Yesterday, some 175 representatives from our ICC cities met online for the second day of the Intelligent Cities Challenge's first City Lab. During day 1, the cities were joined by interested members of the public to learn more about the ICC's policy context. After this introduction, it was time to prepare our ICC cities to get down to work. Day 2 thus offered a busy programme of interactive sessions to help cities get a first idea of what themes and transversal services might be useful to them and which other cities might be interesting partners for collaboration. 

Representatives from the European Commission first outlined how the ICC fits in with the EU's objectives. Dana Eleftheriadou, Head of Advanced Technologies and Digital Transformation at DG GROW, explained how the Intelligent Cities Challenge grew from the Digital Cities Challenge, shifting the name from 'digital' to the broader 'intelligent' to reflect that the goal of the challenge is not just for cities to become digital but to do so in a smart way: 

  • benefiting citizens
  • supporting business and industry
  • boosting the post-COVID recovery
  • enabling cities to become greener and to respond to climate change

Igor KalinicHead of Sector at EASME, pointed out that smart, digital initiatives are not just reserved for large metropoles. The ICC includes many smaller cities, both in more densely populated regions and rural areas. 


Afterwards, Paresa Markianidou from Technopolis Group and Peter Cooper from McKinsey took the city teams through ICC's concrete objectives and methodology. They outlined how the ICC wants to:

  • help cities plan for their digital transformation by creating or refining effective strategies based on real stakeholder needs
  • support cities in building capacity and generating impact, both through smart quick wins and larger more long-term projects
  • build a community that can turn into a self-sustaining network for urban innovation and collaboration

To achieve these goals, the ICC provides a broad range of support services. Our experts will provide tailored advice to individual cities during in-person and online talks. We will also host further cross-city events that allow cities to learn as a group, coach one another and co-create solutions. The ICC will also develop digital learning materials such as online tools and notes on best practices for smart cities. These materials will be made publicly available on the ICC website to support other cities or policymakers at the local and regional levels in leveraging advanced technologies to support green and inclusive recovery and growth. So, make sure to keep an eye on this website for interesting news and insights.

After this broader overview of the ICC, our thematic experts gave a first introduction to the five themes that will be central to the Intelligent Cities Challenge:

  • Green economy and local green deals
  • Citizen participation and digitisation of public administration
  • Upskilling and reskilling
  • Supply chains and logistics
  • Green and digital transition in tourism

These concrete direction and content of these themes are not yet set in stone. Instead, they will be shaped based on cities' input and concrete needs. In addition, to these thematic tracks, the ICC cities will also have access to transversal services:

  • Access to finance
  • Innovative public procurement
  • Open data platform
  • Marketplace

These services will take the shape of cross-theme coaching opportunities available to participant cities as needed. All of the services will also provide post-COVID recovery content.

In the early afternoon, our cities had the opportunity to start building the community that will be crucial to their ICC experience. During lunch, we hosted a one-on-one networking event where cities could look for collaboration partners. Then, cities had a first short meeting with the lead expert that will support them on their digital transformation journey. 

The day-2 sessions then wrapped up early to allow the ICC cities to join a event. is a movement that sees all levels of government in the EU join forces to scale up digital solutions to promote an inclusive, digital Europe. It calls to approach digital transformation in a 'European way', by emphasising technological autonomy and data sovereignty; the ethical and socially responsible access, use, sharing and management of data and interoperable platforms based on open standards. Since its goals align so closely with those of the Intelligent Cities Challenge, we strongly encourage ICC Cities to sign the political declaration and join the movement.