Nordicum - Real Estate Annual Finland 2015 - Page 54

Photos: Sigge Architects Bring on the Brains Turku accelerates its Smart City agenda by creating a “supercampus” Going well beyond sustainable, Turku gets busy raising its urban IQ: Smart City attitudes and practices are gaining momentum in the entire Turku Region. This transition did not, however, take place overnight: sustainable development has long been a core value at Turku and the community has been internationally noted for its efforts, too – for example, receiving the ICLEI Honorary Award in 2006 and signing the European Declaration of Sustainable Cities already in 1996. Turku really switched into a high gear in 2011, as the Urban Infrastructure Initiative (UII) workshopped intensively with the City of Turku to identify priorities for advancing sustainability. I n fact, Turku was the first city to take part in the UII programme which brought some international “heavy hitters” from such companies as Toyota and Siemens to Turku. A key project of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), UII was launched in 2010 to help cities meet the inter-connected challenges of sustainable development. Brainstorming Boost Jouko Turto, Director of Turku Municipal Property Corporation, recognises that the workshopping sessions of 2011 ignited a spark that has yet to die down: “There was really good interaction and dialogue. The top executives of World Busi52 Nordicum ness Council were eager to learn about our best practices and there was much we could learn from them as well,” says Turto. As it turns out, the workshopping resulted in Siemens and the City signing a three-year contract to fully explore the realms of smart and sustainable practises in, for instance, new city neighbourhoods such as Skanssi. “The cooperation with Siemens has taught us the value of working together with companies in such issues as energy, transport and sustainable construction and living.” Next-Practice Reach It was apparent already from UII sessions that, for example, public-private partnerships and performance contracting could be relevant in order to realise light rail in the city; to realise cutting-edge smart grid systems; to take regional traffic management to another level. Encouraged by its past successes, Turku has sought to create cross-over initiatives that bridge conventional “silos”. Jouko Turto notes that the most promising ideas cut across several themes. Hi-tech solutions are very much on table, as for example applying ICT to improve city energy efficiency will start to reach its full potential. The crown jewel in midst of all this is the Turku Science Park, one of the biggest and oldest innovation parks in the land. There are plans to realise a world-class hitech campus in the park which has a long and successful history of bridging the academic and the corporate.