Helsinki has recently been ranked in the top 5 smart city governments. No wonder interest of companies to deploy solutions via the SynchroniCity open call in the Finnish capital is high.
Kaisa Sibelius, project manager for SynchroniCity at Forum Virium Helsinki – the city’s innovation unit –, shares her insights from the open call launch in Helsinki and gives advice on how to best prepare as a company for the upcoming open call clinics in August and September.
Helsinki has organised a dedicated open call session for interested companies in June: Who attended to learn more about the open call?
Our pre-launching event took place in in mid-June. We had around 35 attendees who asked actively about conditions and quite much about the role of piloting cities, too. We had some interesting exchanges with them.
There will be more opportunities for companies to ask questions in face-to-face sessions directly in August and September
The SynchroniCity open call has gained a lot of interest in the last weeks: What’s your first impression of the potential applicants?
We have received several inquiries from companies. What’s surprising for us is that quite many of the companies are coming from outside of Finland. The companies are evaluating core piloting cities and looking for piloting opportunities in different cities.
Currently it is a bit challenging for us to find right place and contact persons inside the city because of the summer vacation season. But we’re doing our best to help everyone.
It’s also interesting to see that until now we see more interest from SMEs and companies that are data providers rather than data users. And it surprised us that Fiware has been unfamiliar to most of them.
Is there a question that all potential applicants had in common?
The most common question has been how we can pilot in Helsinki and who we should contact. Because there is still time for deadline questions have been quite general and they have not read the open call documentation in detail yet.
For the clinics, we expect companies to be already quite far with the proposal process so that we can support them on specific questions.
Is there any advice you can share with potential applicants from SMEs and large businesses?
We recommend companies to come to the open call clinics if they have questions or join the general open call webinars. Reaching out to the city of Helsinki doesn’t make much sense: It’s a huge organisation, the biggest employee in Finland, and most likely the employees do not know the SynchroniCity project in detail. For these reasons officers might be a bit confused or reluctant if companies contact them directly.
There are also cities interested in joining SynchroniCity via the open call. What would you recommend them to do to become a vital part?
I think it can be challenging for new cities to join the project due to its scope. For the open call they need to team up with an SME and commit to implement technical arrangements. Cities need to be aware of this and that it requires time and resources to become SynchroniCity compliant.
In general, cities are interested in joining as a test bed when the solution will bring any new information or experiences for them.
There will be open call clinics in Helsinki: how and where can interested SMEs, businesses, and other cities sign up?
We are going to have two clinics in autumn, on 28 August in Smart City Day as a part of MyData conference in Helsinki and 13 September in Forum Virium Helsinki’s office.