The sustainable, intelligent urban environment is moving closer
STRING has recently been accepted as a member of the EU network European Innovation Partnership for Smart Cities and Communities (EIP-SCC) – a network that will make it easier to create and implement intelligent and sustainable urban solutions.

The STRING network has been accepted as a member of the European Innovation Partnership for Smart Cities and Communities (EIP-SCC). The focus of this network is to share best practice, and create and implement innovative solutions to urban challenges, without this affecting the environment.

Jacob Vestergaard, Managing Director of STRING, is positive towards the membership and explains how STRING was successful in becoming a member through its focus on growth and sustainability: "We are one of the world's first ever organisations to have created a cross-border green growth strategy. We want a type of growth that is driven by sustainability and the green aspect, which is what we have explained in the green growth strategy -which complies with both national and European strategies", he says.

STRING is already working to implement this vison through the current project development of the project 'Eco-friendly Highway', which aims to establish quick-charge infrastructure for renewable fuels for cars in the whole corridor.

Making intelligent solutions a reality 

The point of the EIP-SCC is to implement intelligent urban solutions in three areas: energy production, use and distribution; mobility and transport; and information and communications technology.

These areas are closely interlinked, which the EIP- SCC aims to use to its advantage to create new interdisciplinary options and solutions, contributing to a reduction of Co2 emissions and meeting the EU 20-20-20 targets. EIP sets the framework for the design and implementation of new solutions, as well as the adjustment of existing regulations.

Jacob Vestergaard hopes that the EIP-SCC will help strengthen some of the businesses within the STRING region: "I hope that our membership will also have a knock-on effect on the many businesses in the STRING corridor who work with sustainability and energy - some of the competences in which we are amongst the best in Europe", he says.

Growth and employment 

The STRING network is important to the inhabitants of our region, as it contributes to creating employment opportunities and sustainability. The six STRING partners can through their membership in the EIP look forward to some more potential wins. A particular focus on the implementation of sustainable city environments will strengthen the links between the urban cities and the more peripheral and remote areas.

Vestergaard stresses the importance of being active in a field in which innovative solutions are developed: "It is important to be a part of the EU arenas in which innovation in the fields of sustainability and city development takes place, both seen from a financial and learning aspect. It creates the best opportunities for creating competitive products in our businesses, which I am convinced will have a positive effect on the STRING environment as well as economy", says Vestergaard.

Cluster development

Six so called action clusters have been developed as part of the EIP- SCC, where actors with similar competences and interests will be gathered in clusters. The six action clusters are: Sustainable Districts and Built Environment, Policy and Regulations/Integrated planning, Sustainable Urban Transport, Integrated infrastructure and processes, Business models and Citizen Focus.

The purpose of these clusters is to promote a close and operational cooperation and exchange of best practice. This will also create some new business opportunities through matchmaking and financing for public-private partnerships. Finally, the action clusters also provide an opportunity to influence European politics, regulation and potential Horizon 2020 calls on Smart Cities. The idea is that innovative solutions within some of the major societal challenges will be implemented faster.

Whilst there is no EU funding attached to the clusters, there are several EU programmes, such as Horizon 2020, which provides financial support to some of the prioritised areas.

The clusters will be up and running at a kick-off meeting in Brussels on the 9th of October - which is when the actors in the respective action clusters will be announced. The EIP application process closed in mid-June, after which 369 members have been accepted, gathering over 2500 actors; all of which will be published on the 15th of September.

The strengthening of STRING will especially be felt through a greater degree of:

• Visibility: involved in further initiatives a at European level.
• Collaborate with others actors to create new ideas.
• Increased knowledge sharing, including sharing best practices.
• Partnership between EIP actors, thereby creating cost saving solutions or new business opportunities.

As such, STRING will strengthen its future strategic position through:

• STRING and our partners will be better prepared to apply for potential future calls under Horizon 2020.
• STRING will be better placed to influence the formulation of EU calls and policies regarding Smart Cities and Communities.
• Participation in the EIP is a good opportunity to increase STRINGs visibility at the European level.