The eighth Urban Strategy Council meeting was held in Newcastle, UK, between the 26th and the 28th September 2016, in the presence of Isabelle Kocher, Didier Holleaux, Olivier Biancarelli and Wilfrid Petrie. Partnerships were signed on this occasion, illustrating the integration of ENGIE in local and global ecosystems of the City's actors.
Back in 2012, ENGIE set up the Conseil Stratégique d’Innovation Urbaine (CSIU) or Urban Strategy Council, gathering together a number of independent experts in the field of urban development from across the world, with the aim of producing a humanistic and innovative vision of the cities of tomorrow, sustainable,agreeable and safer to live in. The Urban Strategy Council has played a critical role in the production of ENGIE’s response to these new urban challenges, providing a wider, multi-disciplinary view of strategies and actions, and continues too inform and alert ENGIE of current and future urban trends.
The 8th meeting of the Council, which was held in Newcastle (UK) between the 26th and the 28th September, involved, in addition to the Council Members, other representatives of ENGIE (BU UK, Tractebel Engineering, Ineo, BtoT) and two other guests: Laura Schewel, founder and CEO of Street Light Data, a company ENGIE invested in, back in March 2016, which uses anonymous telecoms and GPS data to model traffic flow through an area and John Rossant, founder and Chairman of New Cities Foundation, a network of cities, with whom the Group signed a partnership during this meeting.
Newcastle, as a city, is a perfect example of urban innovation, in the image of Singapore, Barcelona and Boston, previous hosts of the Urban Strategy Council meetings. The city has introduced a programme of urban development, resolutely aiming to create a dynamic, attractive eco-system, re-uniting both private and public investors to promote the historical culture of the city.
The work undertaken by the Council covered a number of strategic elements: integrated urban service offers, combining digital services and infrastructure, intelligent transport systems, an offer of the services provided by Street Light Data and their application in both the strategic planning of cities and the sizing of infrastructure, and finally, the strategy of the BU UK in the development of urban services.
Finally, the 28th September was an occasion to discover the partnership between ENGIE and the North Tyneside Council, bounding Newcastle. This is a public-private partnership with an extremely wide remit, ENGIE is helping the Council successfully undertake a wide range of various public service missions such as the collection of taxes and is working, on behalf of the Council to manage its call centre, the tax payer’s reception centre and its IT back office systems. ENGIE is also working with North Tyneside to implement an ambitious digital strategy that aims at making public services more efficient and allowing citizens to better control the use of their personal data.
During this, the 8th meeting of the Urban Strategy Council, Isabelle Kocher signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Newcastle University, represented by its Vice-chancellor, Chris Brink. This MOU is the foundation stone for all future cooperation between ENGIE and Newcastle University, notably involving the Cities of Tomorrow Key Program, which will be at the heart of three future national research centres, opening their doors in 2018. This cooperative venture with Newcastle University will primarily concentrate on the analysis of urban data; digital services for ageing populations; intelligent networks and battery storage. The signing of this MOU furthers ENGIE’s ambitions, specifically the ambitions of ENGIE in the UK, to become a leader in Digital Services for Cities and Territories, and to be able to provide integrated local services.
“ENGIE is a major player in the energy and services sectors across the United Kingdom, and we have signed a large number of innovative contracts with various municipal authorities”, said Isabelle Kocher. “The manner in which ENGIE has integrated itself into the public-private partnerships in Newcastle has been exemplary, whether it be in relation to its work with the Newcastle and North Tyneside Councils, or in the fields of research and innovation”, continued Isabelle Kocher, who, in addition, stressed the primordial importance of the work being undertaken by Newcastle University in the field of applied research into energy and urban development. “The energy revolution starts in the cities. The fact that ENGIE’s Urban Strategy Council is holding its 8th meeting in Newcastle is symbolic of the implementation of our strategy of partnering with local authorities in order to jointly build the city of tomorrow”.
Professor Chris Brink, Vice-chancellor of the Newcastle University, declared: “This new partnership is testament to the potential of Science Central as a global centre for urban innovation. Building on the announcement of three national research centres in energy, smart data and ageing, working with ENGIE will take us a step closer to realising our vision for Science Central as an exemplar of sustainable urban development. We already work very closely with the Newcastle City Council, and the city itself is our laboratory.”
Olivier Biancarelli and John Rossant jointly signed an agreement, making ENGIE part of the network of partners in the New Cities Foundation, as an ‘Innovation member”. The Foundation is a non-profit organisation and shares, with ENGIE, the ambition of promoting an improved future for urban environments, favouring innovation and entrepreneurial spirit.