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Going, going, gone by SCW editor Melony Rocque

Funding from the EU has been an enabler in smart cities initiatives in the UK, so what now? 

Going, going, gone by SCW editor Melony Rocque

The vote to leave has thrown up many more questions than can be answered. The weather seems to be in on the act reflecting our petulant, stormy instability.


We just don’t know how this is all going to play out.


It appears that anger and dismay with politicians and a deep sense of unfairness was the background from which millions of votes were cast.


From a SCW perspective it’s been an interesting exercise to see how smart cities in the UK voted.


  • Glasgow: 33.4% leave 66.6% remain
  • Bristol: 38.3% leave 61.7% remain
  • Manchester: 39.6% leave 60.4% remain
  • Milton Keynes: 51.4 % leave 48.6% remain
  • Peterborough 60.9% leave 39.1% remain
  • London 28 of 33 boroughs voted to remain. Across these 59.9% voted to stay although in some areas this went up to 70%. Greenwich voted 44.4% leave and 55.6% remain


Last October European funding was given to Smart Cities Scotland that received €15 million from the European Regional Development Fund. Bristol as part of a consortium with San Sebastián and Florence was awarded €25 million to create integrated smart cities solutions, While Manchester received a share of a €24 million green grant from a European commission scheme to reduce carbon emissions and transform the area into a smart city.


In January this year, Greenwich as part of a six-city led consortium was awarded €25 million as part of the European Horizon 20:20 programme, an important smart cities and community initiative.


Is there some correlation between the citizens of these cities seeing the benefits of smart city living that has influenced a stay vote? If only it were that easy! Look at Milton Keynes regarded as a leading smart urban centre, yet the majority want out. Peterborough too, winner of smart city awards, yet over 60 per cent voted to leave?


Funding comes from all different sources not just the EU, maybe becoming more engaged in community issues through smart city initiatives makes citizens even more determined to keep Brussels out. Who knows? And that precisely is the BIG question.


At SCW what we do know is that its hard to get anyone to talk openly about what Brexit means to this funding that in many cases has been an important enabler to wide scale smart city adoption. The question is either too political (!) or it’s too early in the day to say anything.


Innovate UK that funds start-ups and R&D in smart cities has put out a statement that says it’s business as usual but is “working with colleagues in government and beyond to assess next steps.”


In terms of more concrete questions, the response is thus: “We’re not in a position to comment on hypotheticals. As soon as we have more concrete information, we will of course make that available.”


So like I said earlier, at present we just don’t know. But if you do, drop us a line and put us out of our misery…







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