partners Digital Catapult NI and the Department for the Economy, are looking for innovative AI solutions that will help us to improve the visitor experience.

The Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) is a well-established process to connect public sector challenges with innovative ideas from industry, supporting companies to generate economic growth and enabling improvement in achieving government objectives.

Tourism NI is collating datasets from a range of sources, and is seeking to investigate the application of advanced data analytics and artificial intelligence to gain real-time insights into the visitor experience in Northern Ireland. Tourism NI will make its tourism product data available to successful applicants, as well as any other relevant data we have available within the timeframe. We would also like to explore the integration of its data with that held in other organisations including use of open and commercial data.

Tourism NI is investing up to £100,000 for up to five Phase 1 proof-of-concept projects at this stage, and reserves the right to continue this competition to a Phase 2 if results are sufficiently promising. 

We are seeking AI/machine learning solutions that will meet one or more of the following objectives:

  • Empower visitors to enjoy seamless journeys via, for example, personalised itineraries, contextual recommendations and virtual assistance
  • Regional dispersal: Encourage visitors to find and encounter new experiences beyond the traditional honeypots
  • Revenue growth: Encourage visitors to extend the length of their visits and, importantly, spend more in the local economy while they are here
  • Provide new insights into how Northern Ireland’s visitors identify, book and experience tourist activities

Tourism NI is open-minded about how bidders should approach the challenge, however, solutions should address the following challenges:

  • Commercial sustainability of product post competition
  • GDPR and data security

Who can apply?
To apply you must propose a solution that:

  • Responds to one or more of the objectives
  • Is technically or commercially innovative
  • Has wider tourism marketplace potential beyond TNI
  • Considers the supporting operating and commercial models

You do need to have a specific product, platform or service in mind, even if it is only at idea stage.

How will the challenge work?

This contest is a two-stage process.

Stage 1

Completion of an application form to present your idea. We will then select up to 8 solutions to go through to the next stage.

Applicants can apply from 20 December 2018. To learn more about the contest and to get the application form, visit

Stage 2

Live pitch and Q&A to an expert assessment panel on 30 January 2019 who will make the final decision on which solutions to fund.

Key dates

20 December 2018             Contest opens

21 January 2019 (noon)     Submission deadline

25 January 2019                  Shortlisted companies notified

30 January 2019                  Live pitch and panel Q&A

1 February 2019                   Winners notified

Feb 2018 to March 2019    Development and trial window

April 2019 (date TBC)         Presentation of completed solution

Next steps

1. Bidders are strongly advised to read the SBRI Guidance

2.Complete the SBRI Application Form and email to by noon on 21 January 2019.

If you have any questions, need help applying or are looking for partners to work on your project with, email the Tourism NI digital team -


This competition brief should be read in conjunction with other documents associated with this competition: