Suvi Sundquist: The inspirational Witty City

6/29/2015
What does Smart City mean to you? The virtual dimension of services and neighbourhoods? Wi-Fi available across town and the opportunity to work in an inspiring urban space while sipping your favourite coffee? Quick access to public services, such as a dentist's appointment? Efficient transport services, which makes your own car redundant? A solar panel that allows you to become an electricity producer? Or perhaps parks, cycle lanes, seaside walkways, the Restaurant Day food festival, or your own urban veggie patch? What does your Witty City look, sound, smell and feel like?

I took over as Tekes Witty City programme manager following Virpi Mikkonen's appointment to strategic programme manager. After a week of induction, I have come to understand that even though we're talking about a global trend, each city makes its own interpretations of how to be smart. The Witty City programme has involved working with Finnish cities to create solutions for new urban environments. Next, we intend to put our heads together with Finnish companies to find a way of turning these innovations into international business.

According to Frost&Sullivan, the global smart city market value is approximately EUR 1,400 billion. What represents the sharpest international competitive edge in Finnish smart city business? And how can we support the global growth of Finnish companies through the Witty City programme? These are some of the questions we will address in the autumn brainstorming session with business representatives.

Another topic to be discussed is the opportunities the Horizon2020 Framework Programme offers in Europe. Submitting an application for an ICT project could be your opportunity of putting together a European dream team to carry out the innovation project of your dreams.

In October, Shanghai will host a Nordic Design and Innovation Week. Which solutions would you like to present to the Chinese? Did you know that Finland and China are already involved in ICT innovation cooperation, and that Finnish cities are twinned with cities in China? The opportunities available through these networks will be explored in the early autumn.

And, of course, November is the time for Slush, the biggest get-together for growth companies and investors in Northern Europe. I assume many of you will be attending. Perhaps some of you would like to prepare for the event together? Would you like to get some tips on how to proceed with investors, or practise your pitch? Also in November, we will join Finnish cities attending the Smart City Expo to be held in Barcelona. We are looking for 15 companies with an innovative product they want to show the world. If your company is interested in participating in the Finnish Pavilion, don't hesitate to get in touch!

Suvi Sundquist, the new Witty City programme manager, holds an MSc in Technology, lives in the city, relies on car-sharing to drive her kids around, and owns too many smart devices. You can also find Suvi on Twitter @SuviSundquist

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