Bridging the gap: Innovation Procurement for real-world urban challenges

Learnings from the Barcelona SmartCity Expo World Congress

The Barcelona SmartCity Expo World Congress stands as an evidence to the potential for innovation in our cities. This international event took place on 7.-8. November 2023 and attracted loads of visitors. No wonder. Akin to a futuristic city superstore, it showcased the most advanced solutions for tomorrow’s urban environments. From smart mobility to urban lighting, waste management, cybersecurity, and policy making modelling, these innovations promise a brighter future.

However, it’s crucial to ensure that the top-notch technologies are interconnected and contribute to solving real-world issues in a meaningful way. It’s legit to ask ourselves: Is innovation sometimes too distant from today’s pressing issues?

The truth is that innovation, can sometimes feel disconnected from the immediate and wide problems faced by urban communities. While innovative technologies and solutions are crucial for the cities of the future, they must also address the challenges we face today on a grand scale.

Innovation Procurement – Linking the technology with intelligent solutions

One of the key tools in bridging this gap is innovation procurement. By leveraging the power of innovation procurement, cities can actively engage with businesses and innovators to find solutions to their immediate challenges. Rather than just focusing on the latest tech trends, innovation procurement connects technology and smart solutions to the pressing needs of cities and communities.

Innovation procurement encourages a two-way dialogue between cities and innovators. It enables cities to communicate their specific problems and challenges, and in turn, innovators can offer tailored solutions.

Interconnected solutions for urban challenges

Larger cities, with their growing populations, need holistic services and forward-thinking approaches that actually address today’s problems. This requires a blend of creativity, pragmatism, and a deep understanding of urban life.

The future of innovation in cities lies in the coordinated integration of technologies and greener services, where smart mobility is not just a fun ride but a means to alleviate traffic congestion and reduce emissions. Urban lighting is not just about aesthetics but about enhancing security and energy efficiency. Waste management goes beyond the end use, focusing on the sources, distribution and consumers’ best practices. Policy making is not compartmentalised but a full-spectrum modelling tool.

The BUILD project was proud to be part of the Expo, a melting pot of ideas and inspiration, with conferences and discussions featuring experts from various sectors. We were there not just to present our project. But also, to connect the dots among innovators, aiming to address urban challenges in a practical way.

By focusing on interconnected solutions that bridge the gap between futuristic visions and present-day challenges, with the aid of innovation procurement, we can truly build smarter, more sustainable cities that work for everyone.

Keep following the BUILD project to stick to this mission.

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Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.