Newcastle takes centre stage at Smart City Expo in Barcelona

A diverse contingent of public and private sector partners have come together in Barcelona to cement Newcastle’s reputation at the world’s largest conference for smart cities.  


The Smart City Expo World Congress took place from November 14 to 17 and saw cities from across the globe sharing the challenges their businesses, citizens and communities face and how innovation and technology can help solve them.  


The conference was attended by more than 20,000 people from 134 countries, with cities ranging from Kyoto, Japan and Seoul, South Korea to Madinah, Saudi Arabia and Prague, Czech Republic all represented on the exhibition floor.   


Newcastle, which was the only English city exhibiting at the conference, had a strong presence across the main event programme and took full advantage of the opportunity to learn from and engage with international stakeholders who have truly transformed their cities for the better.  


UK National Innovation Centre for Ageing (NICA) Director Nic Palmarini took part in a panel discussion about designing technology to tackle inequality alongside Liverpool City Council Mayor Joanne Anderson and representatives from Tel Aviv, Israel and Bogota, Colombia. 


Some of the main themes at Smart City Expo this year included smart mobility innovation and solutions that can model the impact of urban planning decisions before they are made as well as technology that can improve citizen engagement across a wide range of use cases from the circular economy to cyber resilience.  


The Newcastle delegation included representatives from Newcastle City Council and NICA as well as fast-growing innovation consultancy Urban Foresight and Monstarlab, a Japanese digital consultancy and product developer that invested in Newcastle in 2021.  


Sam Cassidy, Senior Inward Investment Manager at Invest Newcastle, said: “Smart City Expo World Congress offered a great platform for engaging with global leaders in urban innovation.  


“With over 20,000 people in attendance and 134 countries represented, it was important to showcase the world-class assets in Newcastle and promote the city as a leading destination to do business. Attending the event with a delegation of public, private and academic representatives further underlined the strength of partnerships in the city and the supportive ecosystem available for potential inward investors.”  


Jenny Nelson, Head of ICT and Digital at Newcastle City Council, said: “The Smart Cities Expo World Congress is the perfect place to see and hear how other cities are using technology and data to improve outcomes which we can learn from in Newcastle.   


“It’s also great to be able to talk to others about the exciting things happening in our city, sparking interest and then hopefully driving future investment”.      


Nic Palmarini, Director of UK National Innovation Centre for Ageing, said: “For us, it is crucial to bring NICA into the centre of a debate and contexts much broader than those of ageing.  


“An event such as the Smart City Expo in Barcelona is fundamental to being able to focus the exchange of experiences – in terms of technologies, partnerships, and strategic agreements – through which to create a virtuous circle that respects both our propensity for the future and the values we want with us in that future.” 


James Hall, UK Managing Director at Monstarlab, said: “Monstarlab has worked on a range of smart places solutions globally, from Rockefeller Centre to Garden By the Bay and the CN Tower. As we look to scale this work into delivering smart cities, we need to stay at the cutting edge of developments, fostering new partnerships that allow us to offer holistic services to clients.  


“Smart Cities Expo World Congress is THE place to do that, and it was fantastic for us to be part of the Newcastle delegation. We are extremely lucky to be part of a range of forward-thinking clusters and cities across the world, many of whom were in attendance, and we’re very proud to add Newcastle to that list.” 


David Beeton, Founder and CEO of Urban Foresight, said: “We work around the world developing strategies and projects for smart and sustainable places. The Smart City Expo was a great opportunity to connect with clients, new partners, and to share our expertise in place-based innovation.” 


Following the success of the conference, which was supported by the North of Tyne Combined Authority’s Digital Ecosystem programme, Invest Newcastle will continue to facilitate dialogue between the public and private sector to ensure that the region remains at the forefront of smart city innovation and technology.  


If you are interested in finding out more about Newcastle’s smart credentials or are considering investing in the city, please get in touch with sam.cassidy@ngi.org.uk 

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