Smart Accelerator

The Smart Accelerator identified, supported and accelerated the formation, packaging and financing of 14 major Scottish project partnerships that support Scotland’s transition to a low carbon economy and society through creating smarter and more sustainable cities, communities and islands.

Supporting 14 Projects across Scotland

ECCI's Smart Accelerator was an ERDF partnership project that ran over 20 months from October 2013 to May 2015 and offered intensive and early support to eight smart city, three sustainable island and three smart mobility projects. Each project was chosen in order to create fully packaged partnerships ready for investment. Individual projects received advice and practical support at the earliest stages, ranging from funding, management, marketing and communications, to industry, academic and international expertise. ECCI and the Smart Accelerator offered a range of opportunities to benefit projects including industrial and technological expertise, SME networking, business and commercial know-how and partnerships.

More information on the Smart Accelerator

The 18-month, £1.2 million Smart Accelerator aimed to accelerate the development of major smart city and sustainable island projects in Scotland - based on international good practice, working with innovative and agile small and medium-sized enterprises, and drawing on the expert know-how of Scottish companies and Universities.

This ERDF funded partnership was supported by the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Scottish Cities Alliance, Transport Scotland and the University of Edinburgh.

The Smart Accelerator partnership assesed and prioritised projects while also challenging the business sector to offer new, ground-breaking ideas and projects.

Project proposals included the integration of data from increasingly instrumented and interconnected city region systems on energy, mobility, health, food and waste/water provision to support more effective products and services for Scottish citizens.

The Smart Accelerator provided staff resources and 'know how' working with project teams and accelerated project proposals to the point where they are independently investable.

If you are interested in the Smart Accelerator and would like more information please contact Siobhan Dunn at or Ed Criag at

Our Approach

The Smart Accelerator created an enabling framework for 'smart' city regions and sustainable islands projects to be delivered in Scotland. We did this by:

  • Combining resources across projects  to create economies of scale

  • Stimulating  international knowledge exchange and competitiveness;

  • Engaging with and partnering innovative SMEs

  • Using the  Scottish research base to support competitive ideas

  • Coordinating multiple public sector agency support.

We worked to move projects to a position where they were ready for implementation financing by: developing innovative pathways for idea creation and support; providing additional capability and capacity to drive projects forward; facilitating access to new financing options; and building innovative partnerships and business models.

Key Outcome of the Smart Accelerator was to have good practice ‘lighthouse’ projects, focused on collaborative business models, not technology, and a broad ecosystem of service providers drawing on and applying knowledge developed elsewhere to reap benefits for Scottish cities and regions.

Selected projects were at the intersection of mobility, energy and the use of proven technology to enable smarter and more sustainable cities, communities and islands.

How We Help SMEs

The Smart Accelerator actively engaged with the SME community in three ways:

  • Gathering and including project ideas from SMEs on the long list for evaluation
  • Involving SMEs with selected projects by either using and paying for SME's expertise and knowledge to move projects forward or by using SME products within the proposed supply chain.
  • Creating networks of opportunity for sharing expertise and knowledge within Scottish SMEs and ensuring that project planning had access to Scottish expertise, products and services from the start.

How the Smart Accelerator is Managed

The resources and funding provided by the Smart Accelerator were managed by the Programme Manager, Jackie Smith, who was appointed by ECCI. Jackie and the Smart Accelerator team were responsible for managing the portfolio of projects, the overall budget, and preparing and presenting regular status reports to the Smart Accelerator Steering Group.  

Selection Process

A long list of projects was initially compiled for evaluation against the Smart Accelerator inclusion criteria. Projects were both submitted to, and actively sought out by, the Smart Accelerator and ECCI. The Smart Cities/Sustainable Islands Steering Group was then asked to determine a short list of candidates from 280 possible projects and ideas. The Smart Accelerator looked for a balanced portfolio of projects to make the best use of the available resources, to ensure that the strategic objectives were met, and to demonstrate to partners and key stakeholders that the programme added value.

From the final short list projects were then invited to submit detailed project plans and to undergo a panel interview by the steering group. From this process the final list of successful projects was determined. All projects were notified and the final list of awarded projects was announced in JUly 2014. Where a project was unsuccessful it was signposted to alternative funding methods and support where possible.

The initial project selection process was completed in May 2014 and a final list of successful projects was announced in the Summer of 2014.

Evaluation Criteria

The projects were evaluated against the following criteria:

• Strategic alignment
• Sustainability
• Economic impact
• Proven technology
• Invest ability/Market attractiveness
• EU funding potential
• International application

Panel interviews were conducted to gather more detailed information for the final evaluation and selection.

Commitment to the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities (EIP-SSC)

ECCI is committed to supporting the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities (EIP-SSC). It builds on the Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) of the EIP-SCC and it is addressed to all cities and industry partners that would like to bring forward a concrete action in support of one or more focus areas of the SIP over the next year or a longer period of time, linking energy, transport and ICT at city level.

Often, cities or companies have good ideas but struggle to find the right partners. This leads to delays and creates additional costs. Becoming part of the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities is all about finding the right partners, facilitating synergies between city authorities and companies together with other stakeholders in order to facilitate access to finance.

More information and supporting documents can be found here

Smart Cities Operational Implementation Plan

The first draft of the Operational Implementation Plan (OIP) was published by the Sherpa Group for the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities (EIP-SCC). The OIP is an accompanying document to the Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) of the EIP-SCC. The SIP sets out the direction and objectives for the partnership, while the OIP outlines recommendations and actions following the framework of 11 priorities set out in the SIP:

  • Sustainable urban mobility

  • Districts and the built environment

  • Integrated infrastructures

  • Citizen focus

  • Policy and regulation

  • Integrated planning and management

  • Knowledge sharing

  • Baselines, key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics

  • Open data

  • Standards and business models

  • Finance and procurement. 


By Ed Craig, Head of Enterprise & Innovation, ECCI

“Smart Cities” is one of those terms that is often spoken about and regularly aspired to, but rarely achieved. Whilst we have seen a revolution in information and communication technology over the last 30 years, the practicalities of applying this technology to improve outcomes of complex, overlapping social issues, such as energy and resource use and mobility, have proved much more difficult. This often reflects the challenge of bringing together multiple public and private sector stakeholders, with different agendas and different timescales, around a common challenge.

In Scotland there are numerous existing, planned but stalled, or potential projects that can be defined as ‘smart city region’ or ‘smart island’ initiatives. Terminology aside, it is considered a priority area for development agencies. Significant public and private funding is available to develop and implement well-constructed projects. Research evidence points to the fact that cities are the key engines for economic growth, both for cities and their local regions. And many cities have significant opportunities to improve their economic, social and environmental performance to the betterment of its citizens.

Read the full article here: