Spanish cities joining the Intelligent Cities Challenge

30 Oct 2023

European Commission’s initiative Intelligent Cities Challenge (ICC) has already selected the 64 cities that will partake in this two-year program, which will be focused on green and digital transition as well as on the implementation of cutting-edge technologies. Among these cities, 12 of them are Spanish.

What is the Intelligent Cities Challenge?

The Intelligent Cities Challenge is an initiative driven by the European Commission consisting on a 2-year program. This edition will start in 2023 and will finish mid 2025.

The purpose of this program is to offer the selected cities support in exploiting cutting-edge technologies so they can become more competitive at an economic scale while improving social resilience and the quality of life for citizens through Local Green Deals.

In order to reach these goals, cities will receive high-quality tailored guidance and support from international experts. Each participating city will be also provided with guidance networks and proper tools for a twin transition – green and digital.

Participating cities confirmed for the Intelligent Cities Challenge

A total number of 64 municipalities has been confirmed to participate in the Intelligent Cities Challenge. They represent 17 countries of the European Union (EU):

  • Germany
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Spain
  • Finland
  • France
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Luxembourg
  • The Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Sweden
More specifically, 12 Spanish cities have been selected to be involved in this innovative program to become more eco-friendly, sustainable and technologically advanced.

Below, you will find the Spanish towns participating in the Intelligent Cities Challenge:

  • Alcoi
  • Almería
  • Benidorm
  • Castelldefels
  • Castellón de la Plana
  • Collado Villalba
  • Granada
  • Ibiza
  • Las Rozas
  • Molina de Segura
  • Sant Cugat del Vallès
  • Zaragoza

The application period to participate as a city in the new edition of the Intelligent Cities Challenge is already closed. However, any city interested in this initiative is encouraged to contact the support services for Intelligent Cities so as to explore other kinds of collaboration that may be still available.

Mentor cities of the Intelligent Cities Challenge

All the participating cities of the ICC 2023-25 have been already confirmed, but mentor cities haven’t. This term refers to the cities working along with the selected towns to take part in this initiative.

An interesting aspect of these cities is that they do not necessarily have to be European, so any town in the world can apply to become a mentor city.

Joint work between apprentice cities and mentor cities is performed via different types of meetings, in the framework of an organic and voluntary relationship. In fact, cities participating in the Intelligent Cities Challenge can state which mentor they would like to work with.

Program and incentives of the Intelligent Cities Challenge

The program of the innovative Intelligent Cities Challenge initiative is based on 3 pillars, each taking place during different periods:

  1. Strategy refresh (from July 2023 to the end of the year).
  2. Program implementation (from the end of 2023 to February 2025).
  3. Review and way forward (from February to May 2025).

On October 11th, the coordination team of the ICC published a performance report of the ICC cities: “EU Cities Championing The Green And Digital Transition”. The aim of this document is to present the incentives the participating cities can benefit from.

Such report offers an overview of this program: the methodology used, achievements, challenges and opportunities for each and every European participating city in the 2020-22 edition – both during its development and beyond their implementation and review period.

For that edition, 1 900 million euros were allocated to all the initiatives proposed by the participating cities and another 247 million euros of public funding coming from European, national and regional sources.

Thanks to this economic support, 42 cities could go a long way in starting their own Local Green Deals. Further to this, 35 cities signed the “Pact for Skills” and were involved in different initiatives based on their professional skills.

Ever since the first implementation phase, the Intelligent Cities Challenge has allowed to create a significant ecosystem across the EU. Below you will find the objectives achieved during the 2020-22 edition:

  • 682 private actors engaged in the implementation of solutions for these cities.
  • 233 collaborations with other cities within and outside the ICC network.
  • 562 local and international events were held to showcase engagement in the initiative. 
  • 91% of the participating cities actively reached out to citizens on the actions that had been carried out.
  • 56% of the implemented solutions involved private parties – SMEs, large companies and start-ups.
  • 55% of the solutions benefited from direct contributions from other cities.

Cutting-edge technologies applied to these solutions allowed for a green and digital transition – which is expected to happen again in this new edition.

Apart from the 42 towns that are now on their way to present their Local Green Deals, 23 participating cities have decided to join the 100 Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities Mission, thanks to the previous edition. This is an EU proposal to encourage the development of intelligent cities able to meet the climate neutrality goals by 2050. 


Participating experts in the Intelligent Cities Challenge

Experts play a key role in developing different solutions and strategies during the Intelligent Cities Challenge.

For this edition, 42 main experts have been already selected – 25 of them had taken part in the previous edition and 17 are new.

These experts represent more than 18 countries of the UE and have a thorough knowledge on several fields.

Main experts play a support and guidance role for participating cities. They engage in the success of the city and will actively help them have the greatest impact with every action undertaken.

There are another three expert profiles involved in this initiative:

  • Local Green Deal (LGD) experts: they provide information about the Local Green Deals; guide the participating cities to meet the requirements; and train other experts to help such cities develop this kind of associations.
  • Sector experts: they have a very deep knowledge on the implementation of the sectors covered by the Intelligent Cities Challenge (building and built environment; mobility and transport; tourism and culture; energy and renewable energies; and creative industries).
  • Thematic experts: they bring in-depth knowledge on the 4 main themes of the Intelligent Cities Challenge: funding, procurement, reskilling, social economy.

Application period for professional experts for the 2023-25 Intelligent Cities Challenge is still open – you will find more info on the initiative’s website.