Innovative transport solutions and start-up accelerators have been flourishing in Europe, but how can we go beyond the limitations of niche markets and pilot projects? How can this demand for innovation be scaled up and help facilitate growth?

Urban Foresight was invited to an expert workshop facilitated by the European Commission to discuss how to best take forward such an approach, creating collaborative innovation platforms and linking networks of accelerators at a European level. And, to consider how to effectively complement existing initiatives at the local and national scale.

The event held in Brussels  brought together a small group of expert representatives from public authorities at local, national and European level, companies, research bodies and think tanks. The interactive discussions posed question about what stakeholders could do to locate collaborative innovation platforms at the European level and how these platforms can be robust and effective in their actions.

Addressing the “What?” element of the workshop, some of the key outcomes highlighted that the platform(s) should create a dynamic of change and encourage a common understanding between stakeholders. And, the status and credibility of such an initiative is also crucial for it to be effective. It was also emphasised that the focus should be on tangible business and market applications and there should be a common understanding of objectives and policy.

Scaling to a market level and reducing risk were outlined as key aims whilst practically the platform should provide more efficient ways to find money and partners. Important too is the need to focus on how to implement such an initiative without simply creating another space for discussion.

In terms of “How?” to build these platform(s) beyond ideas, delegates highlighted the need to create market intelligence and support synergies between industry, research and cities/regions. Creating local momentum for European goals, market confidence and the specific composition and management of platforms were also considered.

The workshop took place as part of the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities, recognising that collaboration can help to overcome barriers associated with procurement, uncertainty and risk. Efforts are underway to establish platforms for open and collaborative innovation for both smart electro-mobility and smart mobility services, involving both public and private partners.