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October 2016

Interview with Marko Butkovich, head of the near earth service section at ESA

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Where is the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) and what does it do?

ESOC was established in September 1976 in Darmstadt, Germany. Its 3 main roles are:

Mission Operations:

Operation of space segment (satellite) and ground segment (stations, networks, control center, computers)

Execution & Coordination of satellite operations and ground system activities in Europe

Planning and execution of complex satellite operations in all phases:

• scientific missions

• “first of its kind” missions e.g. Rosetta

•  Ground Systems Engineering:

Development of ground systems for satellite operations control centers, ground stations, antennas and software

Ground Segment Technology

ESA unique competence for flight dynamics (operations), space debris and precise navigation

International standards

Space Situational Awareness

There are 800 staff on site of which 250 ESA. In addition, ESOC has numerous outposts e.g. tracking stations.

Was working for ESOC a long-term dream or was it an unexpected opportunity?

When I was a little boy I wanted to become an astronaut and especially in this sense working for ESA was indeed a long-term dream. Obviously it took a lot of effort and quite some time to find a job in the space sector, but it is fair to say that it is very gratifying. In particular, it gave me the great opportunity to work in a truly international environment, making it possible to collaborate with colleagues from many different countries.

What would you say to any Macedonian children aspiring to work for ESOC?

If you are ready to work hard over a long period of time, only the sky is the limit. As long as you keep walking into your dreams you will live your dreams.

What has been your personal highlight of the Rosetta mission?

There have been many of them. One of them for instance was the landing of the probe Philae probe onto the comet’s surface on 12 November 2014. And of course, the “grand finale” of Rosetta on 30 September 2016.

Get in the ring – Proving grounds for the next Macedonian business professionals and entrepreneurs

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On October 19 Macedonia2025 and NCDIEL (National Center for Development of Innovation and Entrepreneurial Learning) organized the “Get in the Ring” business idea pitching competition. The event offered many interesting business ideas at both levels of the competition. The young entrepreneurs at the high-school level showed their entrepreneurial capacity through a number of energetic and rather convincing presentations. It may be usual that young people have an idealistic view about doing business or making a product and contemplate lofty ideas, but this was not the case – for the most part – at the GITR competition. We heard practical products such as the weighted blanket, the modular backpack, the tower that cleans the air, the edible water pouch, the window blinds that absorb heat and insulate, and so on. At the end of the high-school segment, the jury had a hard time deciding between the weighted blanket and the modular backpack and after a close call, the blanket had more entrepreneurial weight and feasibility to it – but that is not to discourage the other candidates, because all of them have what it takes to become future business professionals.

The mentor of the “nano-heat” window blind team, from the Ibrahim Temo high school in Struga, Ms. Irena Stojcevska, said the competition has been an excellent engagement for the students and offered a venue where they can present their ideas in a structured way, to a professional audience that can ask the right questions and make the right comments. Ms. Stojcevska said, such competitions need to take place more frequently so that Republic of Macedonia can nurture a prospective ecosystem for young entrepreneurs.

The competition between year-old startups included business professionals who have been involved in companies, services and products for longer than one year. There were more than few aspects that separated this level of the competition from the other, such as products and services that are ready to compete on the market and the entrepreneurs having concrete outlook towards a more widespread commercialization. Some of the startups offer solutions for the tourism sector, a taxi-hailing app, a smart fruit and vegetable greenhouse, a re-insurance optimization software, a telehealth-care solution and more. The jury that included senior business professionals, representatives of investment funds and company executives engaged the entrepreneurs by asking them all the right and “wrong” questions regarding their business ideas.

The winning team Systems for Enterprise, is made up of young professionals who have in-depth understanding of the insurance industry as well as coding skills that enabled them to put together an attractive solution to insurance providers. Their solution helps the provider to select the highest protection for a certain amount of ceded premium or lowest amount of premium ceded to a certain level of reinsurance protection.

You can visit the web site of the entrepreneurship competition winners at the following link

Macedonia2025 is proud for having provided a venue that helped the entrepreneurs face a jury of senior business professionals and potential investors.

We will continue to encourage young and ambitious entrepreneurs in Macedonia to take part in events that help them push their own limits and “break the ice” in talking to potential investors. These events are also platforms where the entrepreneurs can promote themselves and generate attention to their inventions and ideas. We are looking forward to the next GITR event and in the meantime, we invite entrepreneurs in Macedonia to keep in touch with Macedonia2025 regarding our next events, such as the LEADER Project 2017.

To see the event photos click HERE

Mk2025 Summit Key message: Macedonian entrepreneurs should strive towards an integrated approach supported by technological advancements

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On October 20 and 21, Macedonia2025 realized the fifth Summit and concluded another successful attempt to involve the Macedonian business community in concurrent developments which have significant economic implications for the country. More than 250 guests attended 11 panel discussions presided by 40 speakers from more than 25 countries in the world. The Summit offered a number of contemporary directions in developing the economy through the use of smart technologies and renewable energy sources.

The speakers discussed on topics such as the electronic vehicle revolution, the development of smart cities, connectivity between platforms and the use of natural resources towards reaching sustainable economic development. Experts from Italy, Norway, Poland, Japan and other countries gave details into the best practices that are implemented around the world, which can be put into practice in Macedonia.

The Summit’s keynote speaker, VP of Cognitive Computing at IBM Research, Guruduth Banavar, gave an impressive presentation about the way in which smart systems can analyze and process data which is used in the development of smart cities. Mr. Banavar talked about the example of Rio de Janeiro and cited ways in which people can work to preserve the environment and improve health through the cooperation between humans and machines.

he Republic of Macedonia was presented at the Summit as a place that is developing its potential in the field of digital cooperation with clients around the world and as a place that has the potential for becoming a hub for smart industries. Miso Markovski from the company Apps Run the World, that has a research center in Kumanovo, invited young and promising programmers to venture into the cloud technology and applications. Michael Mizrahi, engineer and director of the technological accelerator AtoBe in Jerusalem, Israel, presented a number of tools and methods that his organization deploys in turning an idea into prototype and potential commercialization. Sheila Campagnano of xTrade Europe, which has an office in Skopje, said that one of the main reasons why her company invested in Macedonia was the people’s skill and ability. The panel on women leadership underscored the role of women being exceptionally important for every country that is striving to reach sustainable development.

Macedonia2025 Chairman Robert Arsov said that the organization is fulfilling an important role in connecting business professionals from around the world. Mr. Arsov said he is hopeful that the business community in the country will become more disposed towards developing the economy in Macedonia through building smart, innovative and attractive products and services. He added: “What we are expecting of business professionals, experts, innovators and entrepreneurs in Macedonia is to think towards advancing the overall picture regarding economic development. At the Summit we generated the ideas and the inspiration so that we can have a clear vision in which direction we can develop and connect the country. It is a fact that Macedonia has been developing, that it has been pushing the boundaries – especially in the IT sphere, and it is a matter of time when we will have a wider integration of smart systems that are going to help us improve the living standard.”

Kosta Barjaba, PhD, Senior Policy Adviser to the Minister of Health of Albania shared his thoughts on the summit:

I would like to express my deep gratefulness for inviting me and Joniada in the Summit and for the great opportunity to speak as a panelist. The Summit was among the best activities I have attended during the last years. What I liked most was that the Summit and all what you at Macedonia 2025 are actually doing is a Diaspora self-engagement, focused on mobilizing both financial and intellectual and human resources. The triangle diaspora intellectuals/entrepreneurs-business sector/corporation in Macedonia-US great management schools will be a powerful engine which will generate and ensure success in preparing the new managerial class for the country. I would love Albania’ Diaspora Summit in November to be as remarkable as your was!”

We would like to thank our staff members, Leaders Club members, Board and Honorary Board as well as our partners and sponsors in helping us implement another unique event.

Stay tuned for more updates on the Summit panel sessions!

Get in the Ring Semifinal competition: Battle between young entrepreneurs from all over Macedonia

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On October 15 Macedonia2025’s Communications Officer Martin Anastasovski and Leaders Club member Borche Ilioski were part of the jury in the semifinal round of the Get in the Ring business idea pitching competition for high school students.

The competition that took place in the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering in Skopje involved sixteen teams from many towns around Macedonia. The drawing resulted in eight matches that produced the teams which have advanced to the final competition on October 19.

It was very refreshing that the competition offered amazing presentations by students from small towns like Berovo, Valandovo, Gevgelija, as well as Strumica, Veles, Prilep, Bitola, Kumanovo and Skopje. Among the competitors there were individuals with excellent entrepreneurial spirit, as well as supporters in the teams who exhibited good sense of finance and sales.

The language of the competition was English and this was yet another very pleasant surprise, as the command of the language among the competitors was excellent. The jury heard interesting ideas about an edible water pouch, a cancer-abating plant, pivoting solar dishes, electricity consumption monitoring system, weighted blanked and many others.

The eight teams that won their match will finish off the competition at the Get in the Ring Macedonia final during the Tehnoma technology fair in Skopje. The high-school finalists will precede one year old startups which will also compete for a number of prizes.

We are looking forward to October 19 and the Get in the Ring final, which will announce the unofficial start of the Macedonia2025 Summit.

The Get in the Ring competition is supported by Macedonia2025 and the National Center for Development of Innovation and Entrepreneurial Learning.

If you want to be part of the finale, we encourage you to apply at the following link

For the first time in Macedonia: Discussion about the European Space Agency’s Near-Earth Program

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This year’s Macedonia2025 Summit is exploring exciting and current topics such as green technologies, renewable energies and smart cities, but it doesn’t stop just there. We have the privilege to present a panel dedicated to space exploration, as presented by Mario Butkovic, who is Head of the Near-Earth Services Section of the European Space Agency in Germany.

Mario is going to deliver a keynote presentation about the vision of the ESA and some of the most exciting missions in space exploration. There is internationally a renewed interest for space exploration thanks to entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and Steve Bezos, whose companies are making significant strides towards launching commercial flights into space.

It will be interesting to hear Mario discuss about the current reaches of the ESA’s technology, based on his expertise in telecommunications, networks and computer for satellite ground segments. These systems represent ground stations which are needed for controlling satellites and other space craft which are not in “deep space”, but rather, closer to the earth. It will be interesting to hear about the development and use of these technologies.

Mario will have a conversation with the panel’s chair, Vlaho Kostov, who is Panasonic’s Research and Development Executive for Central-East Europe and the Mediterranean, based in Germany.

Mihail Mateski,General Manager at Greentech,Serbia and Macedonia, and MK2025 Summit Speaker: The business case of recycling plastics across the region

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It is our pleasure to announce Mihail Mateski as a speaker at the MK2025 Summit. Mr Mateski is General Manager and Partner of Greentech, Serbia and Macedonia. Greentech is a leading recycler of PET packaging and is a member of Green Group which is the largest PET bottle recycler in Eastern Europe. Mr Mateski has extensive experience in packaging waste management, plastic processing, business development, sales, international trading, production management and team leadership. Mr Mateski will speak on the business case of recycling plastics across the region: general industry trends and prospects including plans for regional expansion.
Mr Mateski is the founder of the Serbian Association of Packaging Waste Recyclers, is an active member of the Serbian Solid Waste Association (SESWA), a founder of the Macedonian Solid Waste Association (MASWA), and is former President of the Recycling Council within the Serbian Chamber of Commerce.

Macedonia – a hub for smart industries

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In recent years there has been a positive tendency of development in the Macedonian IT field. Domestic web developers are cooperating on an international level and there are more than just a few foreign companies who have opened offices in Skopje, Bitola, Kumanovo and Tetovo. The question that arises for the sector as a whole is, how further can it be developed and in what ways? We have invited a number of experts who at the business end of this field, who are going to present insights from their experience.

Metodija Papazoski is cofounder and Vice President of EMBS Group in Poland. He is going to be the panel’s chair and stimulate a good discussion between the panelists.

Jacob Fass is a former Israeli diplomat, an international consultant and former CEO and director of several high tech companies. Mr. Fass will give the keynote address on the means and ways of cultivating local talent and capacity.

Sheila Campagnano is the General Director of MTS Trading Solutions in Skopje which is the representative office of Xtrade from Italy. After opening their office less than a year ago, there are impressions and insights to be shared regarding BPO in Macedonia in the area currency and stock trade.

Jared Smith is the Owner of Taskforce BPO which recently opened an office in Bitola. His company which was founded with Macedonian and US partners, provides services to the healthcare sector in North America. Mr. Smith is going to talk about the potentials of this sector and the opportunities that it can provide as it expands.

Miso Markovski is Head of Research at Apps Run the World, USA – a company that provides market research and buyer insights in the $200 billion plus apps industry. Miso will talk about the enterprise cloud and why mobile and web applications indeed run the world.

The panel titled “Macedonia – A hub for smart industries” is going to take place on the second day of the Summit, which is taking place at the Marriott Hotel in Skopje on October 20 and 21. We invite you to attend this world class event – there is still time to register via our website.

Dan Oryan, Israeli Ambassador to Macedonia, Director of the Balkan Countries Region, and speaker at the MK2025 Summit: Youth and development

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It is our pleasure to announce Dan Oryan, Ambassador of the State of Israel to the Republic of Macedonia (non-resident) and Director of the Balkan Countries Region at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a speaker at the MK2025 Summit. Mr Oryan has a distinguished career in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs across a range of positions and countries. He will be speaking on ‘What can Macedonia learn from Israel’s vision in involving Israeli youth for the country’s development?’

In addition to his current positions Mr Oryan has also served as Israeli Vice‑Ambassador to Denmark (2007 to 2012), Head of the Literature Department in the Cultural Affairs Section (2004 to 2007), and as Cultural Attaché in Moscow (1999 to 2004).

Interview with MK2025 Summit speaker Hrvoje Milosevic

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What is a biofuel?

In the early 1970´s there was the start of Biofuels research in the EU for alternative fuels that could give energy security, self-sufficiency and CO2 reduction & proven GHG (Green House Gas) – savings (especially in transport sector). Due to the consecutive oil crises where the EU was strongly dependent on fossil fuels and in order to meet sustainability goals, the EU took an active approach to promote the use of biofuels as a clean alternative fuels

There are many different kinds of Biofuels. In general, Biofuels can be separated according to its state (liquid or gaseous), its feedstock source and also to its technology level.

Find below an example of different Biofuels

BDI – BioEnergy International AG, is an Austrian based engineering company, specialising in the engineering of plants for the processing of renewable resources. The core competence of BDI is the development, engineering and construction of optimised processes for the production of a biodegradable, environmentally friendly reducing CO2 emissions Biofuels for engines (”Biodiesel” and “BioGas”). During the last 20 years, BDI and its researchers have initiated many innovations in the field of biofuels BioDiesel & BioGas production and with the realisation of numerous reference plants worldwide, BDI established a unique position as world-market leader for Multi-Feedstock BioDiesel technology. The BDI Multi-Feedstock technology on the one hand allows the use of crude vegetable oils (e.g. rapeseed oil, soybean oil, palm oil), cooking oil and animal fats as feedstock, and on the other hand achieves highest yield by converting all free fatty acids into BioDiesel. Together with its subsidiary UIC GmbH, BDI is also active in the field of vacuum distillation. UIC GmbH supplies equipment and components for the gentle distillation of liquid mixtures in both rough and fine vacuum. In the Life Science segment, BDI creates with its fully-owned subsidiary BDI – BioLife Science GmbH new standards in the production of valuable algae-based products. This innovation enables the development of processes and equipment of the production and use of algae biomass.

There is tremendous potential for BioGas plants in the creation of added value from biologically degradable waste. An anaerobic process for turning organic waste (example: spent grains from the beer production) into BioGas gives industry new possibilities:

  • 100% green energy to meet own demand (heat & electricity) using BioGas
  • Greater independence from energy prices
  • Reduce their oil / natural gas consumption
  • Savings in CO2 emissions
Can any diesel car use a biodiesel fuel or are special modifications needed?

The utilization of fuels from renewable raw materials is tax exempt if it is used as sole (bio-) fuel at 100% or up to 5-10% Biodiesel blended with fossil diesel fuel. Initially mainly rapeseed and occasionally sunflower oil was tested as feedstock, but last year’s low-cost recycled frying oil UCO and fats are increasingly used successfully. The required product quality is defined by EN 14214 FAME.

In Europe mainly biodiesel blends of up to 7% by volume according to EN 14214 quality standard will be used. Up to this level there is no permission from car manufacturers or modifications for cars necessary. For fuels with biodiesel blends of greater than 7% or for use of B100, permissions of car manufacturers have to be given to keep warranty. When using B100 in cars, preheating equipment in the fuel lines as well as new sealing materials for the fuel system need to be used.

As part of the project “ECODRIVE” in Graz, Used Cooking Oil was collected and transformed into high-quality Biodiesel fuel in a BDI plant. It was used as B100 fuel for public transport in Graz.


Does biofuel have any C02 emissions in its production or use?

Biofuels like biodiesel have CO2 emissions like conventional diesel when burned, but because of its renewable nature of the feedstock’s the majority of these CO2 emissions will be recovered in the growing phase of the feedstock. However, during biofuel production CO2 is also generated (by growing, harvesting, manufacturing, distributing). Nevertheless, the overall CO2 emissions of biofuels are considerably lower compared to its fossil-fuel counterparts. Therefore, the EU has highlighted the CO2 reduction potential from using biodiesel and other types of biofuels compared to using conventional diesel or gasoline. Typical reduction potentials based on the feedstock source can be found in the in the renewable energy directive (2009/28/EG) in Annex V. Especially waste based biofuels like biodiesel originated from UCO/animal fat provide the highest CO2 reduction potentials compared to mineral oil diesel.

Can you see a future where a city like Skopje could generate electricity from biofuel?

The sector of waste recycling is still being developed and will increase with separated waste collection activities. According to the latest data, 73% of collected waste is dumped to landfill, 0% goes to incineration plants and 23% is separate collated and are recyclables (glass, plastic).

We need to follow all actors along the value chain, collection processes, appropriate regulatory framework, to create incentives for waste prevention and recycling, as well the public investments (tendering) in facilities for waste treatment. Recycling and re-use of waste are economically attractive options for public and private investors due to the fees for a collection and market for secondary raw materials, where all actors can see profit.

In the SEE  28% of organic waste material is not being re-used for energy, only one small part is reused which is related to the consumption of animal food (slaughterhouse waste – rendering, brewery waste and sugar production waste). However, in the SEE countries statistics say that 90 million tons of food waste every year is dumped. Much of this is valuable waste, which is suitable for ENERGY generation.

The main strategic issue is that the organic waste input is used for generating biofuels and energy and composting production, as well as the inorganic waste is recycled and reused. Another pillar of the future strategy needs to be complete integration, which depends on initiating the waste management process at homes through separation and following it “step by step” until it is abated in landfills. A fully integrated waste management model starts with the education of households and municipalities on how to differentiate and separate different kinds of waste and is followed by collection, separation, recycling, pre-anaerobic digestion treatment and implementing.

Biogas utilization in the electricity sector is represented in the Republic of Macedonia tentatively and was planned to generate 5 GWh of electricity with the use of anaerobic biogas technologies, in 2013 in the draft of NREAP, but energy statistics today show zero production. Marginally, the Republic of Macedonia report some biofuels deployment in the transport sector and indicate a very small production of biofuels. Therefore, to compensate for market failures, renewable energy needs a set of support measures and regulatory and administrative rules to ensure their proper development in order to reach the 2020 policy objectives. I hope that Skopje will take decisions to move faster in that direction and besides the benefits of further income from selling the renewable energy, cooperation with EU Member States could be beneficial in terms of know-how transfer, jobs creation, increased security of supply and technological innovation. Simplification and streamlining of administrative procedures and grid integration of renewable energy are key aspects in this respect.


BDI recently won an award for its BioCrack technology, can you explain what is unique about Biocrack?

BDI succeeded in qualifying for this award from among more than 300 submissions nationwide with its project “BDI bioCRACK; A globally unique process for generating 2nd generation biofuels” and received the prestigious “VERENA” award.

After years of research and in close cooperation with OMV and the Technical University in Graz BDI has developed an innovative Biomass-to-liquid technology. During the BDI – bioCRACK process, solid Biomass and a high-boiling by-product of mineral oil refineries are converted into diesel fuel with more than 10% biogenic content. This diesel fuel complies with the European diesel-quality standards and can be deployed in diesel engines without any adaptations.

We are very pleased that with our bioCRACK process we have succeeded in developing a simple, cost-efficient BtL-technology which allows reduced greenhouse gas by more than 80%, and which only uses feedstock that does not conflict with the food industry. We have successfully completed the pilot stage and are now looking internationally for a suitable strategic partner for technology application – above all by constructing a demo plant.

Interview on smart mobility with Summit speaker Michal Klocek

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What is ‘smart mobility’?

First of all let me please explain why we call it ‘smart’. Smart is the new and better ‘green’. In the past, many people when thinking about the future shape of transportation or of cities thought ‘green’: ’green mobility’, or ‘green city’. Such statements were indicating that we care about environment. This is very important, but we have to be realistic and think about the investment side of such transformation.

By smart mobility we mean an integrated transportation that is convenient for citizens and city visitors, is reasonably priced for the users, friendly for environment and attractive for someone that makes an investment in such a scheme.


What is the role of Electric Vehicles in smart mobility?

Very important role indeed. Electric vehicles are making less noise (or almost no noise), are easy to drive and what is most important is that they are producing zero emissions, which is crucial for addressing cities’ problems today related to pollution.

The main objection towards electric vehicles is that to produce such car a lot of fossil fuel power has to be used which somewhat mitigates their eco-friendliness. However the main and immediate problem today, is not a total global consumption of energy and CO2 emission, but massive and growing pollution in the cities. Electric vehicles at production stage are producing some pollution, but are 100% zero-emission at usage level. With EVs we can move pollution out of the city.

An easy gain for cities is switching from diesel buses to electric buses. This is not only environmentally-friendly but also producing no noise, which can be a big relief for the citizens.


When will Electric Vehicles become affordable for the average person?

From user experience there are two major limitations from EV side.

1. Driving range – a big limitation, but thanks to massive focus from vendors’ side on increasing batteries capacity we should expect very quick improvements soon. On the market we do have already vehicles that can go for 500 kilometres.

2. High car price – probably biggest challenge in most of the countries.

However, we shall note that car prices do drop over time (especially if we look at the share of average households’ expenses).

Secondly, it is more and more common to change capex to opex. Leasing and fleet management companies are offering more and more attractive deals for car owners to move big investments into pure monthly cost.

Thirdly, we don’t need to own a car. In many cases (for young people and people that don’t need to use a car on daily basis) it might be enough to use a car from car sharing scheme (in the city), car rental (longer trips) as a mix with other means of transport (buses, trams, metro, bikes, taxi) and pure walking. However, if certain households still require a car then at least the options above may substitute for these households’ second car.

What cities around the world are currently using smart mobility?

There are many great examples of smart mobility elements’ implementations.

From smaller towns on a small island e.g. Maui (in Hawaii) that has around 150,000 inhabitants, through cities of approximately 500,000 people (Malaga in Spain, Copenhagen in Denmark or Oslo in Norway), big cities (e.g Munich) to mega cities where it much more challenging to implement well-working and integrated ‘smart’ systems (e.g. Tokyo).

Could smart mobility work for Skopje?

Of course. However Skopje shouldn’t target to implement solutions (products or services) that mega cities have. Also, luckily Skopje doesn’t have such big problems.

The benchmark cities for Skopje size-wise would be Oslo (650,000 inhabitants) or Copenhagen (590,000).

Also, important would be to look at what is most important for the city, given financial and other resources’ limitations. Although I am a huge electric vehicle enthusiast, implementing EVs in Skopje is clearly not the very first problem to be addressed. Smart mobility is a process that should be carefully planned step by step.

What will a smart mobility city look like in 2025?

Smart city in 2025 will be based on three pillars:

1. Multi-modal – we shouldn’t target one mode of perfect transport covering all needs and serving all citizens. Future transport should be a mix of own means of transports (cars, bikes), rented or shared, public transport and walking in a pedestrian-friendly areas.

2. Carbon-free or close to carbon free – gradual switching to EVs and hybrids.

3. Affordable for everyone.