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President Alar Karis visited FinEst Centre to discuss smart city developments

President of Estonia Alar Karis visited FinEst Centre on 13th of February. He got an overview of how we contribute to the creation of more human-friendly and smarter urban environments by testing new technologies. The importance of export and import of smart city research and innovation activities within Europe was also discussed.


"It's smart to listen to what scientists are telling us before we start making major renovations and changes," said President Karis. "It is a pleasure to see that Estonian and Finnish researchers have modeled solutions that can be tested and which will be useful later, not only for the cities of Estonia and Finland, but can also be applied in other parts of the world." 

President Alar Karis TalTechis-31.jpg

According to the head of state, the use of such urban planning tools in small towns will help to avoid mistakes in planning and development on a larger scale in the future.


"Looking to the future, we need to urgently restore and rebuild Ukrainian cities that have been destroyed in Russia's war of aggression. Here, too, the solutions of Estonian and Finnish scientists are useful," said President Karis.

"I am very happy and proud that FinEst Centre, which is an independent organization within TalTech, has gained wider attention with its ambitious goals and special achievements," said TalTech's rector Tiit Land. "Here, we boldly look into the future, keeping in mind the most important customer of science - the human being."

Einari Kisel, Helen Sooväli-Sepping, President Alar Karis and Tiit Land

We gave an overview of our researchers being involved in several cooperation projects of the UN and the most prominent cities in Europe, such as NetZeroCities, where a hundred European cities are being helped to become smartly climate-neutral, and the UNDP Urban Learning Center, where a centre is being established for 300 cities in Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Moldova. Researchers also participates in the fields of cyber security, circular economy and air quality project.

"Bringing the knowledge generated from the European projects to Estonia could also be a focus of the country's regional policy in the future, so that the best practices are adopted for the benefit of our cities and people," suggested Einari Kisel, head of strategy and partnership relations at FinEst Centre. 

In addition, we introduced our large-scale piloting program and their activities that turn various city streets into laboratories both in Estonia and Finland.

"Smart city does not mean only technological solutions. We deliberately chose our approach doing research directly on the streets in order to be problem-based and bring science-based solutions to the urban environment and residents," said Ralf-Martin Soe, director of FinEst Centre.

Six pilot projects will be completed already this summer. We talked about Well-being Score, RESTO, DigiAudit and GreenTwins. 


Delegation of TalTech and FinEst Centre meeting with the President of Estonia Alar Karis. Ralf-Martin Soe, Centre's founding director joined via robot 

Goal with the pilot projects is to develop cutting-edge smart city solutions through experiments and put them into use in different cities in Europe and why not the whole world. Solutions in development have already attracted interest in various cities of the world.


The urban planning Well-being Score solution was recently introduced to Munich, and the use of GreenTwins has been discussed with the state of Michigan from the USA. Export of solutions created in pilot projects is becoming more and more important. Some solutions will grow to spin-offs or licensed companies.


Therefore, cooperation between cities, researchers and entrepreneurs is becoming increasingly important.

We emphasized that smart city enhances the quality of life, tech solutions are means to create a better and more sustainable environment, where well-being has an important role. The goal could be a happy city. No one needs a digital or IoT city - we need a city where people feel good. 

Interestingly, Mr Karis has been a researcher himself, focusing on molecular genetics and developmental biology, and has worked in several universities. Through his speeches and activities it's visible, how he values the collaboration in science, entrepreneurship and other areas.

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