Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Intelligent city ecosystems

Intelligent city ecosystems

Our cities have an important role to play the promotion and uptake of advanced technologies for smart, green, sustainable growth and social development models. They can boost the efficient use of resources by moving to a clean, circular economy for green industrial transition and ensure better living conditions for their populations. They can create the right conditions to accelerate technological transformation and support disruptive innovation of businesses, organisations and public administrations. European Commission initiatives recognise the need for an integrated and coordinated approach to support local policy makers to understand the application of advanced technologies and the opportunities they provide, so that they can design flexible, future-proof policies.

The 100 Intelligent Cities Challenge

The 100 Intelligent Cities Challenge (ICC) is helping 100 smaller EU cities to promote green, climate-neutral, sustainable growth - improving the quality of life for people in these cities. Advanced technologies can help achieve these goals.

The ICC focuses on the implementation of city strategies, common platforms for open data, a marketplace for intelligent city solutions, joint investments, new support mechanisms and a new international dimension. The ICC helps cities to develop ambitious strategies that reduce their carbon footprints, scale-up renewable energy solutions, develop a social economy, reduce inequality and foster new opportunities for citizens. The action is aligned with EU priorities for a European Green Deal, an economy that works for people and a Europe fit for the digital age.

The five-step methodological approach prepares cities to

  • assess their technological maturity
  • build vibrant local ecosystems engaging all city stakeholders
  • refine an ambitious vison, strategy and roadmap for smart, sustainable growth and green industry
  • implement actions and achieve results
  • measure progress

A call for expression of interest for European cities to join our Intelligent Cities Challenge is until 6 April 2020. The challenge builds on the success of the Digital Cities Challenge (see below), which helped 41 EU cities to create a vision, strategy and roadmap for their digital transformation.

The Digital Cities Challenge

The Digital Cities Challenge initiative helped 41 cities to become more innovative, better places to live by putting advanced technologies at the service of their citizens. The challenge offered high-quality policy counsel and coaching from high-level experts with local and international experience. This tailored support helped them to develop and implement strategic plans addressing economic growth and social welfare, leveraging the opportunities of advanced technologies. The Digital Cities Challenge helped cities, representing over 1.5 million small and medium-sized enterprises to

  • mobilise ambitious political leadership and adopt digital transformation strategies and roadmaps
  • engage citizens in shaping the city vision and strategy
  • become conscious of the issues of technological sovereignty
  • deploy open data platforms and digitise physical infrastructure
  • upskill people for the jobs of the future
  • create vibrant markets for cutting-edge technology solutions

Blueprint for cities and regions as launch-pads for digital transformation

The Blueprint for cities and regions as launch-pads for digital transformation by the Strategic Policy Forum on Digital Entrepreneurship illustrates the strategic role of urban and regional ecosystems in leading a modern, smart transformation of their territories. It also underlines the importance of a holistic approach that is built on visionary political leadership and strong partnership with all local actors and citizens. An online tool for the blueprint defines the specific recommendations for local stakeholders on how to support digital transformation and presents the 13 case-studies in detail. Yet, the key to digital transformation remains leadership. Digital transformation has to be led from the top, with active involvement from policy makers and higher management in both the public and private sectors. To enable them to better appreciate the functioning of advanced technologies, as well as their social, economic and regulatory implications, the report, ‘Digital compass for policy makers: technologies, impact and recommendations’ by the Strategic Policy Forum highlights the possibilities, opportunities and effects of advanced digital technologies and sets out a three-stage approach to deliver effective, successful digital experiences.

Other Commission actions

  • The European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities brings together European cities, industry leaders and citizens to improve urban life through sustainable and innovative smart solutions.
  • Join, Boost, Sustain - a declaration on joining forces to boost sustainable digital transformation in cities and communities in the EU.
  • Mission for climate-neutral and smart cities to support and promote 100 European cities in their systemic transformation towards climate-neutrality by 2030. The mission board recognises that smart technologies, data platforms and urban system modelling can improve the efficient use of resources and better decision making, but also indicates that this will only be achieved through use modern digital infrastructure, deployment of the Internet of Things and related applications at scale.
  • Many smart cities projects promote the development of cities with better public services, better use of resources and less impact on the environment, thanks to advanced technologies.
  • The Commission has set-up an interregional partenership, the 'Smart Specialisation Platform for Industrial Modernisation', to offer hands-on support for the creation of investment pipelines for cross-regional projects across the EU. The platform strengthens cooperation across and between European regions, clusters and value chains that are aligned with smart specialisation priorities.