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Smart Cities Marketplace


This initiative contributes to the Smart Cities Marketplace:

  • by causing discussion between experts and city peers around observations made from analysing  real city projects; and
  • by developing business models that become a tool which are used and matured by cities through their projects


In order to achieve this objective we engage with cities, their service providers and researchers. Cities might be wanting to scale their own projects or to replicate successful other city solutions.

The various publicly funded city projects as well as the private investments being made in smart cities are opportunities to:

  • support the build-up of the energy to propel European cities to tackle climate change and the quality of life in cities, for example through energy efficient buildings, urban mobility, connected infrastructure and also by supporting biodiversity;

  • support the Action Clusters with insights from real-world projects and from that which can be shared with us from other EU-funded smart city projects;


  • In 2021, a collaboration was struck with ESCO-in-a-box, which started with a publicly funded project and a local community energy group in Oxford to deliver energy efficiency projects for small businesses (SMEs )using an established network of Approved Contractors, providing a ‘one-stop-shop service that is simple, cost-effective, and as undemanding on a business’s time as possible’. SMEs want to reduce their energy use and save money but lack the time or resources to unlock the wide range of financial, environmental, and social gains provided by energy efficiency upgrades. Municipalities want to help this change happen and use ESCO-in-a-box as a systemic way to do it. With ESCO-in-a-box we are working to:
    a) understand the process of systematising a project so that it can become a tool-kit, which is what was done to develop ESCO-IN-A-BOX
    b) understand how ESCO-IN-A-BOX works as a toolkit and invite discussion about opportunities and challenges that SCM community see with applying this in their areas of expertise or geographical areas
  • The Positive Energy Districts fact sheet was developed by the SCM Secretariat in collaboration with the Business Models & Finance Action Cluster and the Sustainable Districts and Business Models Action Cluster. It collects valuable resource about the topic, and attempts to fill the gap for quick access to trustworthy and independent information on PEDs.

  • Every year (2021-2022): we will set-up two ad-hoc working groups which will each produce a business model white-paper that will be released in Creative Commons Licence.

  • Every year (2021-2022): we will organise three City Wisdom workshops with active ad-hoc working groups to monitor progress, assist with take-up and plan promotion of successful case studies.

Target audience

  • Lighthouse cities
  • Small- and medium-sized cities, including but not limited to H2020-SCC1 fellow cities
  • City service providers, e.g. city developers, regional utilities, ESCOs and technical solution implementation providers, procurement experts
  • Financing platforms
  • Banks and investment funds (also acting as re-financing entities of financing platforms)
  • Policy representatives (EU, national, regional)
  • Public agencies (energy agencies, development agencies)
  • Academia and researchers who want to engage in analysing city data and developing bankable business models for complex / innovative city projects

Desired outcomes

  • Any Action Cluster is only as good as it can link real world projects with those who want to support them and learn from them. Departing from this principle, our main desired outcome is to develop "City Wisdom" in a knowledge hub for Business Models and Finance from real-world smart city projects.
  • The seeds for a cross-cutting platform for city mayors / deputy mayors and city players in industry, academia, civil society to send the message that it is time to work together and achieve together. To accelerate action in cities where 70+% of the EU population lives, so we can meet the sustainability targets as Europeans and be a very required lighthouse for the rest of the world!
  • Ad-hoc working Groups: Desk research, analysis, city-driven and expert-authored/reviewed white papers that capture the salient knowledge in acute areas where business models are already proven in some city projects. Short burst (6-month) projects starting with the lowest-hanging fruit to prove effectiveness.
  • City Wisdom workshops: Discussion in wider audiences, webinars, commitment to try out in city projects and refine in an agile manner the findings. A foundation for the wisdom that is found only in cities. This will become a live reference point.
  • Synergies with other Action Clusters and the other EU-funded smart cities projects: The BM&F Action Cluster is only a horizontal action cluster. Every project that will be initiated in this initiative will be consulted with the other Action Cluster / Initiative Leadership to identify the best low-hanging fruit. We have also been working with the SCM Secretariat and the European Commission to develop a relationship with EU-funded Lighthouse and fellow cities that will allow us to act as a platform to disseminate their publicly-available findings on business models and finance. We share some of it in the Resources section below.
  • We also want to reach out and work with other networks that are operating in this space. Contact us!

Where you can get engaged

The Action Clusters are run by experts that voluntarily contribute their time towards this common project. We will be working on the following tasks where we will need expert resources. Contact us if this is interesting for you.

1. Identify and collect a complete collection of business models and finance analysis from city projects such as the ones we have already identified in the Resources section below (desk research, for example starting from H2020 SCC1 projects). Please share with us anything which you feel we should add to the Resources section below.

2. Assist the BM&F Action Cluster / Initiative Leadership to analyse the overlaps and distinguishing features of the findings of these studies

3. Assist the BM&F Action Cluster / Initiative Leadership to identify research questions which can be handled through working groups of this Initiative

4. Bring forward city projects whose management is happy to collaborate with us to accelerate cities’ success in reaching the clean energy transition goals, the mobility and transport vision, the climate goals and other commonly sighted European goals. This initiative gives a platform to pioneer cities to:

  • Identify and rope in the city mayors / deputy mayors and city players in industry, academia, civil society with whom we can commence a dialogue of sharing what we learnt in of pioneering cities such as the EU-funded SCC1 Lighthouses projects. This leading to top level ambassadorship for sustainable city players working together, and a clear message to officers in the respective stakeholder ‘units’ to work together and achieve together.
  • Liaise with the officers in the respective stakeholder ‘units’ to identify the areas where quick gains can be made – starting from what has been synthesised in Business Model deliverables (as above) and also where rich data exists on what was bought, the decisions behind those purchases, the Returns on Investment, the models for public financing and / or public-private partnerships, etc….

  • Bring the available knowledge to the Action Cluster / Initiative Leadership knowledge and support a discussion with relevant other Action Cluster / Initiative leaderships and the European Commission to rapidly decide and pick the lowest hanging fruit where a 6-month research and analysis project can result in business model and / or financing insights which can cause cross-learning and maturity of the domain.


Get in touch with the Initiative Leadership by email:

We are based in Brussels in offices very close to the European Commission's, and will be happy to meet you. Get in touch.


Self-Learning for Cities:

  • The Positive Energy Districts fact sheet was developed by the SCM Secretariat In collaboration with the Business Models & Finance Action Cluster and the Sustainable Districts and Business Models Action Cluster. It collects valuable resource about the topic, and attempts to fill the gap for quick access to trustworthy and independent information on PEDs. The Positive Energy Districts fact sheet can be found here and under the Documents section.
  • Post-COVID-19: How could the unusual emergency responses to this crisis start to point the way to increased resilience for us all and to long-term sustainability? The cases on the Covid-19 Responses Climate Transformation platform are gathered as they can provide inspiration for the transformative system-change.
  • This comprehensive online guide offers extensive information on funding the circular economy in the urban context. The project is funded by the European Investment Advisory Hub, which is a partnership between the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Commission. Its 100+ funds, its circular case studies, and its educational information and library provide ample opportunities to enhance your knowledge on this subject.
  • Joint Paper of the Action Cluster Leads about investment in cities: "Towards a joint investment programme for European smart cities".
  • The Celsius project supports cities in the decarbonisation of their heating and cooling systems. This is a link to the Celsius Heating and Cooling Business Models and Finance Toolbox.
  • In September 2017, Eurostat issued a Guidance Note on how “energy performance contracting” (EPCs), in certain circumstances, can be recorded “off balance sheet” for government. In order to bring clarity on the practical application of the 2017 Guidance Note, Eurostat and the EIB have worked together to produce this guide.
  • List of H2020-SCC-1 projects (check link on left menu "Funded Project List"): 2014/15; 2016/17; 2018/19/20 Each of these projects deliver reports which are of interest to Business Models and Finance aspects, and these links can help you find the right people to talk to.

Training Sessions

  • Webinar of the 18 June 2020: Delivery models, funding & procurement for smart cities [Description] [Recording];

  • Webinar of the 7 May 2020: Facilitating project finance through standardised risk assessment [Description] [Recording];

  • Webinar of the 21 April 2020: Looking for Investment – What to Expect:  Smart City Project Due Diligence [Description] [Recording].


Tools syndicated from the EU H2020 Lighthouse Smart City Programme (non-comprehensive list):

If you are a Lighthouse Smart City Project and want your BM&F tools promoted here, please contact us.

Archived tools (no longer updated by this Action Cluster):


Derrick Pisani
Initiative Lead


Fact sheet_ Positive Energy Districts 2021 04 27 (1).pdf
(575.02 KB - PDF)
Presentation Urban City Webinar 27 Apr 2021.pdf
(2.61 MB - PDF)
SCM-the-business-model-canvas PEDs Webinar 27 Apr 2021.docx
(83.55 KB - DOCX)
AlexESCO-in-a-box -Action Cluster -Nov10.pdf
(1.79 MB - PDF)