An insight into European projects

sm city background (002)Today’s post is written by Suzanne Morton who manages European projects on behalf of Leeds City Council and Leeds Beckett University.

I am writing this from the airport concourse in Amsterdam Schipol airport, en route to a project plenary meeting in Thessaloniki, on the Greek mainland. As I’m travelling the time felt right for a blog post!

I work in a partnership role across Leeds Beckett University and Leeds City Council, managing Horizon2020 projects under the European Commission’s IoT (internet of things) innovation funding strand. Today I am travelling for the MONICA project, which aims to increase crowd safety, security and enjoyment at large-scale events through the use of IoT technology.

It is a pleasure working on projects like this, and not just because I get the added perk of international travel (although it didn’t feel like a perk when my alarm went off at 3.30am this morning!). The success and opportunities on these projects comes from the partnership and collaboration. Multidisciplinary teams made up of technologists, academics, SMEs and city authorities, as well as event planners and business experts, come together with a common purpose and bring a breadth of experience to produce something that is hard won, and in the future will bring benefits that can be shared across Europe.

These plenary meetings are a time when all the partners involved come together with a packed schedule of meetings and discussions and the opportunity to catch up and share from all the deployment sites (in this case six across Germany, Denmark, Italy, France & UK). Different partners take it in turn to host, meaning a good glimpse into other European cities and ways of working. This gave us the opportunity to show the best of Leeds and our strong partnerships – and for most delegates try out cricket for the first time – in May last year.

I am often asked how Brexit affects this sort of project for the future – of course we don’t yet know but it does sadden me that this way of working could be in jeopardy. There is so much learning to share, and the close cooperation is beneficial for everyone involved. Whatever the next few months bring, it is positive that Leeds remains so outward looking and open for business and I sincerely hope this spirit of collaboration is able to continue.

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