Latest in Innovation

Christian Orsing - Mayor of Europe - January ’23 - InnovationChristian Orsing, Mayor of Helsingborg, Sweden is the Mayor of Europe for January ’23 in the Innovation category.
Image: City of Helsingborg

The IoT platform will create crucial infrastructure for the city and its partners to explore, test and showcase new standards and ideas for change

Christian Orsing has been the mayor of Helsingborg since October 2022, succeeding Peter Danielsson who held office for 16 years. Mr Orsing represents the Moderate Party and has been involved in the development of Helsingborg for decades.

Born and raised in that city, he has a broad perspective on all issues concerning its development. He is a former police officer and has held various elected positions during his political career.

Mr Mayor, 2022 was a big year for Helsingborg. What were the post-effects of the H22 Expo on the city? What has changed?

In 2019, a decision was made to accelerate the City of Helsingborg’s innovation work. The initiative was called H22 – a long-term investment to improve quality of life for those living and working in the city. The path to achieving the goals has involved challenges, but also inspiring opportunities.

During the summer of 2022 the work culminated with the H22 City Expo. Over half a million square metres of urban space became the stage for upwards of 1,000 programme features. Three years of innovation work was showcased, tested, and explored. New city districts opened up and added striking new landmarks to the Helsingborg skyline.

And even though H22 City Expo was a long-term investment, we can already see how it has developed Helsingborg into a better city. We will be following the results of this incredible journey for many years to come.

Congratulations on stepping in as the new chairman of the municipal board this fall. Even in that short period, it’s evident that your administration has bet on innovation.

Development of a city-wide Internet of Things (IoT) platform will pave the way for connection of sensors across Helsingborg allowing for collection and cross-analysis of a wealth of city data. This will deepen our understanding of everything from energy consumption, travel patterns to smart city management and be a vital tool in Helsingborg’s drive to create an exemplar of sustainability and livability.

Together with our partners we are creating a test bed of innovation that consists of many different aspects, including high-level design for scaling and upgrading the city’s existing GIS platform, design of the electrics for the lighting network, IoT specification and lighting in green areas with consideration for nature and wildlife as well as a R&D phase for developing new networking technology.

This exciting project will create crucial infrastructure for the city and its partners to explore, test and showcase new standards and ideas for change.

How do you intend to continue the policy of developing Helsingborg into a cutting edge place for urban innovation? What can we expect next in that field?

With more than half of Sweden’s municipalities and 51 different countries represented, H22 City Expo served as an arena for driving sustainable development on both the national and international levels.

The international work has also resulted in collaborations with international universities. An example is MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), one of the world’s most innovative universities, whose Senseable City Lab works together with the City of Helsingborg to explore and develop methods to improve safety in our city. The collaboration held a range of exciting workshops during the expo and this joint work will continue until 2024.

And as you may know Helsingborg was runner up in the European Capital of Innovation Awards (iCapital) in 2020, positioning Helsingborg as one of the most innovative cities in Europe. During the first week of H22 City Expo, the finalist cities in the competition were invited to the relaunch of the European Commission’s iCapital Alumni Network, where innovative cities will share best practices and spark innovation across Europe.

The panel discussions and meetings held during the expo were a boost in the network’s future work and established Helsingborg as an important player for European innovation in the coming years.

Helsingborg was also a finalist in the European Green Capital Award 2021, and in April of 2022, Helsingborg was chosen by the EU as one of 112 cities to receive the Commission’s support in achieving the goal of Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities by 2030. This funding will fuel the city’s research and innovation projects in areas such as clean mobility, energy efficiency, and green urban planning.

In 2023 we are also launching two highly anticipated initiatives. These are the Helsingborg Innovation District and the Center for Innovation. Both projects will further strengthen our position as a frontrunner in innovation.

Why is the proposed connection between Helsingborg and Helsingör (Denmark) across the Öresund strait so important? Do you think that itself should and would feature innovative elements?

The fixed link between Helsingborg and Helsingör is a self-evident project. From the Town Hall here in Helsingborg we can see Denmark clearly, it's only 3.5 kilometres away. We should be connected where the Öresund strait is narrowest.

As newly elected chairman of the city council, I am picking up the baton from my predecessor and we recently issued an RFI (Request for information) to explore how the market can solve the construction of a fixed link between Helsingborg and Helsingör. The interest from the business community has been massive. Over 50 representatives from international companies in the construction and financial sectors came to Helsingborg to hear more about the project. The aim is also to get the industry's suggestions for innovative solutions for planning, construction, and financing at an early stage.

In these troubled times, strengthening ties with peaceful neighbors and securing important transport flows is also crucial from an emergency preparedness perspective. A fixed link between Helsingborg and Helsingör creates redundancy and reduces the vulnerability of transport across Öresund. The latter is more important than ever.

Helsingborg will be the stage where the first national touring car championship in the world featuring only electric cars will debut in 2023. What kind of preparations are you doing for that race?

We are extremely pleased to welcome the Swedish Touring Car Championship (STCC) to Helsingborg as they make a historic step towards electric racing cars. This is a prerequisite for being able to hold the race in Helsingborg and something that fits in well with our work on the transition to a climate-smart society.

STCC has previously competed successfully in cities such as Gothenburg and Stockholm and we are extremely motivated to take on the role of hosting the first STCC city race since 2017. We are working closely with STCC to create the best conditions possible.

Author: Vincent Iolov

About Mayor of Europe™