Four RUGGEDISED cities chosen for the European Mission on Climate Neutral and Smart Cities

4 May 2022

All three Lighthouses of RUGGEDISED, Rotterdam, Umeå and Glasgow, plus the Fellow City of Parma, have been chosen as part of the EU’s Mission for 100 climate-neutral and smart cities by 2030, the so-called Cities Mission. Out of a total of 377 applicants, 112 cities (100 inside the European Union and 12 from countries associated with Horizon Europe) were chosen to act as frontrunners.

When announcing the cities, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the Commission, said:

“The green transition is making its way all over Europe right now. But there's always a need for trailblazers, who set themselves even higher goals. These cities are showing us the way to a healthier future. We will support them on this! Let's begin the work today.”

Reflecting on the fact that all the RUGGEDISED Lighthouse Cities, plus the Fellow City of Parma, were chosen, RUGGEDISED Coordinator Albert Engels, from the City of Rotterdam, said:

“It’s a great recognition of the work we have done in the RUGGEDISED project. The ‘Cities Mission’ will require that all of us, not just municipalities but also citizens, academia and private business, urgently develop new methods of collaborating towards a net zero world. With projects such as RUGGEDISED we have a strong foundation for successfully doing that, and we look forward to using the methods and experiences from RUGGEDISED towards fulfilling this new ambitious commitment.”

There will be many opportunities in the coming months to learn from the Horizon 2020 funded RUGGEDISED project. On 11-13 May, RUGGEDISED will join the World Congress of the city network ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, and a final conference is under preparation in Rotterdam for 6-8 September, 2022.

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Find the Factsheet 'EU Cities Mission: Meet the cities' here.

New business case study ‘Digital City Rotterdam’ is free to download

18 November 2021

Technology is only a small part of creating a successful digital platform for a city – in fact, social dimensions are strategically important too. That was one of the insights found in a newly published business case study based on the real experiences of a city becoming ‘smart’. The case study, free to download, is the result of the combined expertise of two specialist centres at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University; its creators are the Case Development Centre (CDC) and the Erasmus Centre for Data Analytics (ECDA) The business case, Digital City Rotterdam: Open Urban Platform describes the opportunities and challenges encountered when the City of Rotterdam created a digital platform for sharing, using, and leveraging data. ECDA conducted some of the research for Rotterdam as part of RUGGEDISED project.

Rotterdam’s digital transformation 

The case devotes particular attention to the issues of platform purpose, platform governance, financing, trust, and citizen engagement, and is written by three RSM academics; Dr Samaneh BagheriProfessor Tobias Brandt, and Dr Marcel van Oosterhout who is associate executive director of ECDA, one of RSM’s specialist research centres. 

Rotterdam’s digital transformation, underpinned by the EU-funded RUGGEDISED project, was based on data, some of which was researched by ECDA; analysing the network of electric buses. ECDA simulated the transformation to electric buses and explored the impact of electric buses and smart charging on service levels, costs and CO2 footprint, gathered data on the optimisation of charging the buses so it could link demand for electricity of electric buses to supply of renewable energy; studied the governance and design of urban data platforms and the role of municipalities; and developed new business models for companies engaging with urban data platforms.

Free to download and use

The case is freely available to the general public via The Case Centre. ECDA and CDC decided to make the case freely accessible so that information captured in the case can be used by educators, students, and professionals working on smart and sustainable cities around the world. It’s aimed at all students, businesses, and communities interested in knowing how a digital transformation happens.  

Education based on research

Dr Van Oosterhoutsays:

“The development of this case is an important step to disseminate insights from the EU-funded project Ruggedised to a wider audience of students and practitioners worldwide, to stimulate critical thinking in how we design the digital equivalent of our cities with the objective to create social value, make cities more sustainable, while keeping prosperity and stimulating innovation.” 

Dr Bagheri says:

“The case can be used to facilitate the discussion on how cities can improve or accelerate digitalisation. It emphasises how different technologies can be utilised and how stakeholders, such as the municipality, citizens and project developers, can work together to develop a successful digitalised city.

“In order for students to understand the importance of these aspects, teachers can have them play different stakeholders involved in the development of a smart city. Through role-plays, students can learn how to build trust and collaboratively develop ideas for the improvement of their city.”

A digital city is not just about technology 

The case devotes particular attention to the issues of platform purpose, platform governance, financing, trust, and citizen engagement – all of which influence the adoption of an open urban platform by city management and the possibilities for innovation in the City of Rotterdam. The case demonstrates that technology is only a small part of creating a successful digital platform in a city context, but especially other more social dimensions are strategically important, for example, a clear purpose on becoming a digitalised city, designing a good governance, and collaboration and trust building among stakeholders. 

There are more free RSM cases in the CDC catalogue 


RSM Case Development Centre

Business students and seasoned business experts can learn from the experiences of other real-life organisations and decision-makers. The Case Development Centre at RSM supports case-based management education by turning exceptional business and management experiences into powerful learning tools. The Centre connects world-class research, education, and business by developing high-quality case studies.

Erasmus Centre for Data Analytics 

The purpose of the Erasmus Centre for Data Analytics (ECDA) is to facilitate the Erasmus University Rotterdam and its public and private partner organisations in preparing society for a data-driven future, human-centred, towards a sustainable world.  It supports organisations by turning data into business and societal value via over 25 areas of expertise, including inclusive smart cities and communities, accountability and fairness of AI and energy and sustainability.

More informationRotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top-ranked business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers. Study information and activities for future students, executives and alumni are also organised from the RSM office in Chengdu, China.

The news story was produced by RSM. For more information please contact Erika Harriford-McLaren, communications manager for RSM by email at

You can also learn more about Urban Data through RUGGEDISED here:  

Photo by Markus Winkler, Unpslah

RUGGEDISED partnership extended for another year

3 November 2021

The RUGGEDISED partners have decided to officially extend the project until October 31st, 2022, following dialogue with the European Commission. The extension will allow the Lighthouse Cities to fully monitor the implemented solutions, following some delays associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Originally, RUGGEDISED was scheduled to wrap-up activities by the end of this month, but the decision to continue work has been underway for a while, explains coordinator Albert Engels from the City of Rotterdam:

“It became clear to us when COVID struck that some form of extension would be needed. To fully capitalise on the implementation of innovative solutions in all our cities, a thorough monitoring of their successes - and challenges - is needed. The continuation of our solid partnership is key to making this happen,” he says. 

Parma wins European prize for Climate Neutrality

26 October 2021

RUGGEDISED’s Fellow City Parma has won the first ever “Climate-Neutral” award from the European Mobility Initiative CIVITAS. The award was presented by Matthew Baldwin, Manager of the EU’s mission to reach 100 Climate Neutral Cities by 2030. Parma was selected as the winner because of its Low Emission Zone.

Reflecting on the win, Tiziana Benassi, Deputy Mayor for Environmental Sustainability from the City of Parma expressed:

“Our ambition, shared amongst the public and private organisations that are partners of the Parma Carbon Neutrality Alliance, is to reach carbon neutrality by 2030: a very ambitious yet achievable goal if we all believe change is possible and we work every day to fight climate change. We want to promote a new mobility culture, centred on our citizens’ needs, while being more sustainable and environmentally-friendly. Limiting access for the most polluting cars with the introduction of a Low Emission Zone across the entire urban area is our first step in the systemic transformation to make Parma a green and carbon-neutral city. The Green area, whose heart is the historical city centre (Blue area), will contribute to a higher quality of life for everyone visiting, working and living in Parma.”

The award ceremony took place in Aachen (Germany) during the CIVITAS Forum, one of the leading conferences dedicated to mobility and sustainable development at the European level . Among the strong points of Parma's candidacy was the ‘Carbon Neutrality Parma’ Territorial Alliance between the Emilia Romagna Region, the Province of Parma, the Municipality of Parma, Parma University and other local stakeholders.

Japanese and European Smart Cities launch international cooperation initiative

25 October 2021

An international cooperation initiative between Japanese and European Smart cities, proposed and designed by the research institute ISINNOVA in the context of the EU-funded project RUGGEDISED, was launched at a virtual city to city meeting on October 11. The cooperation aims to foster a facilitated knowledge-sharing exchange between international smart city programmes.

Mario Gualdi, President of ISINNOVA, said:

— "The RUGGEDISED project, together with our Japanese partners, is committed to innovating and exchanging knowledge with kindred smart city programmes. After starting this dialogue in 2019, we have affirmed that cities face many of the same challenges – launching this cooperation partnership is a great opportunity for us to address these challenges and to share successes and opportunities. This will support all parties in making their cities smarter and increasing the quality of life of citizens."

Kenji Matsuno, Deputy Director of the Office for Promoting Regional Revitalization stated:

— "It is great to see the official launch of this cooperation programme. Japan and the EU share common values based on the rule of law, and they both work towards sustainable, inclusive development. Cities are at the forefront of such efforts and this cooperation will provide a great opportunity to enhance Japan-EU cooperation at the local level."

During the official launch meeting, the project action plan and potential milestones were discussed; the cooperation seeks to build a collaborative exchange of best practices, expertise and information between the six RUGGEDISED cities - lighthouses: Rotterdam, Umea and Glasgow, and fellow cities: Gdansk, Parma and Brno - and key smart city players and cities in Japan.

RUGGEDISED, a smart city project dedicated to combining ICT, e-mobility, and energy solutions to design smart, resilient cities, is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

Albert Engels, Coordinator of RUGGEDISED and Senior Process Manager for the City of Rotterdam, noted:

— “The cities of the European Smart Cities and Communities Cluster are working hard on ‘getting better connected’ and it’s important for us to also include partners outside of Europe. We share a commitment to smart cities being developed for and with citizens and I hope we will be inspired by the work done in Japan and that they will benefit from the experiences made in Europe.”

From the Japanese Government, the cooperation is supported by the Cabinet Office of Japan, which is responsible for the overall coordination of Japan’s smart city programme.

The Japanese cities participating in the cooperation at this stage are the City of Hamamatsu, the City of Kamakura and the City of Tamana.

While they are at different stages of smart city development, the Japanese partner cities are expecting to share their experiences and work together with European cities for more sustainable, inclusive smart city development.

The expectation is for both Japanese and European cities to establish an environment that cultivates mutual understanding and inspiration between cities committed to unlocking sustainable growth and a higher quality of life for their citizens through the deployment of smart city technology.

Umeå University improves our knowledge on energy management in buildings

11 September 2021

Umeå University has been a committed RUGGEDISED partner since the beginning of the smart cities project and continues to expand on the scientific basis for energy management in buildings. The latest part of this work is the PhD dissertation entitled ‘A multi-method assessment to support energy efficiency decisions in existing residential and academic buildings.’

The dissertation was written by Shoaib Azizi, Department of Applied Physics and Electronics at Umeå University.

Lisa Redin, the university’s coordinator for RUGGEDISED, explains: 

"As a university, we have considered it important that our researchers' cutting-edge expertise is used and contributes to development. Thomas Olofsson, Gireesh Nair and Shoaib Azizi from the energy efficiency group at the Department of Applied Physics and Electronics have been involved in the entire project and have developed and refined our measurement methods as well as analysed all the data that has been collected in our sub-project Demand Side Management. Five master's theses have also been generated in the project," she says

With Demand Side Management — or presence-controlled energy and property use — it is possible to control ventilation, heating, cooling and lighting to actual needs with the added benefit of being able to reduce the university's energy use and climate impact. Sensors can measure the presence, movement patterns and various indoor environment parameters and generate data allowing better and more precise energy models. With the help of the new solutions, security and service can also be strengthened in some places.

Shoaib Azizi says about his dissertation: 

"A rapid reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from buildings and our cities is crucial in the energy transition required to reduce the pace of climate change and limit global temperature increase," he says and continues:

"Energy efficiency is decided and managed in different ways for different types of buildings, in different contexts, which in turn entails different challenges and opportunities. Consequently, it is necessary to understand the importance of choosing appropriate strategies and designing effective support measures to achieve increased energy efficiency."

Brno (CZ) offers investment possibilities in Smart City district

30 August 2021

The City of Brno is revitalising its Špitálka District by transforming the unused western part of the oldest heating plant in Brno city into a modern, smart and sustainable neighbourhood. The project design seeks to breathe new life into the area, offering benefits to residents and creative entrepreneurs alike. With a master plan in hand, Brno is busy brainstorming different scenarios for a critical step in the smart district’s journey to fruition: financing.

The master plan

“The master plan focuses on making Špitálka liveable and workable, meaning the district should include everything to satisfy its future citizens and office workers. We will have event sites, offices and recreational houses all done in a sustainable and smart manner,” explains Lukas Gruza, Brno’s RUGGEDISED city manager. 

According to the plan, the interior of the plant’s cooling tower has been reimagined as a space for companies to present their businesses and for locals to hold activities. Meanwhile, the roof will serve as a scenic viewpoint. 

As chronicled on the Špitálka website, all of this work is anchored in the Municipality's #Brno2050 Strategy and supported by the Horizon 2020 project RUGGEDISED.

Opportunity to invest

The City of Brno is taking decisive steps toward accelerating the smart city model through sustainable, innovative solutions that improve the local environment and citizens’ quality of life.

 And now it’s actively looking for investors who wish to do the same.

“We are looking not only for a developer, but for a strategic long-term partner, someone who would stay in the area for at least 30-50 years and, together with the city, will be responsible for the management and viability of the district,” says Yuliya Ostrenko, Locality Manager of the Špitálka District.    

The project plans to conduct a verification study that will bring together expert recommendations regarding the master plan proposal, in addition to determining the parameters for construction and investment. This investment opportunity could become quite a competitive one, as the district is located at the centre of this dynamic city.

Galvanising action

The work to re-develop Špitálka has taken place on many levels, and Brno’s councillor Filip Chvatal even visited RUGGEDISED Lighthouse Rotterdam to gather inspiration for future projects and consult with experts as the Heart of South neighbourhood currently benefiting from RUGGEDISED solutions – such as smart charging parking lots and intelligent street lighting – has similarities with the Špitálka District in Brno. A meet & greet with his Rotterdam colleague, Arno Bonte, completed councillor Chvatal’s trip:

“This visit was very effective; we were able to see for ourselves what has been already realised within [the] Heart of South since the start-up phase some years ago,” he said at that occasion.

The City of Brno hopes to launch the investor competition for the Špitálka District soon. It looks forward to building partnerships that will lead to progress and that will help the city set an example for the Czech Republic, and beyond, with its ambitious smart district project.

Photo: A8000

Parma showcases connection between finance, industry and sustainability

24 August 2021

From July 5th – 11th, 2021 Parma hosted the annual ‘Green Economy Festival’, an event that since 2011 has showcased thematic discussions, projects, and players related to the green economy.

This year’s edition of the festival placed a spotlight on climate change, renewable energy sources, urban regeneration, and sustainable fashion and tourism models. Parma brought together leading financial institutions, actors, and businesses whose work focuses on sustainability. With 150 speakers, 40 sessions, and 50 entrepreneurs completing the dynamic programme of events, the week was filled with important discussions related to food supply chains, green chemistry, sustainable mobility and transport, as well as a tour dedicated to highlighting ‘Sustainable Factories’ in Italy.

Fostering economic resilience through sustainability

The city of Parma was delighted to welcome the participation of the President of the Emilia Romagna Region, mayors, business leaders, economists and representatives from key local institutions such as Annalisa Sassi, President of the Parma Union of Industrialists, Paolo Andrei, Dean of the University of Parma, Alessandro Chiesi, President of Parma Io Ci Sto!, and Federico Pizzarotti, the Mayor of Parma.

The festival provided an exceptional opportunity to begin answering difficult questions such as: Will it be possible to travel with zero emissions in the future? Can we reduce the presence of chemicals in agriculture? How can we handle large fluctuations in global tourism that are growing as countries are better able to cope with the pandemic? Can fashion ever be truly sustainable? What impact will sustainability have on the world of finance?

Smart city for a smart, sustainable economy

A fundamental part of designing smart cities that can address these challenges in a sustainable and inclusive way involves a deep examination of the critical role that finance and economy have to play in fostering resilient, sustainable solutions. As a RUGGEDISED fellow city, Parma seeks to inspire decisive change in the behaviour of its citizens, institutions and businesses. Mirroring the themes of the Green Economy Festival, it aims to do so by hosting important conversations that encourage innovative ideas on topics like green chemistry, smart mobility, transport, renewable energy, circular economy, and more.

Parma Futuro Smart is living up to its role as a RUGGEDISED fellow city by participating in the organisation of events like the Green Economy Festival which can be replicated in similar-sized cities across Europe. The city of Parma is proud to have hosted such an influential event and looks forward to spearheading more in the future.


The Green Economy Festival was promoted in Italy by the ItalyPost in partnership with the Symbola Foundation and the Corriere della Sera. The event was organised in collaboration with the European Commission and the support of Lago e Crédit Agricole and Gazzetta di Parma.

The programme was developed thanks to the Festival’s scientific committee, chaired by Ermete Realacci, the President of the Symbola Foundation, and the promoters of the ‘Manifesto di Assisi.’

Adapted from the article ‘Green Week’ (in Italian):

RUGGEDISED recommits to scaling up smart solutions through European partnership

18 August 2021

The new SCALE partnership’s first event, taking place on the 1st and 2nd of July 2021, was used to underscore Lighthouse projects re-commitment to the Smart Cities Manifesto. In addition, it was a Joint event representing four H2020 Lighthouse smart city projects — Smarter Together, Replicate, Sharing Cities and SmartEnCity — that have recently ended or are about to.

The two-day event, with participation from a number of senior representatives from smart city projects, city governments, financiers, industry and the European Commission, was full of presentations, fruitful discussions, inspirational keynotes, knowledge sharing and joint recommendations.

Throughout the 16 sessions, the Lighthouse projects and SCALE showcased how parties should work together to make all of Europe climate neutral by 2050, discussed what kind of financing would be necessary for future innovative projects, highlighted joint collaboration, and took on board recommendations for the replication of solutions in more and more cities across Europe.

New Manifesto of collaboration

With the knowledge that working together is key to becoming a smart city, RUGGEDISED joined its 17 sister projects from the H2020 Smart Cities and Communities Lighthouse initiatives to sign a renewed Manifesto of Collaboration. The Manifesto had projects dedicate themselves to scaling up their pilots and to helping other cities implement innovative solutions in Europe.

The four projects that are ending hosted a thematic session broadcast from their respective studios in the Lighthouse cities of Sonderbog (DK), San Sebastián (ES), London (UK) and Lyon (FR).

The two-day conference was the first large event organized by the SCALE initiative. SCALE is a city-led initiative that provides extensive, long-term support for cities and projects involved in the H2020 Smart Cities and Communities Lighthouse Group (SCC-LG). SCALE was created with the aim to serve as a unifying element: networking and connecting all Lighthouse projects that are trying to improve their overall performance, in addition to enhancing the significance of the SSC-LG Group.

If you were unable to attend some of the sessions you can visit SCALE’s YouTube account. You can also stay in touch with its activities and upcoming events on social media: Twitter or LinkedIn.

Read: Collaborative approach as Rotterdam realises smart city solutions

16 July 2021

In the Heart of South, Rotterdam collaboration continues to foster innovation as the new Rotterdam Ahoy Convention Centre (RACC) recently finished installing 5,200 solar panels on its roof – the results of a fruitful partnership with the Energy Utility ENECO and Rotterdam Municipality.

While this investment in renewable energy is undoubtedly impressive, it is not unique in a district that is rapidly developing a name for itself as a nucleus of smart city experiments and solutions.

Read more about the cooperation through Sustain Europe.