Close your eyes and think about the city of Malaga in Spain. You’re transported to another time and place: cobblestone streets, mediterranean architecture, and locals sipping fine wine.

It’s not necessarily the epicenter of hi-tech, and entrepreneurship. But IBM, with its Smarter Cities Challenge, selected Malaga this year as one of 33 cities that could benefit from having a team of experts work hand-in-hand with locals to implement a new strategy to inspire young people to start companies, and facilitate new skills development.

In 2011-2012, IBM’s data scientists, technical architects and engineers were deployed to cities around the globe. These cities had a specific goal in mind, and applied to the program.

Over three years, IBM projects it will send its teams to 100 cities — to fund these projects, the company has set aside $50 million in grant money. This is the final year of the challenge.

Above: In Palisades, New York, IBM’s Stanley Litow (left) names the new recipients of the Smarter Cities Challenge grants.

Image Credit: (Courtesy: Feature Photo)

Alongside Malaga, IBM has worked with officials in Louisville, USA, where they carved out a technology to to identify, predict and mitigate conditions that trigger asthma, and Geraldton, Australia, where the team implemented a strategy for the city to become a leader in smart grid technology.

Part of the mission is to bring an entrepreneurial ethic to cities around the world, but the professional services giant is also looking to stimulate economic and workforce development; urban planning (specifically, a data-driven approach to housing policy); sustainability and solar power.

Today, IBM has selected its cities for 2013. winners were announced at a recent event in Palisades, New York. They include:

  • Belfast, United Kingdom
  • Buffalo, USA
  • Burlington, USA
  • Cape Town, South Africa
  • Chennai, India
  • Christchurch, New Zealand
  • Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Date, Japan
  • Faro, Portugal
  • Foshan, China
  • Fresno, USA
  • Gurgaon, India
  • Jeju, Korea
  • Khon Kaen, Thailand
  • Knoxville, USA
  • Kyoto, Japan
  • Lagos, Nigeria
  • Lodz, Poland
  • Makati City, Philippines
  • Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia
  • Pingtung County, Taiwan
  • Porto Alegre, Brazil
  • Québec City, Canada
  • Reno, USA
  • Richmond, USA
  • Stavanger, Norway
  • Trujillo, Peru
  • Tucson, USA
  • Valparaiso, Chile
  • Vitória, Brazil
  • Waterloo, Canada

IBM claims that it’s a highly competitive process. “This was a difficult decision because so many cities made strong cases to earn our time and talent,” said Stanley S. Litow, IBM vice president of corporate citizenship and corporate affairs in a statement. He explained that the winners were chosen by their willingness to make improvement that will “improve their residents’ quality of life.”

Watch the video of the team’s expertise in Malaga here.

Top image via Shutterstock