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Secure investments in digital infrastructures


High upfront investments are not always required to finance digital infrastructures. Innovative financial and business models are increasingly emerging to fund local technological infrastructures.²

Creating innovative financial and business models to invest in the needed infrastructures

High upfront investments are not always required to finance digital infrastructures. Innovative financial and business models are increasingly emerging to fund local technological infrastructures. The variety of existing financial schemes notably include joint ventures to Public Private Partnerships, Crowdfunding, Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) and green or energy revolving funds. Public authorities can take leadership to create incentives to encourage private investments in infrastructures for technology-based innovation in cities.

The US “Cities Innovation Technology Investment Initiative (CITII)”

In the US, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology has recently recommended to create an interagency initiative, the Cities Innovation Technology Investment Initiative (CITII). It mainly aims at coordinating and learning from the work of the many agencies that focus on the development of cities all over the country. Ultimately, CITII will “encourage, coordinate, and support efforts to pioneer new models for technology-enhanced cities” based on a set of measurable goals.


Leveraging on the expertise of local energy saving companies

An increasing number of European technology-based firms are developing energy services in a non-profit or commercial purpose. These companies can offer a wide range of services such as energy audit schemes, energy saving project design and green energy supply. Local authorities should create collaborative partnerships with these local companies to discover new opportunities to tackle their local environmental challenges in a costeffective and efficient way.

Small-scale infrastructure thinking

As the World Economic Forum highlights in its report on the Top Ten Urban Innovations, cities will undergo their digital transformation thanks to largeinfrastructure projects. Yet, small-scale infrastructure projects can also help to set the path. Small investments to encourage businesses to modernize their digital systems or to support the development of digital trainings for job seekers for example are likely to have a large payout.

Unlocking investments for smart mobilitys

The benefits of local investments in digital infrastructures are evident when it comes to environmental sustainability issues. Digital technologies have the capacity to transform traditional public transportation system and to create more efficient and intelligent networks which can ultimately enhance the movement of vehicles, people, and goods. For instance, through the ELENA facility, the European Commission and the EIB have promoted an innovative bus fleet renewal programme in Barcelona. The three-year project includes the transformation of about 200 existing buses into hybrid buses for an estimated energy savings amount of 60 GWh.

Amsterdam’s Sharing tower

The Sharing Tower accommodates businesses, but not only. It aims at creating an environment where people share their ideas and visions. In the Sharing Tower, design enables the sharing economy to become reality. Space is organized in such a way that every tenant and visitor have increased possibilities for sharing and cooperating.

Institutional infrastructures for digital transformation

Institutional infrastructures have also an important role in the digital transformation of traditional industries at city-level. Activities related to governance, planning and city management are re-shaped by ICT, which provides a new dimension making it citizen-centric, efficient, accountable and transparent. Crucial aspects of the digital transformation are city infrastructure, especially high-speed fibre access.

Cross-border collaboration to unleash investments in digital infrastructures

Cross-border cooperation can bring positive results, and this is true both for the public and the private sector. Thinking of the scalability of solutions implemented elsewhere and how they can be replicated is something cities and start-ups should consider, and this has been true in the case of Tallinn, particularly in its digital transformation path.

Overcoming the lack of investor confidence

Private investments are welcome and essential for the development of digital cities and regions but investors need to be ensured that they will get returns for their investment. The lack of private investments in physical infrastructures is often preventing European cities and regions from developing the key technological infrastructures required for the digital transformation of the territory.

Cross-border collaboration between Tallinn and Helsinki

Tallinn is cooperating closely with the city of Helsinki and through this cooperation it has been able to achieve many successes, for example in the field of energy, transport and smart cities integrated solutions. This is demonstrated by the fact that travelling between the two regions is increasingly easy with a constant decrease in transport costs. Studies have demonstrated that the Uusimaa (Helsinki) and Harju (Tallinn) regions already form a largely integrated economic area, with strong synergies in various sectors, including ICT.

New York Innovation venture fund

NYU’s seed‐stage venture capital fund invests exclusively in startups from current NYU students, faculty, and
researchers.