A new innovation partnership scheme has announced by European Commission: for 2013, €365 million in EU funds have been earmarked for the development of ‘smart’ technologies in cities.
The European Innovation Partnership (EIP) will see private business and the EU executive pool research from energy, transport and ICT to develop a limited number of approved projects.
Examples of mooted projects included silent electric city buses that use digital technology, satellite technology aimed at improving traffic flow, a smartphone application for reserving alternative fuel rental vehicles, and fast charging mechanisms for electric vehicles.
Six development banks proposed financing new sustainable transport investments to reduce carbon emissions.
The EU communication on the scheme said improving the efficiency and sustainability of European cities was a vital commitment for 2020 targets since urban areas consume 70% of the EU’s energy, while about 1% of the entire region’s GDP goes towards congestion costs.
Neelie Kroes, Commission vice president responsible for the Digital Agenda commented “Smart cities are green cities” and said introducing new technologies to cities could take some time, due to “strong vested interests, and a resistance to breaking down barriers” in sectors like ICT, transport, energy, healthcare and waste management.
The Commission EIP communication also said that Europe had scarce resources for experimentation, and stressed it would be looking at the projects that were most cost-effective.