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2018/2019  KAN-CCBLC1004U  Helsinki-Copenhagen Urban Challenge

English Title
Helsinki-Copenhagen Urban Challenge

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Quarter
Start time of the course First Quarter
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Max. participants 15
Study board
Study Board for BSc and MSc in Business, Language and Culture, MSc
Course coordinator
  • Maria Figueroa - Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
Main academic disciplines
  • Innovation
  • Intercultural studies
  • Statistics and quantitative methods
Teaching methods
  • Face-to-face teaching
Last updated on 21-02-2018

Relevant links

Learning objectives
  • Know and discuss the concept of smart cities and apply the concept and their specific tools in a real case.
  • Identify and critically analyze creative ideas for urban challenges in relation to the pre-selected themes of the course.
  • Evaluate the urban challenge and the business ideas identified, using specific characteristics derived from the literature provided in the course.
  • Reflect on literature about sustainability, city climate action plans, sources of smart innovation and their evaluation.
  • Effectively gather local data in Helsinki and Copenhagen applying the overall knowledge developed in the course in a specific sustainability case.
  • Gain experience in finding, evaluating and applying relevant literature to the specific situation of a stakeholder organization.
  • Analyze and organize a practical project and integrate multidisciplinary viewpoints.
  • Develop and strengthen your creativity, teamwork, project, communication, research, writing, and presentation skills.
Course prerequisites
Please note that this course will take place in Copenhagen and Helsinki.

The Copenhagen-Helsinki Urban Challenge is offered simultaneously by Copenhagen Business School and Aalto University. Students from both universities spend one and half weeks together in Helsinki and one and half weeks in Copenhagen. All students who attend the course are offered a student grant of 275 EURO. The course contents are innovative, practice-oriented and transdisciplinary.

The course will take place in Copenhagen and Helsinki. The dates are:
The dates are:

Copenhagen: August 13th – 21th August, 2018
Helsinki: August 22rd – August 31st , 2018
Application is via MY CBS

Please visit website for further information; www.urbanchallengealliance.com
Prerequisites for registering for the exam (activities during the teaching period)
Number of compulsory activities which must be approved: 2
Compulsory home assignments
Midterm project presentations in Groups.

Final project presentation after the four weeks of exchange to teachers and case company.
Helsinki-Copenhagen Urban Challenge:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Individual exam
Size of written product Max. 15 pages
Assignment type Case based assignment
Duration Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
Grading scale 7-step scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Autumn
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
A new case will be developed for re-exam students.
Description of the exam procedure

Each student must deliver a individually written report reflecting on the process and outcome of their group projects

Course content and structure

The Helsinki-Copenhagen Urban Challenge is offered simultaneously by Copenhagen Business School and Aalto University. Students from both universities spend one and a half weeks together in Helsinki and one and a half weeks in Copenhagen. All students who attend the course are offered a student grant of 275 EURO. The course contents are innovative, practice-oriented and transdisciplinary. Student performance will be assessed according to learning objective specific to their home institutions.


Course Context

The vision of the Helsinki-Copenhagen Smart City Challenge is to create an interdisciplinary, cross-institutional, and cross-cultural learning experience for students, researchers, and practitioners. An increasing number of today’s core innovation approaches to solving urban challenges are defined under the concept of smart cities. A key premise in these innovative approaches is that by collecting and analyzing data and information from the physical environments and inhabitants, it is possible to find solutions toward many sustainability problems and improve people’s everyday lives. Both Copenhagen and Helsinki meet the key requirements for a smart city in a number of ways. There is political vision and willingness to invest and research in smart cities and a strong culture of innovation. Big data is also available for public and private sectors.


Interdisciplinary collaboration is a key issue for smart cities. The Helsinki-Copenhagen Urban Challenge will critically explore the scope and possibilities of the concept on smart cities and the parallels and variety of approaches for how it is being implemented in Helsinki and Copenhagen. It will in particular study the convergence of sector approaches with examples in transport, buildings, energy, street illumination and related smart cities solutions. The course will offer students the opportunity to conduct a comparative examination of cases, stakeholder perspectives, and user and marketing studies with projects targeting private sector partnerships and government opportunities addressing specific sustainability problems in these two cities.


Course description

The course will consist of interactive lectures following a number of interrelated tasks. The overall task will be to make a comparative analysis of the scope and practical ways in which Helsinki and Copenhagen are advancing their goals representing smart cities. Typical areas addressed by local stakeholders with smart city approaches deal with transport, energy and built environment. In practice, this means among other things, building energy use, smart metering, illumination, mobility, parking and accessibility. The students will acquaint themselves with sustainability planning and the administrative context of both cities, and with the role of smart city solutions in the development of new residential areas. The students will engage with a number of interrelated smart city questions intended to develop a critical overview of the multiple interrelations discussing the larger context of smart cities to gain insights into questions like the potential impacts of smart solutions on consumer privacy, and how automatization may impact mobility and urban living more generally.


Course structure

The Helsinki-Copenhagen Urban Challenge proceeds during three weeks, including one and a half weeks of exchange in Copenhagen followed by a similar period in Helsinki. The stay in Helsinki and Copenhagen is structured through lectures, company and site visits, group and field work, and project presentation. With the group work, students work on the specific course task for the duration of the course ending in the production of a group presentation to discuss the case in a smart city analysis light and providing exploration of creative possibilities. This presentation will be due at the end of the three-week period. The groups will consist of cross-institutional teams. Each student will hand in a final individual report due one week after the course.

Description of the teaching methods
Lectures, site visits, group work, field work, project presentations. Up to 15 students from each university (30 in total) will work together throughout the programme in mixed study groups across cultural and disciplinary backgrounds. The stays in Helsinki and Copenhagen are structured through lectures, seminars, site visits, individual study time, group work, and project presentations.

Participants are expected to take part in all planned activities, and help make the summer school a great experience for everyone, both academically and culturally.
Feedback during the teaching period
Supervision is available prior to the final project presentation. Students will receive feedback from case company and teachers on their project presentations.

Student workload
Lectures 60 hours
site visits, group work, field work, project presentations 60 hours
Preparations 50 hours
Written report 40 hours
Further Information

Participants are responsible for their own travel arrangements. However, we do provide a student travelling grant of 275 EURO per student.

Expected literature
  • Albino, V.; U. Berardi; R. M. Dangelico: Smart Cities: Definitions, Dimensions, Performance, and Initiatives. In Journal of Urban Technology, 2015 Vol. 22, No. 1, 3–21.
  • Batty, M.; K.W. Axhausen; F. Giannotti; A. Pozdnoukhov; A. Bazzani; M. Wachowicz; G. Ouzounis; Y. Portugali: Smart cities of the future.  In Eur. Phys. J. Special Topics 214, 481–518 (2012).
  • Creating Municipal ICT Architectures. A reference guide from Smart Cities. http:/​/​www.smartcities.info/​research.
  • Krivý, M.: Towards a critique of cybernetic urbanism: The smart city and the society of control. In Planning Theory (2016, published online).
  • Luque-Ayala, A.; S. Marvin: Developing a critical understanding of smart urbanism? In Urban Studies 2015, Vol. 52(12) 2105–2116.
  • Neirotti, P.; A. De Marco; A. C. Cagliano; G. Mangano; F. Scorrano: Current trends in Smart City initiatives: Some stylised facts. In Cities 38 (2014) 25–36.
  • Niaros, V.: Introducing a Taxonomy of the “Smart City”: Towards a Commons-Oriented Approach? In triple C 14(1): 51-61, 2016.
  • Ruoppila, S.: Establishing a Market-orientated Urban Planning System after State Socialism: The Case of Tallinn. In European Planning Studies Vol. 15, No. 3, April 2007.
  • Saunders T.; P. Baeck: RETHINKING SMART CITIES FROM THE GROUND UP. https:/​/​www.nesta.org.uk/​sites/​default/​files/​rethinking_smart_cities_from_the_ground_up_2015.pdf
  • Shelton, T.: M. Zook; A. Wiig: The ‘actually existing smart city’. In (fortcoming) Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society.
  • Thomas, V.; D. Wang; L. Mullagh; N. Dunn: Where’s Wally? In Search of Citizen Perspectives on the Smart City. Sustainability 2016, 8, 207
  • Townsend, A. M.: MAKING SENSE OF THE NEW URBAN SCIENCE. http:/​/​www.citiesofdata.org/​wp-content/​uploads/​2015/​04/​Making-Sense-of-the-New-Science-of-Cities-FINAL-2015.7.7.pdf.
Last updated on 21-02-2018