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subbild Europe

The Smart Cities Member States Initiative

This initiative has a clear focus on the EU member states. It elaborates how a Europe wide implementation of the Smart Cities Concept and new cooperative ways for funding can be found and sustained in complementarity and collaboration with Horizon 2020 and via transnational calls for proposals.


  • Kick-off in December 2011
  • 21 countries participating
  • Working under the principle of voluntarity and variable geometry
    • Aiming at creating policy and RDI funding support on the level of the participating countries
    • Striving to support European cities in moving forward
    • Meant as a vehicle for partnership with the EC and in the context of the EIP on Smart Cities and Communities


In view of the on-going discussions about climate change and the worldwide trend of urbanisation, cities and urban regions are moving into the focus of attention of policy, industry and research. The European targets for achieving a low-carbon economy (“2020 targets” and “European Energy Roadmap 2050”) are enormous challenges for our society in the field of energy which can only be tackled through clear strategies. The concept of Smart Cities can provide solutions on both a technological and process level for shaping the future of European Cities in a sustainable way based on two key elements: highly increased energy efficiency and maximum integration of renewable energy sources into existing systems.

Current questions for research and implementation in the context of Smart Cities focus on the following thematic areas:

  • integrated urban energy planning & intelligent energy management on regional & city level
  • merge of ICT and energy as well as transport technologies
  • smart urban energy networks (thermal + electric, complemented by gas grids)
  • energy-efficient interactive buildings
  • renewable energy supply for urban areas and
  • sustainable mobility


The role of the European Member States within the SET-Plan's EII “Smart Cities and Communities” (launched by the European Commission EC in June 2011) as well as within the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities (launched by the EC in July 2012) is still not clear enough due to the complexity of future city projects within the current technological and economic framework conditions. The current strategic position of the EC, as can be seen in the Smart Cities related calls in Horizon 2020, seems to focus mainly on the creation of large lighthouse projects and the roll-out and market entry of technologies, even though additional R&D activities are still needed to create the necessary tools and technologies to enable a proper establishment of such lighthouse projects. On the other hand – and often beyond the energy focused activities of the SET-Plan - a wide range of urban related R&D has been established in Europe, including:

  • a remarkable number of high-quality national funding programmes (as shown in the SC MSI screening activities)
  • the JPI Urban Europe
  • the EERA JP Smart Cities
  • as well as initiatives by DG REGIO based on the structural funds.

Cooperation between these initiatives should, therefore, be intensified.


Taking into account the outcomes of earlier MSI activities (European-wide programme and project screening, expert workshops on smart city R&D topics) the current goals of the Smart Cities MSI are as follows:

Support European cities in moving forward by creating a roadmap with real impact

The roadmap will take into account technical, structural and financial aspects for the realisation of Smart Cities. One aspect which will be dealt with is the coordination of urban related R&D in Europe. There is already a variety of policy initiatives and funding schemes in place regarding the urban theme and a coordinated approach among EC and MS funds could open up new potentials of innovation for cities. Another question that will be tackled within the MSI roadmap is the activation of “emerging cities”, which are still at the beginning of their development towards a Smart City, but therefore provide the biggest potential for improvement. The establishment of a target-oriented knowledge exchange and capacity building amongst cities with different levels of “maturity” („flagship cities“ vs. „emerging cities“) will be crucial for a Europe-wide implementation of the Smart Cities concept. The roadmap will gather all the expertise from the MSI´s national delegates and experts and shall be composed in collaboration with the European Commission. Its objective is to elaborate concrete recommendations for action for the short-, mid- and long-term perspective.

Support the development of integrative methods and tools for the large Smart Cities demonstration projects attempted by the EC

In complementarity to the EC´s Smart cities calls in Horizon 2020 (focusing on pilot and demonstration), the MSI´s immediate goal is to jointly support the development of integrative methods and tools by positioning itself within the European related R&D activities:

First programme alignment and joint call activities: “Creating a common basis for future development”

Based on the discussions in the MSI´s expert’s workshops, the following topics have been identified as crucial research questions:

  • Development of integrated modelling/simulation framework (decision support tools and tools for city-wide simulation of energy flows), as well as
  • Integrated urban energy monitoring concepts
  • Development of business models for municipal services

The research questions shall be tackled by transnational project-consortia. The projects will be funded within appropriate national funding programmes. Therefore, national calls for proposal will be aligned.

Future joint activities “Jointly driving the process towards Smart Cities”

As a next step, the MSI plans to set up standards and finance mechanisms for new pilot and demo projects as well as further develop methods for excellent real time monitoring and analysis. Potential call topics are:

  • Developing flagship cities
  • Engaging newcomer cities
  • Preparing tools and methods for roll-out

Last update: August 2019


smartcities: Europe