Barcelona Smart City Expo World Congress, November 2022

In November 2022, the HEVi team participated in the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona to acquire new knowledge concerning the smart city concept developments at the international level. Organized in Barcelona since 2011, Smart City Expo World Congress is the international leading event for empowering cities and collectivizing urban innovation across the globe.

The participation in this congress has been also very important for creating new international contacts both for the upcoming funded projects by the HEVi programme, but also for cooperation projects that may be of interest for the cities of Helsinki, Espoo, and Vantaa. We also had the opportunity to deepen our competence in different tools to boost urban innovation.

Lessons learnt

A lesson learnt is that the interpretation of “smart city concept” is strongly linked to the geographical context in which it is developed and framed; in one of the presentations it was clearly acknowledged that there is no one-size-fits-all model of smart city. Another important aspect is that a smart city first and foremost should be centered around its citizens; for instance in one workshop it was discussed how public innovation labs place citizens at the center of their work. On the other hand, technology and innovation must be considered tools rather than a finality.

Barcelona Metropolitan Area

During the three-days congress, we attended numerous lectures and visited different country stands to get familiar with how smart cities dynamics are implemented and functioning for instance in Spain, Japan, Korea, and Italy.  Especially insightful was the meeting with colleagues from the Barcelona Agency of Economic Development (funded by the 36 municipalities of the Barcelona Metropolitan Area). Our colleagues presented how the agency works and their ongoing, main innovation projects in the metropolitan area. Working areas of the agency include internationalization and investment promotion, the support of businesses and industrial parks, as well as boosting innovation and technology. The goal of the meeting was to strengthen cooperation in the near future for potential international projects. 

One particularly relevant infrastructure is the Barcelona Innovation Lab, which connects local companies with the City of Barcelona and local authorities alike to test new products and services in real life settings for up to six months. In the program, startups and other entities are encouraged to test and gather valuable market feedback. In return, the program gives the local government the opportunity to explore new ways of using technology and services to make the government more efficient, transparent, sustainable, and inclusive.

Are you looking for international contacts?

If you would like to have more information about the congress, and, most importantly, if you are looking for international contacts, please do not hesitate to contact the HEVI team!


Fulvio Rizzo,

HEVi team