IoT driving smart city investment around the world

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Deals activity by geography

The overall value of worldwide deals related to smart cities between the first quarter of 2019 and last quarter of 2020 totalled $17.24bn, representing a 123.48% increase year on year (YoY). This total factors in completed deals in venture financing, acquisition, equity offerings, private equity, debt offering, partnerships and asset transactions.

GlobalData’s tracking of completed deals recorded a total of 151 transactions across the globe over the two years, with 80 and 71 deals having been recorded in 2019 and 2020 respectively, signifying a 11.25% YoY decrease.

Deal activity dropped across all continents, but not necessarily by country. China and the US saw little to no difference in deal activity across the two years. The United Kingdom was the country experiencing the biggest drop, with a 73.33% decrease in completed deals, falling from 15 deals in 2019 to just 4 in 2020.

Data Analysis: IoT Deployment worldwide

Deal typeTotal deal value ($m)Total deal countYOY change (volume)
Asset transaction75028930235%
Equity offering67470621334%
Debt offering363602618144%
Private equity85438580-58%
Venture financing12017538250%

Smart city deals are usually linked to several different sectors. AI and big data are intimately linked, for instance. Most deals recorded by GlobalData were linked to the internet of things (IoT) sector, with 316 completed in 2019 compared to 325 in 2020, totalling a 2.84% jump YoY and a difference of $6.58bn. In 2019, $5.33bn was injected into the sector, a figure that more than doubled to $11.91bn in 2020. The themes of Digitalisation, Big Data and Digital Media dropped in tandem with the lessened deal activity in smart cities, but AI rose by 6.89% with 58 to 62 related deals last year at a two-year total value of $7.14bn.

Using GlobalData’s IoT Deployment Tracker, we are able to see the ways smart city projects utilised IoT in 2019 and 2020. As the below chart shows, 131 of 1349 IoT projects announced in these years were to be deployed for smart city implementation, representing 9.71% of worldwide projects.

90.8% of announced IoT-smart city deployments in both 2019 and 2020 were in the domain of civil infrastructure, with government as the main vertical out of communications, construction, retail, transport, travel, education and utilities. Interestingly, despite North America’s spending power across themes, 48.8% of these announced deployments are Europe-based, with the rest shared across the Americas, Asia-Pacific, the Middle-East and Africa (see figure 2).

Despite its market size, Europe saw a 47.6% drop in announced deployments between both years. There was in fact a 51.1% drop in announced IoT-smart city deployments worldwide, from 88 to 43 in 2019 and 2020 respectively.

All regions dropped in this regard, with Asia-Pacific having the smallest drop (26.3%) compared to Europe and North America, its comparable peers in size and smart investment. North America saw the steepest decline of announcements at 80%.

Note: All numbers as of 23 April 2021. For more insight and data, visit GlobalData's Technology Intelligence Centre.


Deals activity by theme

GlobalData’s tracking of technology industry deals by Themes, as seen above, reveals that the artificial intelligence sector still reigns supreme, despite seeing the number of completed deals decreasing from 7,359 in 2019 to 6,525 in 2020.

Completed deals in the cloud sector only endured a slight drop from 4,004 in 2019 to 3,968 in 2020. Digital media suffered a fall from 3,141 deals recorded in 2019 to 2,973 in 2020. Internet of things (IoT) deals slid down from 3,141 in 2019 to 2,817 in 2020. The number of big data deals jumped ever so slightly from 2,392 deals in 2019 to 2,411 deals in 2020. 

Looking at the total value of deals between 2019 and 2020, it seems as if the IoT sector enjoyed the biggest increase over the 12 month-period. The value of the deals in the sector increased from $134.71bn to $142.95bn between 2019 and 2020. 

Deals value ($m) by theme 20192020
Big Data188,236.80165,929.00
Digital Media121,776.60117,168.10

Note: All numbers as of 12 March 2021. For more insight and data, visit GlobalData's Technology Intelligence Centre.