The high-level conference 'Investing in Europe: building a coalition of smart cities and regions' took place on February 7 2017 in Brussels. It brought together representatives of the EU's institutions and local government bodies in EU regions to focus on investing in smart cities and regions across Europe. They shared their experiences of mobilizing the public sector, business communities, civil society and academia in the creation of smart cities and regions in Europe. They also focused on how these cities and regions can contribute to the decarbonisation of the EU's economy.
Smart cities and regions use integrated energy, transport and IT technologies to reduce their environmental impact and offer citizens better lives. The European Innovation Partnership for Smart Cities and Communities gathers over 6000 stakeholders from cities, industry, business and the financing sector to facilitate and actively develop actions that promote smart cities and communities in the areas of energy, transport and information and communication technologies. The partnership was created as part of the EU's Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan), which aims to accelerate the development and deployment of low-carbon technologies. The EU Horizon 2020 framework programme for research and innovation has also funded Smart Cities Light House projects in almost 60 cities. These projects focus on smart city solutions that have a lot of potential to be copied elsewhere and aim to develop innovative business models.
The conference was organised by the European Commission and the European Committee of the Regions, and was co-hosted by Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the European Commission, and Markku Markkula, President of the European Committee of the Regions. They were joined by Jeremy Rifkin, President of the Foundation on Economic Trends.