Build long-lasting partnerships and trust relationships

The ability to create a shared digital strategy relies on the existence of trust relationships between local stakeholders. Long lasting partnerships based upon mutual trust and linked to practical work
are therefore critical. These collaborative activities manifest a kind of collective and informal leadership team who have great interests in advancing the digital level in this territory. This approach actually
creates a new leadership model that innovates, redefines and cultivates a multi-helix eco system.

City governments as facilitators and coordinators of the digital ecosystem

Creating a favourable environment for the emergence of a digital ecosystem is crucial. Local governments have the ability to bring together local resources and to facilitate collaboration between academia, industry and policy makers, fostering digitalisation and creating new business opportunities. The digitalisation processes are not easy to reach, as such processes deeply vary from to city to city. However, there is one aspect that is present in the digital process of each and every city and this relates to the willingness of the public sector to embrace a holistic approach including different actors during the transformation and making sure that digital opportunities offered by the transformation are not missed.

Futureby Lund

Future by Lund is an innovationplatform stimulating an entrepreneurial culture. The platform gathers the municipality of Lund, Ideon, Kraftringen, Lund University, Eon, Region Skåne, Sustainable Business Hub, SP, Akademiska Hus and Siemens in order to solve urban challenges with products and services for smart and sustainable cities. Future by Lund does not only connect these digital stakeholders, the platform also serve to assist them throughout their digital initiatives in an open innovation process. . The efficiency of the platform is notably assured though the focus on three challenges faced by the city: Mobility, smart energy systems, and lighting and illumination.

Leveraging on the territory’s economic assets The local digital strategy also entails the identification of the right industry focus linked to relevant cluster areas of the territory (e.g. ICT, creative, health, wellbeing, life sciences). The smart specialisation strategy of the region can serve as a practical reference for the identification of the right industry focus. The city government acting as a thought leader is therefore responsible for the alignment of the city´s internal digital strategy with the territorially agreed digital strategy.

Using trust to balance formal internal organisational process leadership and external informal territorial leadership

At the same time the individuals in this external ecosystem have a clear and formal internal role of leaders of a special organisation on this territory. One example can be the CEOs from different industries working together with the City manager, the head of the university, the head of the hospital and leaders from the not for profit sector on a e-health-related solution. The task for another group of actors could also be to create a new digital branding platform for a city but at the same time to create and implement a smart city strategy for a part of a city linked to one of Europe’s biggest research plants. This involved all kind of sectors, industries and stakeholders; not just in the city itself creating the demand for new collaboration platforms and access to high tech private industries to test rapid prototyping and test bedding activities. 

Building long-lasting partnerships

Success requires deep, long-lasting collaborations. Cross-sector collaborations need to be supported by all the actors of the digital ecosystem. Institutions hold networks and knowhow that are vital to innovation and that need to be activated to create new collaboration opportunities. Trust, flexibility, commitment and care from all partiesare essential. Entrepreneurship, a shared vision and risk-taking approach are essential, as well as support from professional services firms and other big players in city as a result of long-lasting partnerships and trust.

Tapping into a variety of forms of partnerships for digital transformation

  • Public Private Patnerships
  • Mergers& Acquisitions
  • Subcontracting,
  • Research cooperation,
  • Technical cooperation,
  • Technical assistance,
  • Licencing,
  • Manufacturing agreement,
  • Franchises,
  • Reciprocal production,
  • Joint Ventures.

Overcoming low levels of local engagement for digital transformation

The cost of inaction can be demonstrated so as to make digital more palatable to cities, regions and businesses, since the return on investments is hard to demonstrate in the digital sector. The discussion of leadership needs to be addressed in two dimensions. There is a clear change from a city internal organizational approach to a city external territorialapproach. The second approach helps to lead people in an external multi-stakeholder process with all stakeholders involved on the territorial area. Some pioneering prototypes and examples of arranging informal territorial sector leadership teams already exists and should be further replicated. In order to do so, communication and proximity between local stakeholders is key. Digital technologies offer the chance to reach out to a larger share of the local community and could therefore be used to achieve a higher level of engagement between the local stakeholdersof the digitalecosystem.

Activating citizen engagement

The technological changes that have taken place over the last few decades are bringing citizens closer to a new definition of production in relation to the city. These changes go far beyond traditional citizen participation, redefining the operating model of the city, not just politically, but also in economic, social, cultural, environmental and geographic terms, ultimately creating the “productive citizen, or maker or do-er”. Digital cities and regions are in a mental transition process under the banner “smart citizens”