SPARCS project kicks off in Finland


SPARCS, a smart city initiative that brings together 31 partners in a network of sustainable and zero carbon communities, was officially launched at a meeting hosted in Espoo, Finland on 7-11 October.

The meeting was led by Teknologian Tutkimuskeskus VTT OY (VTT) and city of Espoo that is, along with Leipzig in Germany, both SPARCS lighthouse cities. As such, they will set large demonstrations activities that shall trigger citizen-centric urban transformation and developing a bold City Vision 2050, with a focus on digitalisation, sustainable energy, improved air quality, electro-mobility solutions, and a framework for performance monitoring of the developed solutions.

Five Fellow Cities – Maia (Portugal), Kifissia (Greece), Reykjavik (Iceland), Kladno (Czech Republic) and Lviv (Ukraine) – will closely follow the process and create hands-on feasibility studies to prepare for replication of solutions developed in Espoo and Leipzig.

Setting the scene

The meeting opened with a welcome from Espoo Mayor Jukka Tapio Mäkelä and SPARCS project coordinator Dr Franceso Reda, after which the Grant Agreement and an overview of expectations from the European Commission were presented.

The rest of the kick-off focused on introducing the main objectives, teams and workflows of the ten Work Packages.

Two work packages are dedicated to the Lighthouse cities of Espoo and Leipzig, which will work in close collaboration to implement community engagement actions and promote a citizen-centric approach, enabling inclusive and sustainable urban development.

Fraunhofer and Babel will take care of the replication work package, strongly focusing on lessons learned, replicating demonstrated smart lighthouse city solutions in fellow cities and laying the foundations for European-wide adoption and upscaling.

The project coordinator VTT will focus on the project management and ethics requirements work packages. This will ensure qualitative processes for personal data collection and processing, and project control over the next five years. In addition, VTT will lead networking and cooperation with various stakeholders, to ensure successful knowledge exchange on several vertical and horizontal levels between cities and topical experts and among them, with strong support by GOPA Com. leading the exchanges with SCC1 network and CVUT focusing on research networks exchanges.

Sociedade Portuguesa de Inovacao consultadoria empresarial e fomento da inovacao S.A. will lead the development of an exhaustive urban transformation strategy that assures a common approach across the specific actions, leveraging synergies. The core mechanism of the strategy is to bring together citizens, companies, urban planning departments and decision-making bodies to create meaningful instruments to transform the current urban ecosystem into a carbon-free community.

Suite5 will be responsible for the monitoring and impact assessment work package that aims to develop a methodology and KPIs for comprehensive monitoring of SPARCS actions.

The main outcome of the work package ´Exploitation and Business Ecosystems´ is to support the development of competitive new services, business models and financing instruments for sustainable, energy positive smart districts. Supporting the creation of a business ecosystem will be the responsibility of CiviESCo.

SPARCS communication partner GOPA Com. will take care of the dissemination and communication work package, which focuses on active and effective promotion of the project and its outcomes at local and European level.

Active engagement

A top priority of the project will be to set up inclusive management and planning models and processes together with companies, municipal departments, research organisations and, most importantly, the public. In this context, the meeting provided an ideal opportunity for project stakeholders to network and discuss future workflows and communications targeted at actively engaging all interested parties.

“The kick-off meeting laid a solid foundation for the project going forward, provided clarity on the project’s objectives and the work packages that will help us to achieve these goals. The main result has been a shared vision of the project mechanism, underlining how each stakeholder, cities first, could benefit from project activities. The atmosphere at the meeting was extremely enthusiastic. All stakeholders were fully engaged in ensuring the project’s success and very determined to start working on SPARCs from day 1 of the project. ” Dr Reda said. 

 SPARCs consortium members

  • Teknologian Tutkimuskeskus VTT OY (Coordinator)
  • Adven
  • Camara Municipal da Maia
  • Cenero Energy GMBH
  • Ceske Vysoke Uceni Technicke V Praze
  • Citycon OYJ
  • CiviESCo
  • Espoon Kaupunki
  • Fraunhofer Gesellschaft Zur Forderung der Angewandten Forschung E.V
  • GOPA Com.
  • Kone OYJ
  • LCE Lvivavtodor
  • Lviv City Council
  • Municipality of Kifissia
  • National Ecological Centre of Ukraine
  • NEW - Centre for New Energy Technologies S.A
  • Orkuveita Reykjavikur SF
  • Plug-IT Finland OY
  • Reykjavikurborg
  • Seecon Ingenieure GMBH
  • Siemens Osakeyhtiö
  • Stadt Leipzig
  • Stadtewerke Leipzig GMBH
  • Sociedade Portuguesa de Inovacao consultadoria empresarial e fomento da inovacao S.A
  • Statutarni Mesto Kladno
  • Suite5 Data Intelligence Solutions Limited
  • Suomen Rakennusinsinöörien Litto RIL RY
  • University of Leipzig
  • WSL Wohenen & Service Leipzig GMBH