The European Commission’s Digital Cities Challenge got underway last week when the first wave of participating cities came together in Brussels for the inaugural City Academy Seminar. It was the first of five seminars participating cities will attend over the next two years and it set the tone for a productive initiative.
City representatives from Algeciras (Spain), Granada (Spain), Iasi (Romania), L’Aquila (Italy), Patras (Greece), Thessaloniki (Greece), Sofia (Bulgaria) and Ventspils (Latvia) were joined by the First Vice President of the Committee of the Regions Markku Markkula to welcome them to the programme.
The two-day event was marked by a lot of inspiration, sharing vision and knowhow, active learning and getting to know each other between Challenge cities as they prepared to embark on their journeys to transform into truly digital cites.
"The commitment and expectations by the participating cities are high. This hunger for knowledge support would probably justify larger scale actions in the years to come," said Policy Coordinator for Digital Transformation, Dana Eleftheriadou.
The innovative training session on the transformation of particular economic sectors, skills, open data, interactive city apps, technology centres, infrastructure and more, presented the ideal environment for exchanging knowledge as delegations from all the chosen cities were present.
In addition to these academic seminars, participating cities will also get customised expert support and analysis on how to maximise the potential of advanced technologies, in order to develop or review an intelligent growth strategy – whether their focus lies on smart specialisation, sustainable, digital or any other type of growth.
With seven more cities still to join the Challenge, the jury is still deliberating on the next batch of cities but an announcement is expected in March.