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09 February 2021

Smart tech to drive growth of green economy as cities trigger €250 million investment

The logo from the Sharing Cities programme

London, Lisbon, Milan, Bordeaux, Burgas and Warsaw have triggered investment of €250 million in smart technologies driving the shift to greener and energy efficient cities as part of the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme, Sharing Cities.

Ten low-carbon technology solutions – including retrofitting buildings with energy-saving measures, developing sustainable energy management systems for new and existing developments, shared electric mobility and smart street infrastructure – have already hit 50 per cent of their target investment from a mix of public and private funds.

Launched in 2016, Sharing Cities is a major international smart cities project addressing some of the most pressing urban challenges facing today’s cities such as energy use, low carbon transport and buildings, and harnessing data for the good of the city.

The programme brings together 34 partners from across government, industry and academia – and is on course to meet its ambitious target of €500 million by 2021 as each city redoubles its focus on attracting investment into technologies they have been developing over recent years.

Green technologies have led to significant change across the cities, which will continue to maintain close links in advancing research and development efforts in this area in the coming years.

Building improvements to reduce energy consumption and electric mobility schemes – such as e-bike and e-car sharing, vehicle charging points and smart parking – make up a majority of the investment across the cities, with further funding expected for developing carbon neutral neighbourhoods and building mobile apps to help people reduce energy consumption in their daily lives.

By developing business models that can be scaled up and replicated across European cities, Sharing Cities has supported the growth of a new green smart infrastructure market, which is a critical step in achieving the objectives set out in the European Green Deal and the Paris Agreement.

The long-term financial commitments from the six partner cities in decarbonising both the transport and energy sectors demonstrate that the benefits far outweigh the technical and financial risks and have become attractive for large scale investments.

In London, the Royal Borough of Greenwich is expanding the installation of a low carbon heating system across its social housing stock and embedding decentralised renewable energy systems as standard. Milan is influencing the adoption of urban data platforms in other Italian cities. Lisbon continues to expand its soft infrastructure solutions for e-mobility across the city, with cycle lanes expected to double to cover almost 200km by 2022.

Of the six partner cities, Burgas has captured the largest amount of investment to date with its retrofit portfolio. The city continues to broaden its plans to scale-up most of the Sharing Cities solutions, notably in electric mobility and an improved urban data sharing platform. 

All six cities have demonstrated the benefits that using smart technologies and working together can have on carbon reductions, service delivery and wellbeing. 

The process of moving from pilot to scale-up has been captured and published in a series of five Playbooks available for other European cities to adopt. The playbooks have been designed to help municipalities and local authorities considering using smart technology to deliver better services, covering a range of topics from improving urban mobility to engaging communities in sustainable lifestyles.

Nathan Pierce, Programme Director for Sharing Cities said:

"Sharing Cities was designed to build investor confidence in the smart city marketplace. With €250 million of investment secured, the programme demonstrates the value and impact of smart, green infrastructure and also of international collaboration. We will continue to take significant steps to engage with other peer cities, so that many more communities across Europe and beyond can experience the benefits that smart technology brings to city life”. 

The work on Business Models & Financing in Sharing Cities was led by Graham Colclough, who is also chair of the Smart Cities Marketplace's Action Cluster on Integrated Infrastructures & Processes