The Intelligent Cities Challenge (ICC) organised a new Geographical Chapter Meeting (GCM) on 11 May 2022 in Slovenia. The meeting gathered Slovenian municipalities and hosted insightful presentations and discussions among the participants.
The meeting was attended by cities member of the ICC Member Association of Municipalities and Towns of Slovenia, which covers 90% of Slovenia’s municipalities, as well as the Municipalities of Idrija, Ljubljana, Celje, Koper, Kranj, Maribor, Murska Sobota, Nova Gorica, Novo mesto, Ptuj, Slovenj Gradec and Velenje.
The event was opened by EU Commission’s DG GROW representative and welcomed Prof. Dr. Andrej Kitanovski, Head of the Laboratory for Refrigeration and District Energy at the University of Ljubljana, and representatives from KPMG and Horwath HTL.
The meeting was centred on encouraging ICC cities to debate and share insights on funding opportunities in the EU, digital tourism and green energy trends. Participating municipalities shared their successful involvement in interregional projects, as well as plans to achieve the Climate Neutral and Smart Cities mission and reach climate neutrality by 2030. Prof. Kitanovski from the University of Ljubljana presented innovative practices in Green and Sustainable heating and cooling, while Horwath HTL and the Faculty of Economics of the University of Ljubljana presented trends and opportunities in Digital Tourism. ICC representatives from KPMG briefed the cities with an overview of EU funding opportunities and applications processes to support their local projects.
- Through presentations from several municipalities, participants better understood EU funding opportunities to support their local projects, what a successful digital tourism strategy looked like and caught up with the latest green energy trends. The municipality Črna na Koroškem shared its successful involvement in three interregional projects with cross-border partners, about establishing a cooperation network European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC). Slovenia’s 212 municipalities are fairly small on average, and participants agreed on the need to cooperate to seek out more EU opportunities for developing local initiatives.
- Participants shared ideas on how to implement digital tourism initiatives, following Slovenia’s recent adoption of a Digital Transformation Strategy of Slovenian Tourism 2022-2026with a focus on four technological pillars: Artificial Intelligence, Hyper Connection, Spatial Computer Science, and Distributed Ledger Technology. Cities also discussed national tenders, in particular those part of the REACT-EU programme and those part of the European Commission approved Slovenian Recovery and Resilience Plan.
- Cities attending noted that most organisations in Slovenia do not have a Chief Information Officer/Chief Technology Officer to systematically take care of the organisation's digital evolution. Cities agreed that Slovenia’s small size and openness to change should be used as an opportunity to foster innovation.
- The Slovenian cities agreed that the green transition will only be successfully addressed with strong technological and digital preparation. Cities noted that technologies for heating and cooling should be upgraded, especially in Slovenia as waste heat is poorly used currently.
- The municipality Velenje from the Savinjsko-Šaleška region expressed its focus on Green Energy, as the region has been selected to undergo a just transition, with closing of a major coal mine and closing or restructuring the largest national electric power provider. The municipality shared its insights ahead of its investments to comply with the Climate Neutral and Smart Cities mission and achieve climate neutrality by 2030.
ICC cities participating in the meeting were encouraged to form cooperative platforms and find appropriate partners when applying for EU funding.
The Slovenian Tourist Board is expected to develop a national information point to pool data from tourist service providers to be used for tourism industry advancement. The municipalities were encouraged to cooperate in the project, as the platform will be vital to support their Digital Tourism ambitions.
The Municipality of Velenje announced they will work with Prof. Kitanovski, who presented on Digital Energy Trends, for a deliberation on possibilities for Velenje in the framework of climate neutral and smart cities initiative within the project EU Mission.
The ICC welcomes the success of this meeting and looks forward to the outcomes of the Geographical Chapter Meetings in Romania and Bulgaria that have followed.