January 12, Brussels – During the Connected Smart Cities Conference, the Creative Ring had the opportunity to communicate its vision on creative and smart city ecosystems and engaged in discussions with other members of the ecosystem. The conference led to new insights, and interests from other cities and partners to join forces in exploring how creativity can become a driver to turn cities into experimenting and innovative spaces.
Innovation ecosystems within today’s smart cities are creating big real-time data streams using the Internet of Things (IoT), which are increasingly becoming integral in the fabric of modern cities. These ecosystems operate where the complexities of technology, business, and society meet in their most condensed and voluminous forms, creating impact also on other domains of society. During the Connected Smart Cities Conference, the members of the smart city ecosystem, consisting of city representatives, policy makers, and businesses, had the opportunity to connect and discuss their smart city activities and perspectives. The importance of today’s smart cities and their innovation ecosystems rank high on Europe’s agenda, and we have entered a new phase, as several of the conference’s speakers highlighted. Markku Markkula, President of the European Committee of the Regions, mentioned that ‘cities now have a new role as system innovators’ and that we need more bottom-up movements. Martin Brynskov, chair of Open & Agile Smart Cities and Professor at Aarhus University, showed how ‘cities are catalyst for the digital transformation’. The speakers concluded that the digital transformation cannot be achieved by individual actors; orchestrating regional innovation ecosystems requires new roles and new forms of collaboration.
As the frontrunner and leader of innovation and creative ecosystems, the Creative Ring participated in several panel debates. For the Creative Ring, cities play a key role in connecting and boosting creative ecosystems allowing for creativity to lead to groundbreaking innovations. During the innovation ecosystems panel, Ingrid Willems, co-founder of the Creative Ring, emphasized the importance of creativity: ‘If we want to embrace creativity we need to give the creative minds space to create’. During the panel, also Louise Overgaard from Aarhus Municipality, emphasized the importance of creativity. She asked us to nurture creativity among citizens of all ages. We should not only look at ecosystems in their current form, but also include our kids who are creating the smart cities of the future.
In the morning session on markets and procurement, presenters exchanged best practices on how cities and policy makers can engage into procurement trajectories that are more open and accessible for SMEs and urban innovators. This to ensure that solutions for the public agenda no longer exclusively are offered by large and well-connected corporates. Koen Snoeckx, representing the Creative Ring for Eindhoven, presented the EU Blueprint for cities as launch pads for digital transformation and highlighted the important role the Creative Ring can play to fulfill the blueprint’s ambitions.
During the discussions following the general panels, the Creative Ring had the opportunity to share ideas and insights. Additionally, these discussions provided the perfect opportunity to connect with the cities, policy makers and businesses of creative ecosystems, allowing to explore how creativity can be a driver for the smart transformation of cities by adopting a bottom-up approach. These new insights and contacts will allow the Creative Ring to facilitate and connects spaces for and of creativity in European cities and to further build and tap into a common knowledge base on creative ecosystems. To help achieve this goal, the Creative Ring invites everyone interested in creative urban innovation to join the Creative Ring and help build smart cities as inclusive and creative ecosystems of the future.