The French model for a new Tech-city

November, 8 2013

One of the keywords of the third “TITT year” is Innovation as Tech – cities.

Recently the European Commission acknowledged the role of cities as place of systemic innovation, with their capacity to connect people, places, public and private actors which are mutually reinforcing. Cities can build up an innovation ecosystem; cities can enable, inspire and nurture innovation by encouraging, engaging and empowering talented innovators from different walks of life: professionals, policy-makers and entrepreneurs as well.

Jean Louis Missika, Deputy-mayor of Paris in charge of innovation, research and universities, met the TITT Community to present the French model for a new world capital of innovation.

Cities have historically been intelligence focused, observed Missika, so it is not the twenty-first century who invented the Smart cities. The smart city was born with the city.

What’s new, at the present, is the urban transformation and its speed.

How could a city substain it? The French recipe is based on two pillars: start up incubation and experimentation. The entire city, the public territory, must be transformed in an open space laboratory, in a Living-Lab.

As the Community members could discover, Paris is quite advanced in this direction, designing some of the most important trends for future cities.

The leading idea is the circular economy, where the waste of the one is turned into a resource for another: just to give some examples, Paris is already experimenting the urban agriculture, with the “Fertile city” project,  where people recover the municipal organic waste, and the  “Urban green” project, which is creating an artificial groundwater to develop gardens on rooftops. The city is also producing renewable energy from alternative sources like the subway braking and the heat generated by the data center or by the drainage system.

Paris is therefore expressing itself as a Living-Lab, and it is more and more attractive for startups and big tech – corporations thanks to its system in two dimensions, which combines ultra -specialized incubators with the generalists.