When you only look at the number of inhabitants, the municipality of Carouge in Switzerland is the smallest of the eight SynchroniCity partner cities. But that doesn’t tell anything about this city’s ambition to become a frontrunner smart city. Located next to Geneva, the activities in Carouge aim at stimulating the region as a whole.

Carouge has recently held its second open call clinic to support interested applicants with their proposal. In our interview, Laurent Horvath, Smart City Manager of Carouge, shares his first impressions and gives some simple, but effective tips for a good application.

You’ve organised two open call clinics already: Who come around to learn more about Carouge and the SynchroniCity open call?

Mostly local SMEs with very interesting ideas. Most of these companies have never participated in a European project. It is good to bring fresh air and new blood.

The SynchroniCity open call has gained a lot of interest in the last weeks: What’s your first impression of the potential applicants who joined the clinics?

The solutions proposed are very creative and pragmatic. There is a major difference discussing with start-ups or SMEs. The SMEs already sell their services or their products and they know what is required to get their system up and running. On the other hand, it is quite a challenge to implement a solution in two or more cities.  I’ve also noticed that some of them are reconsidering their participation because the deployment of IoT devices is not financially covered by the open call.

Is there a question that all potential applicants had in common?

The big challenge is to find where the solutions could be implemented. And by this I mean in which reference city of the project. Another challenge for the SMEs is how they can find new partners outside of their home market. One opportunity is via the SynchroniCity Connect Section. Because the interoperability aspect of SynchroniCity offers new opportunities for SMEs, this is a new world they have to discover, if they want to develop their business. Simplicity of solutions could play a major success factor here.

Is there any advice you can share with potential applicants from SMEs and large businesses?

Keep it simple!

And when looking for partners, try to find them outside of your current circle. Go abroad. This is an opportunity to expand outside of your current market.

There are also cities interested in joining SynchroniCity via the open call. What would you recommend them to do to become a vital part?

Some cities might have very good solutions already operating. But a city push creates the same fiasco than a tech push. At 180 degrees from the disease, it is the same disease! Don’t try to push your solution, but first understand the needs of the other cities in the project and then team up with them.

There will be more open call clinics in Carouge, how and where can interested SMEs, businesses, and other cities sign up?

In Carouge, the next clinic will be on 14 September from 8 to 12h. You can register on the SynchroniCity website.

About Laurent Horvath

Laurent is the Smart City Manager of Carouge, Switzerland, and coordinates the SynchroniCity project there. He is also piloting the strategy and the implementation of the Smart State Geneva and has been advising IoT start-ups and SMEs for more than seven years.