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The Partnership between the OU and City Council Puts City Innovation in the spotlight

Digital Development Services, Wednesday 20 Mar 2024

Milton Keynes City Council and The Open University are collaborating once again on the MK:Smart initiative, aiming to strengthen Milton Keynes’ position as a leading smart city globally. Led by the OU’s Knowledge Media Institute , MK:Smart involved over 20 organizations, focusing on technology trials to enhance city living standards, particularly in sustainable transport, energy, and water usage. MK:Smart pioneered initiatives such as the UK’s first driverless car trial and laid the groundwork for innovations like robotic infrastructure.

Funded in part by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, MK:Smart concluded officially in 2017 but left a legacy of ongoing high-tech research endeavors in Milton Keynes. Recent projects include trials of self-driving shuttles and delivery drones, as well as the establishment of a dedicated 5G network for research purposes.

The partners are reigniting MK:Smart to emphasize Milton Keynes as an ideal location for conducting experimental tests and trials. A new MK:Smart website, located at www.mksmart.org, serves as a hub for smart city information in Milton Keynes, building upon the original project’s legacy.

The OU has introduced the Challenge Us! competition, inviting businesses and charities to propose societal challenges for OU academics worldwide to address. These challenges encompass three themes: Sustainability, Living Well, and Tackling Inequalities. The competition deadline is May 15th, encouraging collaborative problem-solving to further enhance city innovation.

Cabinet Member for Innovation, Cllr Shanika Mahendran said:

“Over the last ten years Milton Keynes has welcomed academics, city leaders and businesses from around the world as they seek new solutions for green and modern cities. We rightly have an incredible international reputation as the home of innovation and as a place that enables large scale trials. MK:Smart was the catalyst for some of this ground-breaking work and we’re delighted to revive our partnership with the OU and find new projects that keep us at the forefront of innovation.”

Professor Enrico Motta from The Open University’s Knowledge Media Institute said:

“The highly successful MK:Smart initiative demonstrated that excellent results can be achieved when academia, business and government come together to foster innovation and promote economic growth. Ten years after the launch of the original MK:Smart project, it is exciting to see the OU and MK City Council renewing their partnership to progress the Smart City agenda in Milton Keynes and contribute to tackling major societal challenges. I am very much looking forward to the next developments in this collaboration.”

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