Launch of Major New Global Platform for Innovation in 21st Century Cities

Press Release Geneva,
March 28, 2011

  • The NewCities Foundation brings together leading global players from the private, public, research and non‐profit sectors to work on new models of collaboration to improve life and work in the 21st century city, with a focus on fast‐urbanizing countries in Asia, the Middle East, South America and Africa.
  • Founding Members are GE, Cisco and Ericsson. Wim Elfrink, Executive Vice President and Chief Globalisation Officer of Cisco says “the NewCities Foundation is a unique new venture, bringing together decision‐makers who share a desire to innovate, exchange and make a difference”. Nani Beccalli‐Falco, President and CEO GE Europe and North Asia says, “GE believes the Foundation’s goals align well with GE’s strategy”. Jan Wäreby, Senior Vice President and Head of Group Function Sales and Marketing calls this “a much‐needed new global platform for creative exchanges on 21st century cities.”
  • The NewCities Summit, the Foundation’s flagship conference, will take place in an Asian city in late 2011 or early 2012.

The launch of the NewCities Foundation, a non‐profit independent organization based in Geneva, Switzerland, was announced today. The Foundation is the premier global independent platform for high‐level exchange among the private, public, academic and non‐profit sectors to improve the quality of life and work in new cities of the 21st century.

NewCities develops new models of partnership among high‐level thought leaders in the fields of technology, energy, sustainability, infrastructure, telecoms, transport, finance, architecture, design, public policy and research.

For the first time in our history, the majority of humans now live in cities. Cities in China, India and across Asia, South America, the Middle East and Africa, in particular, are experiencing unprecedented rates of urban growth. Cities worldwide are growing at the rate of two new inhabitants per second. That is equivalent to a city of the size of Salt Lake City, every day.

This major global phenomenon comes with complex challenges on issues such as environmental sustainability, energy, transport and social cohesion. Thanks in part to technological advances, this urban future also presents great opportunities to create more sustainable, dynamic and equitable communities.

NewCities Foundation Members

The Foundation’s membership is open to companies, cities and local governments, leading research institutions and non‐profits who share the vision of NCF. The Foundation is entirely funded by its members.

The Foundation’s first Founding Members are GE, Cisco and Ericsson and members include global leaders such as Orange (France Telecom), GDF Suez, New York University’s Wagner School as well as the Gateway House think‐tank in India.

“Ericsson is very pleased to be a Founding Member of the New Cities Foundation, a much‐needed new global platform for creative exchanges on 21st century cities,” said Jan Wäreby, Senior Vice President and Head of Group Function Sales and Marketing of Ericsson. “The Foundation’s Task Forces and the New Cities Summit are unique ways for Ericsson to work with and learn from a range of new partners, to challenge ourselves to innovate ‐ thereby growing our business in a way that serves our customers and cities worldwide. We look forward to this exciting relationship.”

Ferdinando Beccalli‐Falco, President and CEO GE Europe and North Asia said, “GE is the world’s leading infrastructure company with a committed objective to take on the toughest global challenges. We welcome the formation of NewCities and believe that the Foundation’s goals align well with our strategy to bring finance and innovative technology solutions in mobility, clean energy, water and healthcare to cities and metropolises around the world.”

“The world is going through massive rebalancing of wealth, knowledge and resources as a result of major demographic shifts. Most of the world’s population now live in cities and we at Cisco see these transitions as a tremendous opportunity to transform physical communities to connected communities, using network as a platform, to enable economic, social and environmental sustainability,” said Wim Elfrink, Executive Vice President and Chief Globalisation Officer of Cisco.

He added “NewCities is a unique new venture, bringing together decision‐makers who share a desire to innovate, exchange and make a difference. We are proud to be Founding Members of NewCities and look forward to the first NewCities Summit and to leading an exciting Task Force with the Foundation.”

Gerard Mestrallet, CEO of GDF SUEZ said “The value of a sustainable city is its capacity to adapt and to transform itself over time, to its quality of life, to the efficiency of its buildings, to the fluidity of its networks, to its safety and to the different uses of it’s space. The transformation of urban space will be extensive. GDF SUEZ intends to meet this challenge.”

“The world’s fast‐growing cities of the 21st century represent great challenges for all of us, with a strong need for livability and sustainability,” comments Vivek Badrinath, Senior Vice President of France Telecom Orange and CEO of Orange Business Services. “As a member of the NewCities Foundation, Orange is committed to accompany these challenges and to bring its expertise in new network, IT and communications solutions. This is already what Orange Business Services is bringing to the Middle East, in the new downtown Beirut, the future financial district in Riyadh, in Saudi Arabia, or for The Pearl project in Qatar. Next generation cities are on the horizon and innovative collaboration is essential in bringing them to fruition.”

Ellen Schall, Dean of the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University said, “NYU Wagner and NewCities Foundation share a common belief in the power of collaboration ‐ the need to unite sectors to jointly develop fresh, bold solutions to increasingly complex problems facing cities around the world.”

The NewCities Summit

The Foundation will host the NewCities Summit – the premier global event for high‐level exchange and innovation on the future or urbanization. This invitation‐only forum will bring together the top globally recognized names in this field ‐ CEOs, ministers, mayors, world renowned researchers for a 3‐day content‐rich discussion.

The inaugural Summit is scheduled to take place during the last quarter of 2011 or the first quarter of 2012 in a city in Asia. An announcement will be made shortly in partnership with the host city.

Task Forces: concrete innovation in cities

NewCities has launched a number of Task Forces, each one led by a Founding Member, to explore innovative solutions in pilot cities. These projects will help shape the best urban practices of tomorrow. Each Task Force brings together the Foundation’s diverse membership working in a creative and collaborative process. Current Task Forces are focusing on complex urban challenges such as mobility and transport, intelligent public buildings, waste management and e‐ health. Using a range of multimedia tools, these real‐world applications will be widely shared, among others during the NewCities Summit.