The Project 'Smart Sity's Trip: A Journey through Innovation in Europe', organized by Sorbonne students, is part of the master's degree program and aims to study the main challenges in the innovation and modernization of European cities. To cover a coherent spectrum of study, this project was divided in two parts: the first one, with a visit to two Northern European Cities – Copenhagen (Denmark) and Malmö (Sweden) –, and the second, to Southern Europe – Lisbon, Cascais and Porto (Portugal).
"Urban innovation processes are doomed to fail if technology is not used to respond to citizen needs." The notice was made by Baptiste Dugué, one of the 21 students of the Innovation & Management Technologies’ Master at Pantheon-Sorbonne University (Paris 1), who, invited by Gfi, visited Portugal for an immersion experience on Smart Cities, from May 8 to 12.
In Portugal, the group analyzed different success cases in innovation and entrepreneurship, namely:
- BETA-I, Pedro Rocha Vieira (Co-founder & CEO)
- Poject Sharing Cities of Lisbon City Council, Nuno Xavier (Project Manager)
- NOVA Information Management School, Miguel Castro Neto (Professor)
- Digital Transformation and Innovation, Cascais City Council, Miguel Luz (Vice-President)
- Smart City Innovation Lab of CATÓLICA-LISBON School of Business & Economics, Rene Bohnsack (Head of Smart City Innovation Lab)
- INTA 40 - Urban Development of Instituto Superior Técnico, Dr. Fernando Nunes Silva (Full Professor)
- VFABLAB-IUL do ISCTE - Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, Vasco Moreira Rato (Director of Sustainability and Deputy Director School of Technology and Architecture)
- CEiiA - Centre of Engineering and Product Development, Vladimiro Feliz (Head of Smart Cities & CIO)
- Example of Porto City Council – Porto Digital, Paulo Calçada (CEO and Executive Director)
- Portuguese Electric Vehicle Association (APVE), Robert Stussi (Vice-Presidente)
For Baptiste Dugué, who aspires to become a leader in innovative Projects, supporting companies in digital transformation, “smart cities are not about technology, but about people. Technology must be at citizens’ service, bearing in mind what they really want and need".
He adds: "It is only after a good understanding of what citizens really need that we can propose a specific technology or innovation. If the process is not done like this, it will certainly fail", he argues.
The immersion week also included a workshop about innovation at Gfi’s Lisbon Service Center, with the Chief Technology Officer of Gfi Group, Jean-François Gaudy.
Jean François Gaudy, Chief Innovation Officer of Gfi Group
"This experience has helped us to understand better the differences between some European cities and stressed the importance of a joint approach between the academic world, local authorities and technology companies.
For us, Gfi, this was a very enriching experience. It has demonstrated that Gfi has the capacity to bring closer diverse stakeholders, and that Portugal is undoubtedly one of the countries most oriented to innovation and entrepreneurship. On the other hand, bringing young people, with different backgrounds, together was an inspiration."
Understanding the innovation process in capitals of Northern and Southern Europe
By allying with this Sorbonne University’s project, Gfi reinforces Portugal's position as a European center for innovation and entrepreneurship, in line with the company's expansion strategy in Portugal.
At the same time, the French company wants to ensure a correct link between educational institutions and the labor market, promoting initiatives that could combine knowledge of the academic world, companies and civil society.
The choice of these cities is justified by the desire for an analysis of the structures and processes put in place in the capitals of Europe of the north and south, to represent the transformations in their varied character from the technological point of view, but also cultural, social and human.
The results of this research will be published in an illustrated guide dedicated to urban innovation in Europe. The edition will address the changes that have been occurring for 10 years in smart city networks. Focus will be on good practices, success stories and projects in progress, as well as their constraints. This guide will be available in digital and paper formats.