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What happened within the project after Ghent took its ULG members to the future and back?

17 July 2017

After the ULG meeting last October 2016 with the ULG members of Ghent, where they were taken to the future and back (see this news article), it is time to look into the progress of the City of Ghent.

In the meeting in October, ULG members looked for answers on the main question: “How can we, the economic stakeholders*, share and communicate our information, and our assets?” (* Knowledge institutions, umbrella organisations, companies, and government).

Based on their input, it was decided to focus on 3 subtopics with subgroups within the ULG (including some extra experts that were invited) on:

1. Community platform
2. Open data platform
3. Tool/possibility about VR/AR

Each subgroup met two times between April 28th and May 30th 2017.

These meetings resulted in many insights on these topics and how they can be used within the economic city marketing. But, together with these insights, more questions arose, especially related with the ‘Why’ of the economic city marketing strategy.

This demonstrates a big challenge within communication: No communication can take place without having the content and its goals clear and sound. One can focus on communication tools, but when you really want to make it concrete, it is important to have the strategy and the content clear. For example, one can focus on using V.R. within economic city marketing, but what is the specific need? Why would you like to develop a V.R. tool? Is this to attract potential investors when an employee of the City of Ghent is already in a meeting with them, hence: a tool to support a real-life meeting, or is it an online tool that anyone can access to get more information and data on investing in Ghent? Who is the target group? Investors, but who exactly are these investors? International or national investors? Investors from which industry? Small retail brands look for other information than big biotechnology firms for example. What is the main message? Where will it be used?

These are all questions that can only be answered by the involved department, who works on the content. But knowing that economic policy focuses on 7 different topics (Biotechnology, ICT/Digital economy, Creative economy, Cleantech/circulare economy, Health care, New materials, Retail), it is rather logic that it is difficult for the department to make the decisions on what (and who) to focus first, and what to develop in a later stage.
This is why it was decided to work with an external consultant, to guide the department in the process to find answers on these questions. By the end of September, more insights will be gained, thanks to these consultants. Thus, the story continues.

Municipality of Ghent