Z

Create a forward-looking digital strategy and build a shared vision around it


Forward-looking strategies require local leaders with a global view, high imagination and the ability to paint the vision with a high level acceptance of the population. The governance perspective is ultimately about taking responsibility to create the necessary platforms and engagement channels for the stakeholders to act out from. These platforms are relationship-based forums serving the needs of the actors for the design of a digital transformation agenda building on the territory’s economic strengths.

A forward-looking strategy and a shared vision of the future

Digital cities and regions bring people together to work and confront digitallyenabled challenges and to collaboratively explore the digital transformation opportunities. The existence of a shared vision (with strong and organizational and personal buy-in) of the future among local stakeholders is a precondition for the success of any digital transformation strategy. This forward-looking approach enables local governments to adapt their digital strategies prospectively, a musthave given the complexity of the digital economyand its disruption potential.

Nice’s advisory Board

In Nice (France), an advisory board gathering representatives from local businesses and chaired by the president of Amadeus, the global IT company, was created by the economic development agency to keep pace with the latest technological advances likely to have an impact on the region’s economy. ³

Leveraging on the territory’s economic assets The local digital strategy also entails the identification of the right industry focus linked to relevant cluster areas of the territory (e.g. ICT, creative, health, wellbeing, life sciences). The smart specialisation strategy of the region can serve as a practical reference for the identification of the right industry focus. The city government acting as a thought leader is therefore responsible for the alignment of the city´s internal digital strategy with the territorially agreed digital strategy.


Local leaders for an inclusive and collaborative digital ecosystem City mayors and regional government leaders are considered as the typical owners of the digital initiatives. However, digital territories can be supported by local leaders from diverse sectors and backgrounds. Local companies seeing the potential for new revenue streams and aiming to capitalize on consumer’s interest in all things digital are eyeing opportunities to engage and collaborate with city decision-makers on the digital transformation of local businesses. Academic institutions and research centres are also key actors of the digital ecosystem creating the digital talents needed for the digital transformation of the territory. Citizens and especially the civic tech community can also play the role of change makers advocating and acting for the digital transformation of local businesses. All these actors of the digital ecosystem interact, exchange and choose their partnerships and collaborative projects. By taking actions and seeking new collaboration opportunities, these stakeholders can all lead the way for the digital transformation of local businesses.

Visionary individuals shaping the digital transformation of the local economy Digital initiatives enabling the digital transformation of cities and regions are often driven by forward-looking individuals rapidly realising the opportunities of the digital transformation of their local economy. Defining the necessary new work processes entail cracking the digital transformation code. It is about enabling the emergence of new ideas, active crosssectorial networking, digital activismand the redefinition of entrepreneurship (business, political, academic, social and societal entrepreneurship). These radically new approaches can only be carried out by visionary individuals acting as leaders and further developing awareness and insights for the digital transformation of their city or region. This role of connector and facilitator is critical for the successful implementationof any digital strategy.

Leadership does not have to come from a public authority Local governments have a key role to play in the creation of long-lasting partnerships and trust relationships between all the stakeholders. However leadership should not be regarded as the preserve of local authorities. Cities and regions provide a space to challenge and push the public sector to take an entrepreneurial approach to digitalise industries. However, digital cities and regions also attract people and investments; therefore, if industries get in line with the digital spirit of the territory, they have access to a broad market. This can serve as an incentive for their digitalisation which encourages the private sector to take leadership in the digital transformationprocess.

Visionary individuals shaping the digital transformation of the local economy Digital initiatives enabling the digital transformation of cities and regions are often driven by forward-looking individuals rapidly realising the opportunities of the digital transformation of their local economy. Defining the necessary new work processes entail cracking the digital transformation code. It is about enabling the emergence of new ideas, active crosssectorial networking, digital activismand the redefinition of entrepreneurship (business, political, academic, social and societal entrepreneurship). These radically new approaches can only be carried out by visionary individuals acting as leaders and further developing awareness and insights for the digital transformation of their city or region. This role of connector and facilitator is critical for the successful

The Espoo Innovation Garden is poised to shape Espoo as Europe’s digital star. The term “Espoo Innovation Garden” refers to the innovation ecosystem and the creative working styles along with the cocreation culture that it aims to unleash. The concept was selected as a metaphor recalling the fruitful collaborative activities that are necessary to build the best possible environment for entrepreneurship. The Garden connects the Aalto University with the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. With a total of 5,000 researchers, 25 R&D centres, a vast number of Finnish and international companies bringing together workers from more than 100 nationalities. The Espoo Innovation Garden has created a digital ecosystem favourable to the digital transformation of its local businesses. The launch of the Espoo Innovation Garden in 2014 illustrates the city’s strategy to encourage collaboration between the local stakeholders of the digital ecosystem.

Disclaimer: Reproduction is authorised provided the source is acknowledged. The information and views set out in this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of EASME, the European Commission or other European Institutions. EASME does not guarantee the accuracy of the data included in this website. Neither EASME, nor the Commission or any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.