On May 26, the Open Innovation Club convened a TechMeeting on Smart City. The event kicked off with a panel discussion moderated by Gordon Feller, Founder of the non-profit Meeting of the Minds and consultant at Cisco Systems, and featuring Paul Campbell, VP Innovation at Schneider Electric, Valerie Issarny, Senior Researcher at Inria Silicon Valley, and Lindsey Nehls, VP Business Development at OpTerra Energy Services (company acquired by the French utility Engie in February 2016).

The panel addressed innovation opportunities and new business models around smart cities. There are both bottom-up innovation enabled by particular technologies, but also top-down innovation spearheaded by government or city initiatives, regulations and other incentives.

Most importantly, within a city, innovation should be empowering at any level and trigger something to happen in the real world, such as reaching a sustainability goal, social inclusion, energy efficiency. A recent blog post by Schneider Electric reinforced this commitment to “innovate at every level to benefit customers across industries, grid utilities, data centers, buildings and homes”. 

Cities and large corporations have a strong role to play in creating comprehensive opportunities for innovation. Lindsey Nehls described how OpTerra Energy Services partners with communities to develop and construct sustainability and smart programs. The city provides an enablement platform to create economic, environmental and social benefits. For example, when working with the City of Livermore, the city wanted to promote  a local startup LED company. By providing a space to demonstrate their technology, the city allowed the company to scale.

At the citizen-level, it is important to engage them in monitoring, measuring and creating the city that they want to live in. Inria is working on increasing awareness around exposure to pollution and the impacts it can have on human health. For more details read our previous interview with Valerie Issarny.

Identifying potential synergies and business partnership opportunities between large corporations and startups was also the purpose of this event. 9 startups were invited to pitch their solutions covering a wide number of applications. Here is the list of startups that presented:

Data analytics for urban planning and real-time intelligence

Energy

Environmental Sensors

Innovative products and services