Smart Island

Smart Island Madeira – Case Study

FORWARD-Seminar on Scientific Excellence in Research & Innovation Rethinking ‘Smart’ Islands, October 2021, Funchal, Madeira

In the context of the development of cities, municipalities and regions into smart cities, municipalities and regions, islands are of particular importance. Due to their “ insularity“ and their proximity (islanders know each other, distances are short, etc.), islands are a suitable testing ground for new concepts and projects for the further development of cities and regions.

This case describes a milestone in the process of further development – using Madeira as an example. In the context of the EU-funded project FORWARD, its partners ARDITI and the University of Madeira organized a 2-Day-Seminar on Scientific Excellence in Research & Innovation on Rethinking the current view of ‘Smart’ Islands“. Overall objective of FORWARD is to improve Excellence in Reseach & Innovation, to increase innovation potential and to link rsearch activities with territorial development in the nine so called „outermost regions“ in Europe. The aim is to identify and harness growth potential, future areas of expertise and competitive advantages.

Our concept – here for this 2-Day-Seminar – considers six essential cornerstones for successful development and implementation: 1. clarity of purpose, 2. a strong vision, 3. common understanding, here: „what is meant by smart“, 4. identification of already existing assets, 5. shaping transformation, 6. achieving broad engagement and acceptance.

Day 1: Opening and Presentations of ARDITI, Dr. Rui Caledeira (Präsident), Lucio Quintal about the status quo of the FORWARD project and Paulo Abreu on the planned Digital Innovation Hub (DIH).

Photo: Opening of the 2-Day-Seminar at the University of Madeira. (from left to right) Elsa Fernandes (Vice-Rector, University of Madeira), Norbert Streitz (Scientific Director, Smart Future Initiative), Christine Riedmann-Streitz (Managing Director, MarkenFactory), Rui Caldeira (President, ARDITI).

With his keynote “Rethinking ‘Smart’ Islands Towards Self-Aware and Cooperative Hybrid Islands”, Dr. Dr. Norbert Streitz (Scientific Director, Smart Future Initiative introduced the overall framework and identified the key parameters for Self-Aware, Cooperative, Hybrid Islands. A central part was the critical reflection of what Streitz calls the ‘Smart-Everything Paradigm’, a mainly technology-driven development encountered with smart cars, smart cities, and smart islands. As a counter proposal, he argued for a human-centered design approach for moving beyond ‘smart-only’ cities towards humane, sociable, and cooperative cities, based on the properties of self-aware hybrid cities, and applying the lessons learned from smart cities to smart islands. Smartness is redefined as ‘self-awareness’, i.e., how much the city/island knows about itself and how it communicates collected data and their aggregations to its citizens and the city/island administration.

FORWARD-Seminar_Madeira_Design-Cafe-2021_Christine-Riedmann-Streitz_title-slideDay 2: Transformation & Implementation
Creative Method: Madeira Island Design Café. Topic: Madeira becomes a „Lighthouse of Research & Innovation“.
Concept, Realization, Moderation: Christine Riedmann-Streitz
Participants: Stakeholder from Madeira (University, Research, Government, Companies, Institutions)
Objective: Initiiating and first cornerstones for transformation. Identification of Madeira specific issues and strategies. Development of a Road Map for transformation and implementation with broad accptance.

Every successful transformation requires orientation.
The concept of the Madeira Island Design Café therefore included a target image (vision) and two Madeira-specific frames:
Vision: „Madeira as a Lighthouse for Research & Innovation“ (elaborated on the basis of the FORWARD project).
Frame 1: „Assets of Madeira“ (in line with MarkenFactory’s science-based approach to identify existing strengths and unique selling points and then build on them).
Frame 2: The 17 UN „Sustainability Development Goals“ (which are to be implemented globally on a mandatory basis by 2030).

In the transformation processes to create a smart city, municipality or region – as recent studies show – the major strategic issues are usually left behind. In addition, the focus is placed solely on digitalization. Also for this reason, Riedmann-Streitz started the Madeira Island Design Café with the creative method „Big Talk“, in which the participants first discussed and identified the relevant topics for Madeira. The task was: „Big questions that move us to make Madeira a Lighthouse of Research & Innovation”.

The ‘Big Talk’ resulted in the following four most relevant topics for Madeira:

  • Areas in which Madeira should become a Testbed for a Self-aware Island to foster the successful implementation of new, innovative ideas and approaches.
  • Island-as-a-Service with with key elements for new services that meet the needs of the island and its stakeholders (residents, business, etc.) as well as regulations for necessary design trade-offs. Island-as-a-Service is thought of in terms of a contract between islanders (stakeholders) and island (government), in which both see themselves as cooperating partners (Islanders <=> Cooperative Island Contract).
  • Madeira transforms into a Lighthouse of R&I by exploiting the unique combinations of being a Hybrid Island on the following dimensions: real vs. virtual, sea vs. land, urban vs. rural.
  • Madeira as a pilot-zone in the ocean testing new ideas for environmental issues.

The experts then discussed these 4 topic areas in depth using the „World Café“ creative method. They developed, presented and evaluated concrete recommendations to drive the desired change and achieve the defined goal.

Challenge of implementation: In order to avoid that, as is so often the case with smart city strategies, only what is technically feasible in the short term is implemented with the consequence of a multitude of individual results with little synergy and without broad acceptance, the participants gained relevant implementation knowledge in the interactive lecture „Effective participation“ by Riedmann-Streitz. After all, a vibrant community and a proper economy are only created where changes are accepted by many (diversity), actively supported (identification) and – wherever possible – co-created (commitment).

With the help of the science-based stakeholder participation model (Participatory Design) developed by MarkenFactory, the participants then worked out initial approaches with leverage for implementation.


Packed with background knowledge and applications, Riedmann-Streitz presented relevant insights from innovation management „how-to-start-a-movement“ and from nudging, which gives people better self-control for a desired new behavior. The participants worked out further implementation steps on this basis.

The ideas and projects developed in the Madeira Island Design Café, some of them with lighthouse function, the implementation strategies and nudges were systematically compiled in the „Madeira Road Map for Transformation & Implementation„. The participants will use this Road Map to follow up on the valuable results of the Madeira Island Design Café and continue the work to make Madeira a Lighthouse for Research & Innovation.


Group picture of the participants of the Madeira Island Design Café.

Contact: Christine Riedmann-Streitz,

We thank the University of Madeira for the right to publish.