The European Commission’s 100 Intelligent Cities Challenge

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The European Commission’s 100 Intelligent Cities Challenge

The City’s Digital Transformation is a scientific area that has emerged and been studied by numerous scholars and scientists, since 2004. Due to its significance, it has attracted an increasing attention by scientists, governments, and businesses. This is something easily proved if someone search for “digital transformation” in every major scientific search engine.

According to Gong and Ribiere, a unified definition of Digital Transformation is that it is about “A fundamental change process, enabled by digital technologies, that aims to bring radical improvement and innovation to an entity [e.g., an organization, a business network, an industry, or society], to create value for its stakeholders by strategically leveraging its key resources and capabilities” [Cheng Gong and Vincent Ribiere, 2021. Developing a unified definition of digital transformation. Technovation, InPress DOI:]

It’s a challenging and complex process, which demands both the leading and dedicated role of the local government, AND the engagement and commitment of the local stakeholders, on a commonly agreed vision and plan. The European Commission launched two large scale initiatives, to help cities take advantage of cutting-edge ICT and to provide them with guidance and support, to design and implement digital transformation strategies. The 1st was in 2017 – the Digital Cities Challenge (DCC) and the 2nd in 2020 – the Intelligent Cities Challenge (ICC).

The ICC initiative is the successor to DCC. It has a duration of three years and supports 136 European cities – all of them are core cities with similar process and requirements and supports them to use cutting-edge ICT for intelligent, green and socially responsible recovery. In that way a network of cities will be formed, in which the cities will “become engines of economic recovery by creating new business opportunities, advancing sustainable developments and enhancing their cities both digitally and socially”.

For a better implementation process, the ICC, with the experience from the DCC, defined some horizontal activities (thematic tracks) to engage the cities, together with some tools to support them implement the identified Digital Transformation strategies. The five thematic tracks, along with transversal services, help cities have new business opportunities, advancing sustainable development and enhance both digitally and socially. The tracks are:

  1. Citizen participation and digitization of public administration
  2. Green economy and local green deals
  3. Upskilling and reskilling
  4. Green and digital transition in tourism
  5. Supply chains, logistics and economics of mobility

The transversal advisory service covers different areas, like:

  • Access to finance – a way to access different sources of funding
  • Innovative and social public procurement – helps the wide diffusion of these solutions by incentivizing industry investment and research
  • And open data platforms – make cities familiar with data concepts, workshops and e-learning materials

By participating in such initiative, the cities will be helped in achieving a range of goals in different areas, such as:

  • Transforming industry, green manufacturing and clean production
  • Growing start-ups, SMEs and social economy
  • Transforming and greening construction, housing and urban management
  • Smart and sustainable tourism
  • Smart and green mobility and transport
  • E-Government and digitizing public services
  • Enhancing citizen participation and connectivity
  • Promoting health and wellbeing of citizens
  • Supporting safety and security
  • Innovative education and training for up- and re-skilling
  • Waste management and circular economy
  • Scaling up renewable energy solutions and energy-efficiency
  • Efficient management of water and water systems
  • Sustainable use and management of natural resources
  • Sustainable and resilient food systems
  • Climate resilience and disaster management.

More information is on the official site of the ICC initiative: