The UK Technology Strategy Board, which has the remit of boosting UK growth and productivity through technology innovation, is investing up to £25m in a large-scale demonstration of future cities. The ideas is that the project will show the additional value that can be created by integrating city systems.
Cities will be invited to bid for funding to carry out a feasibility study and develop their demonstrator project proposal. Up to 20 grants of £50k will be available with 100% funding dependent on a publicly available report of the study.
Cities can subsequently submit a proposal for the large-scale project. To achieve the scale required to effectively test the value of integrating city systems, the plan is to fund a single demonstrator project. A total of £24m is available, but a condition of the 100% public funding is that the results of the project are made publicly available and are widely disseminated.
The purpose of the investment by the Technology Strategy Board, which was established by the Government in 2007 and is sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), is to enable businesses to test new solutions for smart cities. It will allow UK cities to explore approaches to improving the local economy and quality of life, whilst reducing the environmental footprint and increasing resilience to environmental change.
The competition for funding is now open – there are full details here.
Well it’s a pleasant surprise to see that the government is actually investing in smart city proposals. Given the lack of investment for growth and the backtracking on most green initiatives, neither would seem a priority – perhaps the fact that it covers both is the reason it exists at all.
This is an area where the private sector is way ahead, because ICT companies can see the business potential. For example, in March, Birmingham City Council was awarded a Smarter Cities Challenge grant from IBM. This is a competitive grant programme in which IBM is awarding a total of $50m worth of technology and services to 100 municipalities worldwide between 2011 and 2013. And just three weeks ago Intel announced the creation of an Institute for Sustainable Connected Cities research, based in London.
None the less, with all the findings being made public and £25m going into one extensive project, the Technology Strategy Board’s competition should help to raise awareness and stimulate interest further.