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Smart cities

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A blurred-effect photograph of Piccadilly Circus, London.
Figure 2 Piccadilly Circus, London.

CITIE [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] (City Initiatives for Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship) is a product of a partnership between Nesta, Accenture and the Future Cities Catapult. It supports city leaders to ‘develop policy to catalyse innovation and entrepreneurship’.

If you take a look at CITIE’s website you’ll find that you’re familiar now with the partnership’s use of terminology in describing its focus. The CITIE team observed a canon of policy instruments that were emerging from a growing number of cities to support their innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems. So the aim of CITIE was to bring these together and analyse them in a systematic way.

CITIE focuses exclusively on the policy levers that city government leaders have at their disposal, equipping city leaders with a playbook (guide) to support innovation and entrepreneurship. Policy levers are measures that change the behaviour of individuals or groups.

These are the principal components of CITIE:

  • a framework for assessing how well policy supports innovation and entrepreneurship in nine key areas
  • a diagnostic tool to help cities assess how they compare to their peers
  • a package of case studies containing global best practice across the nine policy areas.

The framework identifies three key areas in which a city can support innovation and entrepreneurship.

  1. Openness: how open is the city to new ideas and businesses?
  2. Infrastructure: how does the city optimise its infrastructure for high-growth businesses?
  3. Leadership: how does the city build innovation into its own activities?

Within each of these areas it identifies roles a city can play, with city case studies.

For example, in ‘Openness’ a city can be an advocate, dealing with how the city promotes itself and its small business community to the outside world. Smart city start-ups need to invest a great deal of time and energy in building their reputation and networks. This is an area where city leaders have precisely the kind of reach and convening power that small businesses need, so by working in partnerships they can support innovation and entrepreneurship. Berlin provides extensive support for start-up companies to test out the city, allowing them to get established, operate and expand in the city at minimal cost.

Or in ‘Leadership’ a city can be a strategist. This is where the city sets a clear direction and builds the internal capabilities required to support innovation. The Smart London Plan, for example, was published by the Smart London Board to set out the role of digital technology in helping to address key city challenges such as rapid population growth and to improve Londoners’ lives.

Take a look at the CITIE tools and read more about these case studies. Perhaps your own city features as a case study? They could be helpful in developing your smart cities project, by helping you think through how you work with organisations and what support exists.