Tallinn University of Technology

Smart city centre of excellence organized an international challenge to find great science intensive ideas to be developed and piloted in real urban environments. 71 ideas were proposed by the deadline of Nov 6 and 2-4 ideas will be selected to start in 2021.

We, TalTech from Estonia and Aalto University from Finland, have been looking for ideas to make the following domains in the cities smarter: mobility, energy, built environment, governance and data. There has to be at least two cities involved into each pilot project. One of these has to be from Estonia and the second could be from another country. We expect that world level research and scalable prototypes would be the results of the projects.

FinEst Twins Smart City of Excellence has been given the mandate by the European Commission and the Estonian Ministry of Research and Education to carry out 10 research intensive pilot projects targeting real life challenges and have remarkable impact for the cities. 15 million euros has been granted to make it happen during 2021–2027. 2-4 ideas will be selected from this 1st round and will start in 2021. The similar challenges will take place also in the following 3-4 years.

The biggest number of ideas has been proposed in the domain of mobility - 26. Quite equal number of projects came from the three domains: energy 15, data 13 and built environment and city planning 11. Six ideas were targeting the governance challenge: “Public services are not available to all target groups in a user-friendly way”. In many cases data and governance issues were targeted parallel to the mobility, built environment and energy challenges. The challenge “Capabilities to collect and use urban data are low” was included in 45 ideas and “The urban data collected is not available to different user groups” in 31. “Urban planning is not comprehensive, optimal and sustainable” was also a very popular challenge and got 33 hits. The smallest number of ideas targeted the following two challenges: “The energy production is too carbon-intensive” – 8 ideas and “Lack of fast and economical connections to other key cities” - 6 ideas.

39 ideas have been proposed by the universities, and 32 of these came from TalTech, 3 from Aalto and 4 from other Estonia universities. 10 ideas have been sent to the challenge by Estonian local authorities and two came from other countries, one from Finland, city of Jyväskyla and one from Lithuania, Visaginas. 13 ideas came from private companies, both Estonian and foreign ones and 7 ideas from individuals.

More than 100 TalTech researchers are already involved into 46 project proposals and Aalto researchers into 17. Other universities from Estonia and several other countries are expected to participate in 16 projects.

There have been 31 different Estonian towns and urban areas proposed as piloting partners and 15 of them in more than one proposal. The most popular are of course Tallinn and Tartu that appear respectively in 23 and 22 projects. 30 projects have proposed to involve also cities from other countries, in total 15 different towns, 6 from Finland (Helsinki appears in 12 different idea proposals), 5 from Latvia, 2 from Spain, 1 from the Netherlands and 1 from Germany.

These pilot projects will be 100% financed by the European Regional Development Fund and the Estonian Ministry of Research and Education. The 1st stage evaluation results and feedback will be given to the idea proposers on November 20 and 8-12 ideas will be selected to the 2nd stage. The international evaluation committee will select 2-4 best large-scale pilot project proposals to be launched in January 2021.

Find more information about the evaluation criteria, grant terms and needs of the cities from taltech.ee/en/smartcity.