Manchester has not only two world-class football teams to offer, it is also a playground for digital and open innovation. Since the launch of the ambitious CityVerve project, Manchester regularly ranks high in smart city top lists among UK cities. As one of eight reference cities in the SynchroniCity project, the city further cements its ambitions as an open innovator.

Elizabeth Baker, Senior Policy Officer at Manchester City Council, manages the SynchroniCity project and shares with us her impressions from the open call city clinics. In the city clinics she met one-on-one with interested start-ups and SMEs help find quick answers to the most urgent questions.

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

We are very excited by the interest generated in Manchester and the solutions potential applicants wish to pilot. Applicants have shown interest in providing the city with services such as people counting or air quality analytics, traffic-flow management and surface water runoff sensing.

What was the most frequently asked question you’ve heard from potential applicants?

The common thread seemed to be whether the solution they could provide would be feasible in Manchester and whether there would be buy-in from the city to pilot such a solution. In terms of feasibility, understanding what data is available in Manchester is key. For buy-in, the solution needs to align with Manchester’s current strategic goals which have been outlined and published on our YouTube channel and on the SynchroniCity website.

If there is one advice you can share with potential applicants from SMEs and large businesses, what would it be?

Our best advice is to ensure that the solution provided is within the strategic goals Manchester has outlined to ensure there is buy-in from the city. We are available for calls to discuss this in further detail.

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

Other cities wishing to join should be aware of the resource necessary to become SynchroniCity compliant – a dedicated team should be put together involving persons and input from the city’s IT department.

About Elizabeth Baker

Elizabeth supports the programme management of SynchroniCity in Manchester. She began her work in the City Policy department at Manchester City Council (MCC) on the CityVerve project, a ‘smart city demonstrator’ for the UK. Prior to her work at MCC she conducted research on environmental policy in Glasgow and education policy in New York City. She has an academic background in social policy, with a BA in Urban Studies from Fordham University, a Certification in Social Sciences from Columbia University and an MSc in Public and Urban Policy from the University of Glasgow.