The Catalan government and the i2CAT Foundation choose the University of Bristol as their new smart city partner


The Catalan’s Minister for Digital Policies and president of the i2CAT Foundation, Mr. Jordi Puigneró, has signed a partnership with the University of Bristol to advance smart city and 5G research and innovation.

A smart city uses digital technologies to improve the lives of people and to protect the environment and both the University of Bristol and i2CAT are already world leaders in this field of research. The memorandum of understanding signed by the two institutions will provide a blueprint for urban centres around the world.

We want Barcelona to be the ‘5G capital’ of southern Europe and we are developing a genuine digital agenda to enable Catalonia to become an international hub”, said the Catalan Minister. Sergi Figuerola, CTIO of the i2CAT Foundation, added: “5G is a game-changer and collaboration between research institutions is key. I am very happy to set-up and consolidate this collaboration.

Signature between the Catalan government and the University of Bristol

Signature between the Catalan government and the University of Bristol

In 2018, the two cities became the first in Europe to create urban 5G testbeds. This, combined with widely connected city infrastructure, has transformed them into living labs, where smart services and solutions can be tested in a real environment.

This allows citizens to experience new forms of transport, healthcare, education, waste collection, air quality and other critical services, enhancing quality of life for a growing number of city dwellers.

More than 12 years of collaboration between the institutions

For Professor Dimitra Simeonidou, Director of the Smart Internet Lab and member of the Scientific Advisory Board at i2CAT, stated that this partnership will formalize a long-standing collaboration with i2CAT, an institution with which we share a common vision, principles and expertise. I’m now looking forward to developing new models of urban transformation that are fit for our future society.”

Smart technology in both cities is already making an impact. The University of Bristol’s 5G test-network has supported the digital transformation of key sectors including public safety, transport, tourism, energy and health and social care. With the establishment of the Bristol Digital Futures Institute earlier this year, the institution has become a leading centre for new models of innovation that will transform future society and industry.

The i2CAT Foundation is a founding member of the 5GBarcelona initiative, through which the city’s ambulances have implemented 5G and are able to receive real-time video support while carrying a patient. The project will soon evolve to connect them to city infrastructure, ensuring clear roads on their way to hospitals. This technology could also support the first remote real-time video-assisted surgery, which will undoubtedly save lives.

By working more closely together, the two Institutions hope to develop new research and innovation models launched by citizens and to promote new open innovation models between research centers for digital technologies in Catalonia and West England.