The Smart Cities, Regions and Communities Export Initiative is one of the most exciting and fast forward initiatives of our time. Why? Well, as our cities, regions and communities keep getting more and more congested, technological advances allow us to build smarter infrastructure and smarter urbanization development. But global trends have shown that as a whole, the world is spending less on infrastructure than is required in order to keep up with growing cities and economic development. Currently, cities around the world have insufficient resources to battle traffic congestion, crimes, climate change effects, delivery systems, etc. U.S. companies can help solve these problems with their products and services.
In July 2016, the Department of Commerce released the Smart Cities, Regions & Communities Export Opportunities Guide with a goal of promoting business and export opportunities for U.S. companies that address urban challenges in sectors such as energy, transportation, telecom, water and health. According to the guide, did you know that “more than 60% of cities that will exist in 2050 have yet to be built?!” These are the types of challenges AND opportunities that U.S. businesses should take advantage of as they look to expand their sales globally, and at the same time, help the global economy as a whole.
Here are three ways you can take advantage of the Smart Cities Export Initiative:
- Access to Capital
Access to funding and financing for smart infrastructure projects is critically important and companies have several options to choose from, whether it’s looking to the private sector for capital or public sector funding from agencies such as the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) or the U.S. Trade and Development Agency as well as other multilateral banks such as the World Bank.
- Trade Promotion
The International Trade Administration provides many trade promotion activities and programs to help businesses find not only the right funding (as mentioned above), but they also provide market research and intelligence, advertising and promotional events, advocacy, market entry and expansion, information and counseling, Gold Key matching services, and overall strategy and planning services. In addition, the guide provides detailed smart city information (i.e., key projects, point of contacts, future events) on each country which has been a valuable tool for businesses that want background knowledge on a country’s smart city situation.
- Industry Sector Knowledge
Finally, there are certain sectors within the smart city initiative that have taken priority and the International Trade Administration’s Industry & Analysis Business Unit has been organized in a way that tackles these sectors head on. For example, the Office of Health and Information Technology handles all aspects related to the Internet of Things (IoT), sensors, communications network equipment, computing and Health IT. The Office of Digital Services handles smart city technology investment and trade, data localization and cybersecurity. Therefore, IF you are a small business that sells these types of products/services to a smart city audience, then it would be a good idea to get in touch with your specific ITA office as they can tailor the resources needed to help you expand globally more quickly and more efficiently.
EXIM currently has programs aimed at solving many of the urbanization challenges such as providing export finance solutions for companies focused on renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. For more information, go to Smart City guide and turn to page 25.