Recap of our visit to the Smart City World Expo in Barcelona

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The Amsterdam Smart City team is back in the Netherlands after an inspiring week at the Smart City Expo in Barcelona. The yearly Smart City Expo is the place where companies, entrepreneurs, start-ups, cities, and research institutions in the field of climate neutrality and smart cities meet. By promoting social innovation and identifying collaboration opportunities, the event is dedicated to creating a better future for cities and their citizens.

For the past months, we collaborated on a broad programme together with various Amsterdam Smart City partners. Curious to what we’ve been up in Barcelona? Read our recap below

Smart City Business Forum
On Monday, the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) and Cleantech Scandinavia hosted the Smart City Business Forum, bringing together around 400 international stakeholders with a focus on the role of private and public parties in achieving cities’ smart and climate-neutrality targets.

Amsterdam Smart City co-hosted a workshop together with the Norwegian cities of Oslo, Trondheim and Stavanger about innovative strategies and approaches for engaging citizens and reducing consumption-based CO2 emissions. Cornelia Dinca, International Liaison of Amsterdam Smart City shared several best-practices for citizen-driven projects from Amsterdam Region, including Waag’s citizen-measurement platform “Hollandse Luchten”, and the Schoonschip sustainable floating-neighborhood in Amsterdam North.

Innovation bike tour
On Monday afternoon, Amsterdam Smart City co-hosted an urban innovation bike tour through Barcelona. Guided by local historians, architects and city experts, we visited different neighbourhoods and urban innovation projects. After introducing urban planning visions like the “Plan Cerda” , we experienced key infrastructure projects and neighbourhood upgrades implemented for the 1992 Olympics.

We then visited the Superblocks, which sparked a childlike enthusiasm in many of us. Within the city, ‘islands’ of nine blocks are appointed as so-called Superblocks. Within these Superblocks, urban developers experiment with measures to reduce the presence of cars and create a greener, more liveable space for citizens. We saw first-hand how former intersections were transformed into squares, gardens, and meeting places for the local community. During the tour, we discussed the challenges in scaling the Superblocks concept across the city, and how Barcelona is inspiring other cities to limit car-access and car-dependency through similar initiatives.

Intelligent Cities Challenge (ICC): Mayors Forum & Panel Discussion
Over the past 2.5 years, the Intelligent Cities Challenge (ICC) of the European Commission (EC) brought together 136 cities in a peer network focused on supporting and accelerating the twin green and digital transition. The Amsterdam Region, represented by Amsterdam Economic Board and Amsterdam Smart City (ASC) participated in the Challenge as one of the mentor regions, sharing experiences and best practices throughout the ICC journey.

A two-day conference coinciding with the World Smart City Expo brought the current phase of the ICC to a close. The first day was dedicated to a Mayors’ Forum, a gathering of over 40 European mayors, vice-mayors, political representatives, and city leaders. Marja Ruigrok, vice-mayor of the city of Haarlemmermeer, represented Amsterdam Metropolitan Region and shared experiences related to Green Deals, a cornerstone of the ICC.

During the second day, Cornelia Dinca, Amsterdam Smart City International Liaison, and coordinator of Amsterdam Region’s participation in the ICC, contributed to a panel on the Transition to the Green Economy, sharing the Amsterdam Smart City approach to building innovation ecosystems and facilitating multi-stakeholder collaboration on key societal transitions. Full reports from the two-day conference are available via the ICC website.

Incoming & Outgoing Missions from Dutch Pavilion
Amsterdam Smart City hosted several incoming and outgoing missions from the Dutch Pavilion in collaboration with the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO). The purpose of these missions was to provide Dutch delegates opportunities to connect with international colleagues, facilitating knowledge exchange, collaboration and trade. The programme consisted of guided visits to the Microsoft, EIT Urban Mobility, and the European Commission pavilions, and the chance to meet with international colleagues from the Canadian, Australian, German and Finish delegations.

Leonie in panel discussion at Congress
On Wednesday, Leonie was part of a panel discussion about ‘Designing the City from the Bottom-up’. Leonie spoke about how we’re moving away from top-down urban design principles and aim for cities inspired by people. The peoples’ will to have a say in the design of their environment is already there, it’s up to policy makers and urban planners to facilitate this participation in the best way possible.

Leonie emphasized that we need to execute radical changes to keep our cities and planet liveable. Implementing topics like new mobility systems and renewable energy will have a huge impact on how we design cities. “We need the wisdom and creativity of the crowd to do well. As the city is not only for citizens, but from them”.

We want to thank all co-organizing partners for a great week in Barcelona! If you have any questions about the programme of this year, or 2023, don’t hesitate to reach out to our Community Manager Sophie via And we hope to see you in Barcelona next year!