Scotsman Opinion Piece: ECCI's Smart Accelerator needs SMEs

06 March 2014

ECCI's Smart Accelerator project was highlighted in the Scotsman newspaper this week.

Ed Craig, ECCI's Enterprise & Innovation lead, drew attention to the role of SMEs in the success of future Smart City and Sustainable Islands projects and in Scotland's charge towards a sustainable, low carbon future.

ECCI's latest project, the 18 month £1.2 million Smart Accelerator, aims to accelerate the development and acceleration 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 project is supported by the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, SCDI and the University of Edinburgh.

The partnership will assess and prioritise a list of preferred projects over the coming three months, whilst also challenging the business sector to offer new, ground-breaking projects.

Emerging project proposals include 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 partnership will then provide the necessary staff resources and “know how” to work with the project teams and accelerate the project proposals to the point where they are independently investable.

If you are interested in the project, would like to become involved or simply would like more information please contact Ed Craig at ed.craig@ed.ac.uk.

Ed Craig: SMEs must be included in innovation

Thurs March 5th 2014

THE term “smart city” is often spoken about and regularly aspired to but rarely achieved.

Whilst we have seen a revolution in information and communication technology over the past 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 languages, agendas and timescales, around a common challenge.

Cities are key engines for economic growth, both for the cities themselves, their local regions and their citizens. However, it is also important not to focus solely on cities and lose the opportunity to create a legacy of sustainable economic development in our rural, peripheral regions and island communities.

In Scotland there are numerous stalled or potential projects that can be defined as “smart city region” or “smart island” initiatives. Terminology aside, it is considered a priority area internationally for regional authorities, as well as development and enterprise agencies. Significant public and private funding is available to develop and implement well-planned projects, ranging from Scottish Government and public sector initiatives to large corporations and specialist investment agencies such as the Green Investment Bank (GIB).

In addition, international development agencies such as the IDB (Inter-American Development Bank) are seeking expertise and good practices to accelerate the development of up to 100 “smart and sustainable cities and communities” in the Caribbean, Central and Southern America. The EU have prioritised smart and sustainable cities funding through its prestigious Horizon 2020 funding (€80 billion in funding to innovative projects between 2014-2020). Accessing funding is not therefore the key barrier to progressing successful smart projects in Scotland.

Read the article in full