The Intelligent Cities Challenge (ICC) is an initiative lead by the European Commission (DG GROW and EISMEA). On 1 March 2023 an Expression of Interest Call opened for cities to apply to its esteemed support programme.
The ICC is one of the largest city support initiatives supporting European cities in their green and digital transitions. ICC delivers cutting-edge knowledge and support services to cities and their local economies to address two major challenges: making the transition to a net-zero economic model, while enabling social inclusion and sustainable development for every EU citizen.
Cities learn how to address these challenges through Local Green Deals: integrated, multi-disciplinary action plans to lead the green and digital transition across sectors from the built environment, urban mobility and renewable energy systems, to agri-food or small retailers.
Cities become members of a vibrant network, gain access to tailor-made advisory services, innovation and sustainability management techniques, cutting-edge technology and training and get inspiration and advice from peers and mentor cities.
Dana Eleftheriadou, Head Cities and Proximity Team, DG GROW at the European Commission, stated:
“Cities are the beating heart of Europe’s economy. The new phase of the Intelligent Cities Challenge offers cities with the prime opportunity to put themselves on the map as a European Intelligent City and to turn their sustainability and technological ambitions into action, especially by launching their own Local Green Deals across city departments and with the local businesses. These will put your cities firmly on the path towards making the European Green Deal and the Green Deal Industrial Plan a reality, while scaling-up Europe's net-zero industry.”
Building on the success of the previous edition of the ICC programme (2020-22) and its predecessor Digital Cities Challenge (2017-19), the ICC has now consolidated its offerings and offers an extensive high-profile network, solid methodology framework and strong support mechanisms. Cities can also follow the programme at different speeds, according to the city’s resources and ambitions.
During phase 1 of ICC, between 2020 and 2022, €1.9 billion was earmarked for ICC cities’ actions and €247 million in public funding from EU as national and regional sources was leveraged which helped facilitate 336 actions planned by the 136 Core cities. Additionally, phase 1 of the ICC successfully set up a meaningful EU-level ecosystem that delivered concrete collaborations such as 682 private actors of the ecosystems engaging with the cities’ solutions and 233 collaborations with other cities within and outside the ICC network.
Specially selected cities in the EU will undertake a two-year journey where they will create an impactful strategy and develop innovative solutions to place them at the forefront of the green and digital twin transition, through Local Green Deals.
The Expression of Interest phase for cities to join the Intelligent Cities Challenge 2.0 network launched on 1 March 2023 and will close on 28 April 2023. No further call for expressions of interest to join the second phase of the ICC is planned until 2025 at this stage.
In addition, there are information sessions to help participants (both ICC cities (2020-2022 edition) and entrant cities) familiarise themselves with the ICC as well as the EOI process, the last scheduled for 28 March 2023. All information regarding the Expression of Interest and application process is available on the Intelligent Cities Challenge website.
ICC Benefits and Achievements
The first edition of the ICC provided cities with a range of benefits and saw a number of advantages brought to their cities thanks to their participation in the programme. This included:
- A vision, strategy and roadmap to implement with city stakeholders
- Activation of private sector in implementing initiatives and solutions
- Access to innovative solutions adopted by other cities
- Increased local interest and awareness in smart city related topics
- Expert knowledge from people with common goals and objectives
- Silos broken and greater cooperation across city departments
- Good methodological and monitoring practices
- International prestige for the city.
Applications close on Friday 28 April 2023. For more information, see the Intelligent Cities Challenge Website and ICC 1.0 Achievements.