Smart City’s Intangible Assets…

Michael D. Moberly   November 3, 2009

Of the many take-aways I consistently receive from Smart Cities’ Radio program hosted by Carol Coletta (CEO’s For Cities) are the not so subtle references to city’s ‘missed opportunities’ which, in many instances, represent intangible assets, i.e., overlooked, neglected opportunities (intangibles) embedded in many city’s rich historical, cultural, architectural, and/or epicurean past. 

Many city’s intangible assets, which Coletta routinely eludes to in her weekly radio program, have the potential for being re-conceived, re-captured, re-invested, and ultimately re-branded to add, produce, and deliver value to a city or even a particular neighborhood.  Intangible assets can be the impetus for producing genuine value not only to city’s, but company’s as well.  In most instances, this will only occur when management teams – decision makers genuinely understand, recognize, and set viable strategies to effectively and efficiently utilize their intangible assets. This entails, among other things, identifying them, unraveling them, investing in them, positioning them, leveraging them, managing them, and putting best practices in place to sustain their control, use, and ownership, along with monitoring their value and materiality.

All that said, there are commonalities and analogies to be drawn to city’s, investors, university R&D, health care institutions, and start-up/early stage companies coming together, usually under a larger ‘governance, investment, and motivational umbrella’ to form bio-tech communities, or so-called cooridors, which typically link government, university, and private sector institutions and facilities in variously collaborative arrangements. 

Commencing those well intended endeavors though should include strategies to address – focus on the foundational underpinnings necessary for (project) sustainability.  In today’s extraordinarily competitive, predatorial, global, and winner-take-all business transaction environments, ‘sustainability’ does not lie solely in patents and other intellectual property centric practices and strategies that tend to frame the commercialability of project R&D in very vertical contexts that may not always attend to these types of ‘community’ projects’ long term sustainability.  That is, it is in a city’s interest, that projects of this nature build – deliver value not solely for the investors, which they are rightfully due, but also, deliver real, long term strategic value in the form of multipliers and spillovers that spread throughout a community in the form of tangible, but most importantly, intangible assets.  


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