Cross-border smart cities in Finland and Estonia

cross-border smart cities
© iStock/Alexander Farnsworth

Finland’s Aalto University and Estonian Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech) have received a joint grant to build a smart city centre of excellence.

The €32 million Teaming Grant, co-financed by funding from the EU and the Estonian government, will enable research and development teams at both universities to test and implement smart city strategies; with the eventual goal of building cross-border smart cities across the EU. The “Finest Twins” project is the brainchild of Dr Ralf-Martin Soe from the Nurkse Department of TalTech, who said: “The two cultural twins, Finland and Estonia, will work more closely together and treat the Talsinki [Tellinn and Helsinki] region as something more synergistic that just two regions in two different countries.”

The Finest Twins project, which its creators hope will become a “smart and sustainable” model for future cross-border smart cities and affiliated projects, will be overseen by Horizon 2020. Researchers at both universities will benefit from partnerships with the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications and Finnish digital innovation firm Forum Virum Helsinki. Participants are expected to build cross-border cooperative research and innovation bases and networks focusing on data; energy generation and storage; governance; mobility and connectivity; and infrastructure and the built environment.

Jaak Aaviksoo, the rector of TalTech, said: “This is the largest ever competitive research and development grant in Estonia. The Estonian Research Council has compared the Teaming Grant to receiving a research and development Oscar Award. This is a significant recognition of the belief that TalTech and Aalto researchers can innovate modern cities towards more citizen-oriented and sustainable futures.”

Once the Finest Twins cross-border smart cities centre is completed, it is projected to boost international governmental cooperation between Finland and Estonia; build links between Aalto and Tallinn Universities and surrounding industry; and promote local innovation projects and export capabilities in the Talsinki region.


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