Increasing the engagement with the citizens, improving operations’ efficiency and providing better services. To reach these goals, the city of Porto has been implementing a strategy, which is supported by the development of digital platforms, the availability of city data, and the expansion and upgrade of the IoT and communications infrastructures.

And SynchroniCity is a vital part of this process. Implemented by Porto Digital Association, Porto aims at becoming an active actor in the development of the digital single market, where cities, companies and other stakeholders can work together to improve the urban quality of life. The SynchroniCity open call is now the first opportunity to scale IoT-enabled solutions.

Because the open call is complex and every city has different priorities, every core partner city organises open call clinics. Here, companies can exchange directly with city representatives and discuss their solutions to prepare a good proposal.

Paulo Calçada, CEO of the Porto Digital Association, shares his impression and learnings from Porto’s first of three open call clinics.

Interview questions

Porto recently organised its first open call clinic. Who took the chance to meet you personally?

During Porto’s first clinic, we had the chance to meet two technology based SMEs (a Dutch and a Portuguese one) that are already collaborating with cities in some sense. One solution provides a citizen engagement and data processing platform, and the other comprises sensors and a data processing platform.

We also spoke with a company that’s operating in a different field, providing data analytics solutions for hospitals and clinics, which may be enriched with city’s environmental data. It shows that technologies that are being used in different contexts might also be applied in the context of the city. The market of the cities can be a huge opportunity for companies that are still not looking at it as a potential next step.

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?

I’d say that companies are really understanding the open call as an opportunity to further develop and demonstrate their solutions in the city’s context, but also to find a new unexplored market that is eager for innovation. Some solutions that were presented are already solving someone’s problems. So there is a great potential to solve our citizen’s challenges as well, but on a larger scale. The companies that attended the first clinics were pretty much trying to understand the value that their solutions can bring to Porto, and exploring how their solutions can fit our city’s challenges and benefit from the SynchroniCity’s platform and ecosystem.

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

The most common question was “How can this be interesting for you?”, as companies were really focused in understanding the value of their solutions to Porto. It is good to see that by applying to this open call, the companies are committed towards the development of solutions that can be adopted by the cities in a long term and in a replicable way.

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

Cities are now looking for solutions that allow them to incrementally increase the efficiency of their operations and services, but also to improve the citizens’ quality of life, and are willing to work with providers on a flexible basis, in order to meet very specific needs. It is important for companies to understand this ‘Custom Stacks’ trend when building their proposals, and that each proposed solution must clearly solve an identified city problem.

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

The most important things are the commitment of the new city to the three OASC principles, and the readiness level to become part of such an ecosystem. It applies not only to technical infrastructure or having a dedicated team, but also to the availability and quality of data, which is a key factor to successfully implement the solutions.

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

We’ll be glad to support potential applicants. We’ll have a new open call clinic taking place on 26 July where we’ll be providing feedback and clarifying questions about the application process and about our specific challenges.

Those interested can join by registering on the link that’s available at on the SynchroniCity website

About Paulo Calçada

Paulo Calçada is the CEO of the Porto Digital Association. Together with the Innovation Department of the Municipality of Porto, and under the political leadership of the City Councillor for Innovation and Environment, he is managing the implementation of digital and smart city strategies in the city of Porto, which include innovation and entrepreneurship policies. Besides, he coordinates the teams involved in the SynchroniCity project and assures the proper cooperation with other city management institutions.