Barking and Dagenham Council has agreed a ground breaking partnership with the Seoul Digital Foundation, South Korea, the Thames Freeport, and Connected Places Catapult to launch a Smart Homes Innovation Hub in Barking and Dagenham, London.
The agreement is seen as the start of a long term relationship to collaboratively develop smart city and smart home technology, promoting sustainable living, connectivity, and urban development.
The new partnership was launched yesterday (7 November) at the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona. It will see a group of innovative businesses from Seoul working in London early in the New Year, initially developing solutions to improve the energy and heating efficiency of existing homes – lowering costly bills and reducing emissions.
There will also be a focus on making homes safer, especially for more vulnerable residents, through the development of health tech that can be deployed in the home and in the community.
The agreement opens up opportunities for UK businesses to export and work in South Korea, creating a new high-tech highway between the UK and South Korea developing solutions for cities globally.
The UK and South Korea have a strong collaborative relationship and trading history, tracing back over 140 years. South Korea is widely regarded as a global leader in smart city technology, with Seoul being awarded World Smart City of the Year in 2022.
Thames Freeport is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to stimulate trade, accelerate energy transition, and transform the lives of people in London and the boroughs to its east. It continues to establish new global partnerships that create new sustainable jobs, drive real-world innovation, and deliver net zero.
Cllr Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council and Thames Freeport board member, said: “This new partnership represents a huge opportunity for Barking and Dagenham and cements our position as a place for innovation on the world stage.
“We’re a council committed to combating the climate emergency, so I’m delighted that through this partnership with the Seoul Digital Foundation we’ll be taking a lead in improving energy efficiency.
But this partnership isn’t just about saving the environment, it’s also about bringing in skilled jobs and high-level investment to Barking and Dagenham, something we’re dedicated to doing.”
Be First, the Council’s regeneration agency, will be supporting this pilot as part of its emerging Regeneration & Inward Investment Strategy, helping showcase the Borough’s enormous opportunity, with a focus on how smart city technology could be deployed to solve some of the big infrastructure challenges of rapid urban growth in the Borough, as well as supporting retrofit.
Martin Whiteley, CEO Thames Freeport, said: “This partnership will stimulate trade and investment, create good value jobs, and accelerate energy transition. It will encourage innovation in the supply chain, create high value jobs and enable wider regeneration in the surrounding areas. The Freeport is excited to be working with the Seoul Digital Foundation, a leader in Smart City and Smart Homes technology”.
Nicola Yates OBE, Chief Executive Officer at Connected Places Catapult said: “Connected Places Catapult is proud to be working alongside Thames Freeport and the Seoul Digital Foundation to support innovators with fresh ideas that can be harnessed to make our cities smarter and more sustainable.
"Through this new collaboration, which will be based in the UK out of the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, we will be driving job creation, the commercialisation of new technologies and business growth. We will also be supporting business opportunities between the UK and South Korea and success for both London and Seoul, as well as cities beyond.”