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European Innovation Council

Aveiro (Portugal)

The European Rising Innovative city - 3rd place: Aveiro (Portugal)


Aveiro: a city to be lived and enjoyed

Aveiro is considered a digital cluster and a territory of innovation and over the past 3 years, through Aveiro Tech City initiative, the city implemented a new technological revolution with the adoption of 5G and IoT infrastructures that drastically improved the local innovation ecosystem, and also promoted different activities to leverage the shortage of digital skills.

Aveiro aims to continue help companies to rethink the resources they need to innovate, grow and establish means to attract a new range of talent to the new digital opportunities in a STEAM approach and intends to transform the city in a living lab capable to help local government to collect and share relevant information about new exciting ways to manage the city and where new companies, projects and services can be developed, tested and implemented, thus assuming technology and digital transformation as a vehicle to build a sustainable city.

To achieve this goal, Aveiro defined a strategy based in four pillars: education, training, technology, services and applications and challenges, which combined, make it possible to position Aveiro as an innovative, attractive and competitive hub.

Its innovation is based on approaches which are themselves novel (STEAM education and 5G infrastructure) but it is especially innovative in the way that it integrates them in a new urban concept (testbed). Aveiro has implemented different activities with short and long-term impact that aims to reinforce the position of our city into an economy based on knowledge, valorising the full range of talents, RD&I, open data and development of new products & services for the growth of companies and creation of new jobs.

Aveiro: a test-bed city

Its governance system and active cooperation among partners has allowed Aveiro to establish a framework that boosts breakthrough innovation, while ensuring the mainstreaming of these practices into the ordinary urban development process, emphasising as example:

  • Implementation of Aveiro Tech City Living Lab, composed by an advanced communications infrastructure that, together with an urban platform, provide an open and large-scale technology laboratory in the city at the service of researchers, digital industries, start-ups, scale-ups, R&D centres, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders interested in developing, testing or demonstrating concepts, products or services.
  • Development of a Digital Urban Platform in order to create a City Governance Centre for Aveiro, being this platform able to process and analyse data and cross information from various sources, providing analytical and predictive services for IoT applications and vertical applications for the city.
  • Implementation of an experimental 5G testbed, being Aveiro one of the few 5G trial Cities in Europe, allowing that several public services (for example civil protection), start-ups, SME and R&D centres could also test and develop new services or products based on this network.
  • Implementation of innovative Use Cases that reinvents public management and response towards a more sustainable city: Use Case on Mobility; Use Case on Energy; Use Case on Environment, among others.

Aveiro: a STEAM Education City

Education is a crucial cornerstone for the construction of a knowledge-based municipality. To achieve that, its STEAM Education programme relies its actions on a modern and interdisciplinary approach to promote the development of entrepreneurial skills (through training and contests) and to promote the discovery and interest of students in STEAM areas (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics), through the provision of low and high tech equipment, training and assessment in classroom contexts, as a way to prepare schools, teachers and students for the challenges of the new millennium, adjusted to the new demands and needs of the job market.

Also, with this programme, by starting to introduce these subjects in children and young people, in an early age, Aveiro is contributing to a society based on knowledge and, therefore, more open to innovate, co-create and to be more competitive.

The programme is developed through the implementation of several initiatives (Tech Labs, UBBU, STEAM Artistic Residences, among others) in which, all of them, the teacher assumes a fundamental role, as an agent of change, in the transmission of knowledge to the student, the final beneficiary.

Aveiro: looking to the FUTURE

Aveiro faces, as a small-medium size city, a totally new challenge: it is not anymore (just) about creating employment, but how to attract, retain, adapt or convert talents into the present and future needs of the local economic fabric - and vice-versa, how to adapt these needs to the new education and qualification dynamics, while facing competition from larger urban centres, both internally and abroad.

Aveiro is developing a business-friendly urban ecosystem through shared investments in key enabling IE and IoT urban platform to provide better public services to citizens, new innovations and opportunities that allow companies to better use available talent and to produce more added-value services. The main innovation lays on the novel integration of the 2 approaches at urban level: Aveiro helps businesses to re-shape the way they do business (and hence the talent they require to do so) through enhance technology and cooperative business models, and we develop an education and qualification system to ensure the requested talent in terms of technological skills, but also creativity, artistic inspiration and innovation.

The result will be a long-term strategic vision/plan able to accelerate the growth of highly innovation framework by involving different players of society, from public, institutions, academia, industry, scholar community to citizens, to use technology and the city as a living lab, to be acknowledge and prepare for the digital world and be able to co-create innovative, suitable and resilient projects, making Aveiro a “richer” city with an impact in quality of life.