An initiative by Malta-based Project Aegle Foundation and MCAST, in collaboration with VEFRESH in Latvia, has resulted in the launch of a new platform designed specifically to bring together entrepreneurs, local authorities and procurers who are focused on developing smart, sustainable cities.

The City Innovation Hub not only facilitates better understanding between all stakeholders of the challenges associated with developing, testing and procuring innovative solutions, but also provides practical insights to emerge from workshops organised across the EU.

Camille Bon, Lead Project Manager at Project Aegle Foundation, said, “Although the journey to sustainability cities is complex, the challenges are not insurmountable. Public administrations do, however, need the tools to better understand innovation and how to procure it. Entrepreneurs also need to learn how the process of taking an idea through to implementation can actually work. The City Innovation Hub is now an extra tool for all stakeholders to use in the green transition.”

The platform, supported by EIT Urban Mobility, an initiative of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, is not just a digital resource. In fact, two workshops have already been organised between key stakeholders to foster dialogue and collaboration between local authorities, start-ups, and procurers. A long-term key measure of success will be the ability of City Innovation Hub to reduce the 18-to-22-month time period is currently takes for prototypes to move into testing. This will require the launch of innovation deployment tools such as living labs, pilot territories and testbeds.

This project also creates synergies with a parallel initiative undertaken by ICLEI Europe and PricewaterhouseCoopers, on behalf of the EU Commission, to develop a dialogue on the use of Strategic Public Procurement (Green, Social and Innovation) in all 27 EU Member States. Malta is already a participant in this initiative which will draft a roadmap to develop a more strategically focused Public Procurement system.

“Traditionally, public procurers and contracting authorities have been focussed on using fully developed solutions. This conventional procurement approach often disregards novel and disruptive solutions that hold the potential to revolutionise our approach to the environmental challenges. Novelty products are often disregarded due to the absence of prior examples or benchmarks. This means authorities looking to create sustainable cities are missing out on innovation in areas like mobility and healthcare. We are working to change that and make public buyers lead customers in innovation procurement,” added Bon.

Stakeholders who wish to participate in the City Innovation Hub can send an email to rishub.malta@eiturbanmobility.eu or info.contracts@gov.mt.

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