With a population of 300,000 Graz is the second-largest city in Austria after Vienna and the capital of the federal state of Styria (Steiermark). The city of Graz has always been an important centre of economy and employment politics in the south-east of the European Union. Since the further geographic expansion of the European Union, Graz has moved into the heart of the alliance of states and has become an important part of the European process of integration. Graz has a long tradition as a student city: its six universities have more than 44,000 students. Its "Old Town" is one of the best-preserved city centres in Central Europe. In 1999, Graz was added to the UNESCO list of World Cultural Heritage Sites, and the site was extended in 2010 by Schloss Eggenberg. Graz became the first European Human Rights City in 2001 and was sole Cultural Capital of Europe for 2003. In 2008, Graz# got the title of a City of Culinary Delights and since 2011 Graz is UNESCO City of Design.
Graz is an important contact point for knowledge-transfer for many of the ‘new' EU member states; many cities profit from the EU-experiences of the Styrian capital city. However, the contacts of Graz do not stop at European borders, but stretch all over the world. Graz was recognised by a high number of local, national and international awards, e.g. the “National Transport Safety Award 2005” and the “International Osmose Award – for New Non-polluting and Energy Efficient Vehicles 2007”,and the CIVITAS City of the Year 2008.
Public bodies and companies are used to having free delivery services and often these are free of charge. At present a certain degree of cooperation between different public institutions in the City of Graz exists as well as in the collaboration with the shopkeepers for finding solutions jointly. By the SMARTSET project the City of Graz aimed at investigating and finding suitable business models that support the issues currently seen in the urban distribution in the city centre.