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Smart Cities Marketplace
25 January 2023

Small Giants go big in Barcelona

Small Giants

The Barcelona Smart City EXPO and World Congress (SCEWC) included an Agora session on 15th November: "Small Giants" – Collaborating to Transform Mobility Habits.

This topical and productive discussion involved two of our Small Giants community of small to small to medium-sized cities: Ger Corbett, CEO of Sandyford Business District (IRE) and Tomaz Lanisek, Development Manager from Kranj (SI). They were joined by Leo Huberts from DG Move and Phoebe Smith from Patrizia Investment. The session was moderated by Graham Colclough a member of the SCM Advisory Board.

The discussion built on the considerable preparatory work that more than a dozen of the Small Giants has completed over recent months to identify their portfolio of ‘no regrets’ Mobility Islands.

What is exciting about this initiative is the commitment that the community has to collaborate on developing common solutions to shared challenges. The Small Giants community has a common sense that opportunities to transform their cities are harder to come by in terms of funding streams, internal resource constraints and lack of market interest. The transition to a new mobility future is definitely a shared priority where “together is better”.

By working together, these smaller cities can share knowledge and resource, compare and contrast needs and develop and test common approaches with more confidence. For example, engaging society in co-creation activities or developing the costs and business cases. Perhaps most importantly, by developing a functionally common solution, the cities can create a productive market and better engage industry by de-risk activities for themselves and those investing in the solutions. In short, the Small Giants approach is simply better, faster and cheaper.

The SCEWC also provided an exciting opportunity for the visiting city teams to meet other cities, hear insights from congress speakers and meet with innovators, investors and other stakeholders.

The potential for scale activity is very clear, and moving forward, those engaged Small Giants seek to attract a combination of EU call grant funds, SCM matchmaking and institutional funds to stimulate ongoing collaboration and, more importantly, pragmatic action.  

This mobility transition initiative is one of 7 themes identified as areas for joint activity through a Small Giants leadership survey undertaken in 2021. identified as areas for joint activity. The survey outputs include a shared agreement that smaller cities can move more swiftly than their larger counterparts in order to demonstrate improvements and prove benefits.

We have strong hopes that during 2023 we can clearly show the benefits all around of this initiative to stimulate further collaboration amongst this highly relevant city community – remember, smaller cities are where most Europeans live and they lack resources, funds, and access to the market. So these steps to address these gaps will make a material difference in the market.