Making the case for a bold new investment programme for European cities

19.06.2018
By Graham Colclough
EIP-SCC news

The Action Cluster Chairs and Marketplace of the EIP-SCC have produced a comprehensive new paper focused on the urgent need for innovative business models and fresh sources of finance to ensure more European municipalities realise the transformative potential of smart cities. 

Towards a Joint Investment Programme for European Smart Cities,” which includes a foreword by Professor Greg Clark, Global Advisor to Cities, is a very worthwhile read for anyone interested in smart city progress. In essence, it refreshes the intentions of the Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) that was the founding paper for the EIP-SCC. The paper’s objective is to stimulate constructive dialogue that will help build investor and broader market confidence in smart city projects and ultimately speed their implementation at scale. It suggests several ways those interested can join the conversation, and indeed take purposeful action.

Now is the time to act
The imperative to accelerate adoption of transformative smart city solutions stems from the unprecedented worldwide population growth that will increasingly trigger multiple social, financial and environmental challenges. Disruptive technologies and digitisation offer urban areas in Europe and elsewhere innovative new ways of meeting those challenges -- from improving air quality and reducing congestion to promoting inclusion and removing barriers to economic growth.

This is a single-generation opportunity to stimulate profound change,” the authors state. “Decision-makers and influencers in place now must make a choice to act responsibly and sustainably to make a difference.

But the scale of change necessary to future-proof cities is greater than the public purse can stand, which is the impetus behind the paper’s call for a joint investment programme designed to encourage greater collaboration between municipal leaders, public and private investors, as well as the European Commission, Member States, industry actors, citizens and other key stakeholders.

A massive opportunity for investors
The burgeoning smart cities market provides a massive growth opportunity for investors, the paper suggests.  Yet to date, municipalities across Europe have struggled to engage in a meaningful way with investors to secure long-term private investment. 

If smart cities are to make a durable transition from small-scale pilot projects to mainstream application, city leaders will have to make a compelling case to investors,” the authors write. “Investor-city collaboration is a prerequisite of market growth.

And that will require some effort.

The paper points out that the right enabling conditions must be in place to deliver better financing outcomes. Among those enabling conditions: Changing perceptions of cities from being “too small, too slow, and too risky” -- to being attractive investment targets. The paper has advice on how to do that.

Finally, "Towards a Joint Investment Programme for European Smart Cities" offers a roadmap for obtaining long-term solutions for cities. It proposes 21 practical actions that could be taken in the short to medium term to make the vision of a joint investment programme a reality. These run the gamut from the EC working to maximise the effectiveness of the SCC01 Lighthouse programmes, to investment banks creating new smart city financing instruments, to initiatives that stimulate more blending of financial sources. 

Download the paper to learn more.

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