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Published June 16, 2015

SmartClean – The Clean approach transforming Copenhagen

How can a major urban development project in Helsinki learn from Copenhagen's experience?
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Author's profile page: Ari Karjalainen

Ari Karjalainen is Project Director at the City Executive Office of the City of Helsinki, responsible for the Östersundom regional development project.

The mission of Östersundom urban development project in Helsinki is to enable green economic growth and innovative investments in green technology. Copenhagen has been widely recognised for its adoption of new technologies to assist in transforming the city into a green metropolis. A group from the City of Helsinki and Sitra, reinforced by representatives from the corporate world, visited the City of the Little Mermaid to discover all about Danish cleantech.

What is Copenhagen’s cleantech hype all about?

The leaders in the field of commercialising clean and smart know-how in Copenhagen are the networks carrying out practical project development. These networks consist of companies, the public sector and researchers. The Clean network is based on Danish cleantech know-how. It identifies challenges in the global market and develops solutions that create value.

In this work, Clean uses a proactive four-phase process.

  1. The process starts by identifying challenges in the selected strategic focus areas and engaging a suitable project developer.
  2. An innovation platform is created, in which value chains and funding are investigated, needs are defined and the best partners are found through joint development.
  3. A consortium is established to develop a project that can be implemented and funded. The implementers are selected via competitive dialogue.
  4. In the implementation phase, the project developer arranges funding for the project. The aim is to spark the interest of investors with a scalable solution.

Creating value to benefit the taxpayers

The joint development company of the city and the state, By og Havn, is responsible for developing Nordhavn and Ørestad, two new districts in Copenhagen. The city transfers the land in the project area to the balance sheet of the development company free of charge. The development company is tasked with creating value in the project area, so that the profits gained from selling the lots cover the construction of the infrastructure and the public areas as well as parts of the automated metro. Clean and smart solutions play an important role in this creation and marketing of value, and the aim is to achieve better profitability through corporate activity so that tax revenue would not be needed in order to implement new districts.

Östersundom’s similar approach

In the Östersundom urban development project, a similar networked development project is undergoing a trial run. The challenge is to enable green economic growth in the urban development project. An industrial park based on a circular economy is being developed as the first spearhead project in the area. It acts as an innovation platform, producing a variety of bio-based products, biofuels and bioenergy. The developer is the Östersundom urban development project, whose partners include Sitra, Siemens, Helen, Ramboll, Devecon and Inspira. Negotiations are currently ongoing with new interested business partners, such as Gasum.

The Östersundom urban development project applies Copenhagen’s best practices first in developing the industrial park and later in the actual regional construction. The goal is a clear management model free of isolated bunkers, which brings better productivity and effective use of the balance sheet.

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