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Cisco and Schneider to invest €37 million in smart city innovation centres located in a Barcelonan old factory

An old factory in the 22@ technological and business district of Barcelona, named Ca l'Alier, will be transformed into an innovation centre focused on Smart Cities. The French multinational Schneider Electric and the American networking giant Cisco Systems will invest €6 million in the building's renovation in order to set up their new research centres. The two companies then plan to invest a total of €37 million in the centres over the next 5 years. Barcelona´s City Council will also occupy a part of the renovated building for offices for its new Institute of Technology for the Habitat (BIT Habitat). The renovation of the Ca l'Alier factory will be the first step towards the creation of the Smart City Campus, which will be located throughout the 22@ technological district, a developing business area in Barcelona located around the old Poblenou industrial neighbourhood. The new Ca l'Alier research centres are expected to open in the summer of 2016 and to create 160 jobs.

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23 July 2014 05:50 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN.) – An old factory in the 22@ technological and business district of Barcelona, named Ca l'Alier, will be transformed into an innovation centre focusing on Smart Cities. The French multinational Schneider Electric and the American networking giant Cisco Systems will invest €6 million in the building's renovation in order to set up their new research centres. The two companies then plan to invest a total of €37 million in the centres over the course of the next 5 years. Barcelona´s City Council will also occupy a part of the renovated building for offices for its new Institute of Technology for the Habitat (BIT Habitat). The new research centres are expected to open in the summer of 2016 and to create 160 jobs. The renovation of the Ca l'Alier factory will be the first step towards the creation of the Smart City Campus, a space in which Barcelona City Council hopes to attract companies, universities, entrepreneurs and research centres associated with ICT, ecology and urban-planning. This will be located in the 22@ technological district, a developing business area in Barcelona´s formerly industrial neighbourhood of Poblenou, known as the Catalan Manchester. According to the City Council, companies such as Suez, Philips and Telefónica are already on board.


The 6 million euros that it will cost to renovate Ca l'Alier will be covered by the two multinational companies who will then rent the space from Barcelona City Council. Cisco Systems will establish a Centre for Innovation and Demonstration, which will be linked to the company´s project 'The Internet of Everything', as well as research into Smart Cities,namely cities which combine digital technology and intelligent design to create economically successful, sustainable towns to live and work. Cisco will sign a 15-year lease on the building and assume €5.6 million of the remodelling cost. Meanwhile, Schneider Electric will donate €726,000 towards the renovation works as well as covering the cost of setting up solutions for an efficient energy management of the building, an estimated €600,000. The French company plans to establish a Centre of Excellence in Smart Cities in Ca l'Alier for a minimum of 9 years.

The two companies have also announced that they will invest a further €37 million in the project over the course of the next five years, €22 million from Cisco Systems and €15 million from Schneider Electric.

The Smart City Campus

In addition to the research and innovation centres of both of the multinational companies, as well as the BIT Habitat offices, Ca l'Alier will have a reserved space for technology start-ups that are not yet defined. This is the first part of the wider initiative of the Smart City Campus, a space in which Barcelona City Council hopes to attract companies, universities, entrepreneurs and research centres associated with ICT, ecology and urban-planning.

Barcelona's Deputy Mayor for Urban Habitat, Antoni Vives, has stated that the Smart City Campus will collaborate with companies such as the technology giant, Philips, the electric utility company, GDF Suez Cofely or the Spanish broadband and telecommunications provider, Telefónica.

22@ business district, an international technological hub

Cisco's Senior Vice President for Latin America, Jordi Botifoll, and Schneider Electric's Executive Vice President for Operations, Julio Rodriquez, justified their choice of Barcelona as the location for their new innovation centres for the city´s "leadership" and "world guidance" which it has demonstrated through such a "unique" project as 22@.

22@ is a project which was approved by Barcelona City Council in 2000 and aims to transform two hundred hectares of Poblenou's former industrial land, formally known as the ´Catalan Manchester´ for its 19th century industrial buildings and brick factories, into an innovative district offering modern spaces for "knowledge-based activities". The 22@ model is already being applied to other areas of Barcelona, as well as in cities abroad, and has been described as a benchmark in urban, economic and social transformation by both experts in town planning and in information society economy.

Part of the "revolution of the 21st Century"

The City Council plans to launch the administrative procedure to start construction on Ca l'Alier this September, so that renovation works can begin in early 2015. According to the plans, the renovation will be completed between spring and summer of 2016. When presenting the project in the building of Ca l'Alier, the Mayor of Barcelona, Xavier Trias, stated that the initiative was part of the "revolution of the 21st century" in which new technology can be used to meet "the needs of the people".

The Mayor also stressed that a project such as this represents "the transformation of the city" to make it more sustainable and accessible for its citizens. He went on to justify public-private cooperation as an essential way to "generate the economic activity" needed for social welfare.

In addition to the renovation of the building, which, according to Trias, is in a "disastrous" state, Ca l'Alier will be remodelled along more self-sufficient and environmentally friendly lines, and the necessary energy resources will be generated through solar and wind technology.

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  • Part of the old Ca l'Alier factory, in Barcelona's 22@ technological and business disctrict (by J. Eloy)

  • Part of the old Ca l'Alier factory, in Barcelona's 22@ technological and business disctrict (by J. Eloy)