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Keystone Column 68 – New Ideas and the Smart City

By 27th April 2017 No Comments
Smart City Innovation

Welcome to the Keystone Column. This week we look at taxing questions that require new responses, trends in the world of the smart city and a global trend in tackling modern slavery hits France. As usual, we conclude with our weekly list of current Irish public tenders.


News Stories

Taxing questions

This week the USA announced a commitment to move towards a corporate tax level of 15% on business profits. This potentially creates challenges for Ireland and potentially makes it less attractive to base operations overseas in places like Ireland. While it is far from certain that plans like this can make it through the US Congress it highlights a few areas that are of material importance to Ireland:

  • It will move the USA much closer to Ireland’s headline rate (12.5%) for taxing corporate profits and reduce the incentive to engage in pejorative cat calling around what constitutes (or does not constitute) a tax haven;
  • It will shift the point of focus onto effective rates of taxation which is very much to Ireland’s benefit as there is very little seepage between Ireland’s headline rate and the amount collected from profits booked in Ireland by companies; and
  • It highlights the precarious position Ireland continues to occupy as it maintains a dominant focus on FDI over domestic entrepreneurship through government supports and the tax regime.

While it’s not all bad news by any means, Ireland needs to dust off the playbook and start coming up with some new tactics.

New Duty of Care law in France points to a possible future EU requirement

We have covered ethics in procurement extensively, especially the thorny issue of full responsibility for supply chains on the part of buyers and suppliers. British PM, Theresa May, to her credit, passed a Modern Slavery Act while Home Secretary that was ground-breaking in nature. Now, France has followed suit. This week, a duty of care law has been passed in France addressing similar issues.

The effect of the law (which has been passed by their constitutional council) is to require all firms with more than 5,000 employees to draw up vigilance plans ensuring that there controls in place to prevent modern slavery and the abuse of human rights in their operations. The law goes further in this regard than the UK or regional administrations like the State of California as French firms will be required to have concrete plans in place to manage this (rather than a duty to report what they do / do not do). As we predicted over 18 months ago, this is becoming a global trend and it is highly likely that the EU will adopt these principles across the union. While it is welcome to see the emphasis being placed on large firms in the first instance, it is likely that each country will have to determine the level such standards apply at in their own country.


Interesting trends

Denmark is in the vanguard of planning how a world of over 9 billion people will be able to feed itself. Since 2009, Denmark’s agricultural research and development park outside Aarhus (a smart city), the country’s second city, has hosted hundreds of companies that are focused on addressing this challenge.

Over the next 30 years, the park plans to build an additional three million square feet for hundreds more companies and thousands more workers, with the goal of becoming a self-proclaimed “Silicon Valley for agriculture.” Denmark may be one of the best places for this ambitious project, with the country already growing enough food to feed a population six times its size, often via eco-friendly practices.

Growth at the park is already underway: Arla Foods, Scandinavia’s largest dairy manufacturer, will bring its innovation centre later this year, and Aarhus University’s Department of Food Science will install itself as early as 2018. They already host delegations from all over the world and are in plans to bring many scaled up versions of their ideas to China.



Solutions sought to urban challenges as Dublin seeks to become a Smart City

Dublin City has launched a venture with a global consultancy to find smart city solutions to problems faced by urban dwellers. The initiative is also being supported by Enterprise Ireland and was launched this week. Dublin has dabbled with smart city experiments, without any great success in the past so it will be interesting to see how this latest initiative fares. The well-known Citymart have tried and failed to do much in the way of smart city concept development in Ireland. Our view is that executive mayors are essential politically to driving initiatives like this. Citymart’s successes (and they are extensive, inspiring and varied) tend to come where this is the case.

The article states that it will be an open competition for ideas. If this is the case, it’s a missed opportunity to test the innovation partnership process (not be confused with a process with the same name used as part of the Horizon 2020 programme). We have written extensively about smart city solutions on this site. Problems they are looking for solutions to include managing flooding risk and illegal dumping. It’s a start but a disappointingly narrow canvas to commence with.

There is up to €600k in funding available to solve these problems – which is welcome. Our only question is why we are using innovation procurement processes from the 2004 directives instead of the more flexible innovation partnership process introduced here last year – it was designed for this precise purpose?


New public procurement tenders this week 

Visit the Keystone website to view our take on the 500+ active public procurement opportunities with more than five days until their deadline. There are a vast range of services, supplies and construction related to public procurement opportunities in the following sectors (there are many more sectors than the sample list below):

  • Construction and related trades,
  • Professional & Advisory Services,
  • PR, Media, Advertising and related,
  • ICT supplies and services,
  • Training,
  • Property & facilities management,
  • Vehicle & automotive,
  • Catering and related services,
  • Cleaning and related services,
  • Waste Management,
  • Maintenance and related services,
  • Horticultural supplies & services,
  • Research & environmental monitoring,
  • Printing, office supplies and related services,
  • Trades,
  • Medical and scientific research, supplies and services,
  • A vast range of other services and supplies.

Businesses interested in any of these strategic procurement opportunities that are unsure of how they can follow-up on these tenders can contact Keystone at any stage. We would be happy to discuss your needs and where they may fit with your business growth plans. These public procurement opportunities are sources of business growth and innovation for companies across the country.

Please note, e-tenders often has public procurement opportunities incorrectly categorised so people relying on e-tender alerts could easily miss out on opportunities if they are dependent on it. E-tenders is only as reliable as the people inputting tenders and mistakes are made very frequently. The Keystone Column includes all live tenders posted on e-tenders that have five or more days until their deadline as at April 27th 2017.


Note: the image above was developed by visionary architect Vincent Callebaut and projects an image of Paris in 2050. We believe this is meant to be from above the place de Notre Dame de Paris looking south towards St Michel and Luxembourg gardens. It envisages green skyscrapers as vertical lungs, kitchen gardens and much more besides. His visionary series can be viewed here