SynchroniCity and the art of the possible

Innovative partnerships between businesses and public authorities have the potential to harness technology to develop services that can improve citizens’ lives and create long-term, sustainable economic development. But the lack of standardised solutions and APIs can make that difficult.

SynchroniCity was a project that aimed to create a harmonised marketplace for IoT services, to open up a global market of IoT-enabled services for cities and communities. It ran over three years from January 2017 to December 2019 and received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme, as part of the €104m Large Scale Pilots Programme.

SynchroniCity was created in order to address and solve the challenges posed by a lack of standardised solutions and application programming interfaces (APIs), which makes it difficult to integrate new technologies into city services. Additionally, the high risk of vendor lock-in deters the provision of large investments into the new smart city infrastructure, which limits potential growth and scale for new IoT infrastructures and service developers.

To overcome these challenges, SynchroniCity built a harmonised marketplace for IoT enabled and urban data services, by:

  • Establishing a reference architecture for an IoT-enabled city with identified interoperability points and interfaces and data models from different verticals
  • Developing tools for co-creation and integration of legacy platforms and IoT devices for urban services
  • Providing enablers for data discovery, access and licensing thus lowering the barriers for participation for participation on the market place

Connected Places Catapult was tasked with running the project’s €3M Open Call as part of the SynchroniCity project to test the market response and to find businesses which could develop and deploy innovative solutions to this challenge.

What Happened

The Open Call ran from 1st June 2018 until September 2018. Three million euros were made available for pilots which could be deployed in multiple city locations.

The targeted SMEs were mature IoT-enabled SMEs (TRL ≥ 6). Projects would be funded by up to 80% of the total budget, with a maximum grant of €100k (single SME) and €300k (consortia of SMEs and new cities).

More than 130 proposals were submitted by SMEs individually, or as group leader company-led groups. From these proposals, Connected Places Catapult selected 16 proposals including 40 companies.

The evaluation, selection and rescoping period ran from October 2018 to January 2019. In February 2019, we welcomed 16 shortlisted pilot projects to our Urban Innovation Centre to kick off the deployment of their IoT enabled solutions across city sites worldwide.

The implementation phase was scheduled from February to September 2019.

The Open Call resulted in the successful roll-out of 50 services to 21 cities, to deliver successful scaling of IoT solutions between smart cities and communities. Connected Places Catapult won an award from the EU’s Innovation Radar 2020 for the team’s work on the Open Call, along with the project coordinator, Aarhus University and ENoLL, which was in charge of project communications.

Future Cities Catapult also helped deliver SynchroniCity by developing the performance in use economic assessment framework and the cities monitoring framework. Our teams also engaged the cities themselves through the development of new IoT services.


We are delighted that Connected Places Catapult has been identified and included as Key Innovator by the European Commission’s Innovation Radar, together with our project partners, for innovative actions developed in our work for the Synchronicity project!