Business Models & Finance


Raison d'etre

There is a strong need for knowledge sharing, innovation and expertise on business models, finance & funding and procurement. 

This Business Models and Finance Action Cluster has been relaunched in October 2019, with new leadership. It will continue on the good work carried out in the past and strive to meet the evolving needs of the market to be a platform of choice for stakeholder-dialogue, and to identify and remove the obstacles for the development of a smart cities market.

Goals 2020-2022: 

  • We seek to stimulate scale through demand-aggregation, and involve demand-aggregation platforms
  • We seek to facilitate the development of tailored city capacity-building initiatives


How we will achieve:

3-Level Capacity Building:

  • Level 1: A new Self Learning Initiative which will be relevant for small and mid-size cities. We will leverage on relevant case studies and tools from any other European and global initiatives, such as the H2020 funded SCC-1 and SCIS (where these are publicly available.)
  • Level 2: On-Demand Training – delivered by the Action Cluster's current and future Initiative leads, and linked to external events
  • Level 3: Individual City Coaching via Initiative leads/supporters. This is a level which still requires shaping, and on which we are still collecting feedback. We would like to work with experts, already engaged with cities or who would like to start engaging - email us (addresses at the bottom of this page.)

Supporting Matchmaking for Finance:

  • We will facilitate demand aggregation for small to mid-size city financing. We are starting with city projects delivering standard cash-flow streams (investment/saving or revenue) and will extend to projects with public or public/private revenue streams.
  • We will facilitate the documentation of models and good practice cases to foster learning and encourage scale

Roles of the Stakeholders:

  • Cities – drive industry towards Energy Performance Contracts (EPC) business models (or similar) and engage with demand aggregation platforms for re-financing to enable cities off-balance sheet financing according to the rules on how to classify EPC in government accounts.
  • Investor – ease the way for investors to invest via intermediaries (demand aggregation platforms)
  • Industry – learn about project development process standards and engage with demand aggregation platforms on request of cities
  • Research – develop business models for complex / innovative projects making them structurally more similar to EPC project to enhance their bankability



Level 1: Self-Learning for Cities:

  • 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.
  • 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.

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



Get in touch with the Action Cluster Leadership by email: and

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



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