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The Smart City Sustainability Conference with HBBA: What You Missed


When you walk through Eaton Place in London the place is full of luxury cars, exclusive properties, and a host of embassies. It should be no surprise that two Bonds, Sean Connery and Roger Moore both resided nearby. There are plenty of Aston Martins parked around the place to make you think there might be 007s there still.

But it wasn’t the need to see James Bond that led our editorial team to the Hungarian Embassy on the 28th of May. Instead it was the 2nd London Business Trip. Smart City, Sustainability Conference hosted by Hungarian Ambassador Ferenc Kumin, Judit Czako, Hungarian Investment and Trade Attaché, and Susanna Toth Lee, the CEO of the Hungarian British Business Alliance or HBBA.

Who are the People behind the Hungarian British Business Alliance?

The idea of a Hungarian British networking business group is not unique. In fact, in Hungary there exists a British Chamber of Commerce or BCCH. Founded in 1991 by British investors the organization is an independent non-profit organisation providing events, membership and support. The BCCH predominantly helps companies located in Hungary. Meaning that there was a clear need for an organisation to be based in the United Kingdom.

Cometh the hour, cometh the woman, Susanna Toth Lee has lived in the United Kingdom for many years. She realised there was a need for something like the BCCH in the UK too and the Hungarian British Business Alliance came about.  

There have been many events since the HBBA was created in 2022. Some of them take place in the Hungary House, next to London’s Trafalgar Square. Others in Canary Wharf, some in the Hungarian Embassy. There are other locations including some of the most prestigious venues in London. The location is very important, as many members of the Institute of Directors (IoD) and London Chamber of Commerce (LCCI) attend HBBA events regularly.

Why were Smart Cities the Focus at the latest HBBA event?

London is at the forefront of many smart city rankings. It competes with smart cities which include Singapore, Copenhagen, Zurich, Dubai, Oslo and many others. But what is it that defines a smart city? IBM suggest that “a smart city is an urban area where technology and data collection help improve quality of life as well as the sustainability and efficiency of city operations. Smart city technologies used by local governments include information and communication technologies (ICT) and the Internet of Things (IoT)”.

When it comes to London’s role as a leader in all thing’s smart city, delegates were introduced to some of the initiatives that the city has implemented over the years. The introduction of the London Congestion Charge in 2003 is one of the pivotal moments that put London on the ‘smart city’ map. Another one is the more recent introduction of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ). Both had a fair amount of controversy surrounding their introduction. Who better to open the Conference than Marion Geoffrey, Managing Director at Wizz Air UK. Wizz Air is a Hungarian company that carried more passengers in 2023 than British Airways. And that isn’t the only place where Wizz Air eclipses British Airways. Marion took great pride in explaining how the average age of Wizz Air’s fleet is less than five years. The firm also prides itself on having the lowest CO2 footprint among other major competitors.

Panels, Pitches and More

Hot on the heels of Marion’s eloquent presentation was a panel to discuss the challenges and opportunities in technology and research collaborations. Nicola Penfold represented Innovate UK on the panel, whilst Zackria Choudhry, of Ecowelle, and Professor Issa Chaer of London South Bank University joined her.

Then it was time for the first of three rapid company introductions, or pitches. Each one lasted less than 2 minutes. Interestingly, the pitches flipped from Hungarian to British companies and then back. This was due to a Hungarian delegation of entrepreneurs and startup founders being present at the conference.

Companies pitching included Asura, Elektro-Kamleithner Kft, Fortuna FX, Loginet Systems, Moneywiser Academy, Neocon, OneCard, Fortera, BlueSpot, Liie Immigration, Cre8ion, Custowner, Scademy, LP Shipping Ltd, Synerinsoft, V-Hid, Wonkysheep and more. Both English and Hungarian entrepreneurs took the stage one by one adding to the depth of content. Many of the Hungarian companies specialize in tech and even artificial intelligence.

David Randall, Founder of Crytalisr was next on stage. He spoke to the attendees about the business environment in the United Kingdom and international trade in 2024.

Mark Jenkinson, Founder of Crystal Associates and Chair of ESGG Committee, London Chamber (LCCI), then gave the delegates a through overview about whether ‘your city is smart’.

Ian Saunders, Founder and CEO of InveSTABLE Group was next. Ian had spent many years working in various parts of the world including Africa and had a dearth of knowledge to share about his experiences.

Tamas Farkas, Vice President at Asura Technologies spoke about smart city video analytics that his firm has already implemented across several customers. His presentation highlighted how relevant and well thought out the whole conference had been. Hearing about a Hungarian company which has already won numerous projects related to traffic and vehicle surveillance was a great way to wind down the day.

Finally, Peter Wilcock, Non-executive Chairman at HBBA, wrapped up the conference by discussing how to get the camel in the tent. Dr. Lilla Bartuszek of Sustainable Cities, Szabolcs Benkoczy of Adaptive Recognition and Falguni Desai of Favent Consultants were the panellists who joined Peter in exploring how best to approach market entry into the United Kingdom. And how best to unravel his camel conundrum.

Of course, during all the excitement there was also a fabulous breakfast and lunch provided by the Ambassador and his colleagues. There was no shortage of refreshments and the Embassy felt like a real business venue. A collaboration between the Hungarian Embassy, HEPA, and HBBA which provides business leaders from across Europe the opportunity to meet, exchange views, learn and grow together. Not just those looking out for the next James Bond.

Members of the Hungarian British Business Alliance at the Hungarian Embassy attending the Smart City Conference this May

Author: Andy Samu

#HBBA #SmartCities #HungarianEmbassy #HEPA #Technology #Pitches #Entrepreneurs #RoadShow #Sustainability

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