Companies are becoming ever more competitive when it comes to trying to attract interest amongst new growth market sectors and when trying to gain investment. Many cities have tried to imitate the model of Silicon Valley, an example of where a location has managed to become an attractive place for top talent to base themselves and grow a collection of companies from.
Silicon Valley is a great example of the perfect tech hub. However, when compared to cities around the world, it is also very new and unique and in many cities’ cases, impossible to emulate. This has been duly noted by governments around the world and they are now looking at alternative means to make their cities the ones that talented people and investors look to first.
A report released by Markets and Markets last year has predicted that the worldwide smart cities market will expand from $411 billion (2014) to $1,135 billion (2019). The latest Smart Cities conference, which took place in Barcelona in November and December, was attended by many stakeholders, all of whom have a distinct interest in how technology can be used in cities to improve them and ensure they are more responsive.
Many cities, such as Barcelona and Singapore have been quick to respond to the idea of smart cities, utilising technologies such as driverless cars, as well as sensors for drains, however, London seems to have fallen behind.
However, last year the London Mayor’s Office backed a Smart City Challenge, which is being run by some of the capital’s leading companies such as VentureSpring and IBM. It is hoped that the competition will spur the capital’s whizz-kids into action.
The competition aims to inspire developers, entrepreneurs and tech startups to use innovative technologies, such as the cloud and the Internet of Things, to respond to annoyances and challenges that face the people living in the capital.
The competition offers a prize fund of £750,000 and the benefit of mentorship from the companies who support the scheme, such as Urban Design London, IBM and Venturespring. To sweeten the deal, IBM has also added use of Bluemix (its open platform) to any finalists.
As well as the obvious benefits to finalists and the eventual winner, supporters of the scheme get the advantage of being able to have first look at up and coming startups, which means they are at a huge advantage when it comes to investment opportunities. There’s also nothing negative about associating themselves with the concept of smart cities, especially when the concept is expected to advance at a great rate.
London’s Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy, Matthew Pencharz is extremely enthusiastic about the competition and about the opportunities it will provide for the capital. He stated: “London is at the very forefront of smart technology and it is vital that we embrace innovation as we work to deliver the new housing, transport and social infrastructure the city needs.” He added that he hoped the competition would inspire tech whizz-kids to come up with innovative solutions for the capital’s challenges and help make London a better city for its people to live in.
Judging of the competition is taking place between 22-28 January 2016, with the eventual winner and runners up hoping to be announced on 28th January. Only then will we be able to see whether any whizzy ideas have been received to help London take another step towards becoming one of the world’s smartest and most modern cities.