Estonian Smart City Cluster (ESCC) is designed to create an innovative environment in cities that will boost companies’ competitive ability by bringing together businesses, citizens, public authorities, R&D institutes, and structures that support innovation.
The cluster focuses on creating, developing (including product development), and exporting innovative solutions in different spheres of urban life and related to the development of smart (er) cities. Setting up the cluster was a joint initiative between the City of Tartu, various R&D institutions (the University of Tartu, Tallinn University of Technology), and companies. The cluster currently has 28 members. The cluster companies (mostly SMEs) include ICT companies and smart city infrastructure providers (energy, transportation, etc.). ESCC has strong ties with the Estonian ICT Cluster, one of Estonia’s oldest and strongest clusters (several ICT companies are members of both clusters).
ESCC takes a holistic approach to smart cities, aiming to develop, deliver, and export smart ICT and mobile-based services and products in the following priority areas – Smart and Green Mobility, Energy and Environment, Tourism, Healthcare and Wellbeing, Governance and public services. In terms of technologies, the focus areas include digital industries and mobility technologies.
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The main focus areas of the cluster are:
- ICT in different actions and processes of the cities
- ICT and other technologies in developing healthcare and social welfare in an efficient and cost-effective way
- Smart & green mobility
- Energy efficiency in buildings and building maintenance
The cluster offers the following services to its members: Support in setting up joint innovation projects and facilitating mutually beneficial collaboration between members in different fields
Gathering and mediating information regarding important developments and initiatives in various smart city domains
Support in identifying funding opportunities for innovative projects – both private funding (VCs, business angels) and public funding programs (Horizon 2020, Horizon Europe, COSME, Interreg, etc.)
Innovation Management support, incl. Support in product/service development via Smart City Lab living lab (end-user testing), setting up pilot projects, etc.
Internationalization support – consultancy services and support in contact building for internationalization activities both inside the EU as well as in third countries
The cluster service provision and internationalization activities are supported by Baltic Innovation Agency (BIA), a specialized consultancy offering business development and innovation support services to the cluster members. BIA is a member of the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) and a founding member of the cluster.
Estonian Smart City Cluster also runs the first functional living lab in Estonia that focuses on collecting end-user feedback on new services and products being developed by companies & R&D institutions. We have a database of more than 300 test users who have signed up for testing on our web page and are committed to being the testers for different service and product prototypes and other relevant solutions tested in our living lab. This has helped many companies validate their solutions with end-users before those solutions are brought to the market.
By 2023, the Estonian Smart City Cluster is internationally known as the leading developer and exporter of smart city solutions based on ICT and other technologies.
Our mission is to support the development of smart city solutions to improve the life quality in the cities and accelerate enterprises’ export. This is achieved via an internationally valued innovation environment, where city authorities and citizens, scientists, enterprises, etc., are co-creating smart solutions based on contemporary technologies that provide both public and private smart city services more effective and easier to use.
Benefits of the membership include mostly: participation in sector-specific seminars, study trips, and many other joint actions; participation in a global network of contacts and new cooperation possibilities; ability to shape the future of the sector.
Altogether, 23 organizations have become members of the cluster, amongst them Tartu city, science parks from Tartu and Tallinn, companies like Position, Reach-U, Microsoft, Mobi Lab, etc.
Cluster membership can be applied by all registered companies in Estonia and abroad, local governments, educational establishments, and other sector-specific NGOs and organizations. The membership fee starts from 3 000 euros per 3 years and will be agreed on as a result of the negotiations with the cluster board.
Partner undertakes to keep the goals and objectives of the project and pay the agreed amount of self-financing.
To become a cluster member, the organization fills in the application form and partner letter, signs both documents digitally, and sends them to: firstname.lastname@example.org. The application will be studied by the cluster board, who will request additional information and arrange a meeting with the applicant if needed.