When we think of smart cities, we tend to think in futuristic terms. We often use the language and iconography of futurism to express our visions of what a smart city should look like. But we should also look to the past for lessons and examples of how previous generations handled the challenges of planning and developing urban spaces.
Urban innovators with smart city aspirations rely on university knowledge and resources when addressing complex issues. Through access to research and thought leadership on urban challenges, smart cities benefit from partnerships with universities.
The Changing Face of Urban Innovation
When contemplating the need for urban improvement, cities once looked for efficiency gains, cost savings, and incremental, low-risk innovation to enhance local government operations. Today, urban residents demand much more from city leaders. Wicked urban problems such as homelessness, lack of affordable housing, pollution, congestion, inequality, social and digital exclusion, and environmental threats require bold thinking and a new paradigm in public sector innovation - made possible through collaboration with universities.
Earlier this year, bee smart city partner Leading Cities, a global network for Smart City growth and collaboration, has launched a global Smart City startup accelerator program that provides potential capital from a network of investors as well as the tools and knowledge of how to do business with cities. In this year’s edition 27 semi-finalists have been selected from more than 550 applications from over 40 countries. From this global pack of urban innovators, three startups emerged as AcceliCITY winners - one for each track of the AcceliCITY program (clean energy, city visualization and general tracks).