• Innovation Transfer Networks: the search is on for project ideas

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    Partner Search Tool - Innovation Transfer Networks
    19/01/2024

    URBACT’s call for Innovation Transfer Networks is open, and with it, the Partner Search Tool is ready to help cities develop European partnerships.  

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    An image of a a magnifying glass on a notebook, and above this the logo of the URBACT Innovation Transfer Networks.
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    URBACT’s call for Innovation Transfer Networks is open, and with it, the Partner Search Tool is updated and ready to help cities develop European partnerships. 

    Running until 20 March 2024, this call for networks is slightly different from other URBACT calls: the pool of available project ideas is based on Urban Innovative Actions projects carried out between 2016 and  2023 and only those cities can lead the transfer network. This is a unique opportunity to adapt a newly tested innovation to your city. 

    There are currently over 20 topics to choose from, covering urban poverty, migration, housing, security, renewable energy, land and air quality, culture and heritage, demographic change and digital transition. 

    We’ve taken a closer look at the pool of ideas, to help you identify the ones that could interest your city the most.

     

    Energy

     

    Energy poverty is a priority topic in many European cities, particularly as energy prices spiked following Russia’s ongoing war of aggression in Ukraine. Getafe (ES) has developed a new, data-driven model to identify and prevent energy poverty, collaborating across departments to identify hidden poverty. Targeted actions can then be carried out at the level of the individual, building or neighbourhood. Getafe showed that the approach was effective in reducing energy vulnerability. Does this sound like a tool your city could use? 

    Building on the participatory approach to energy transition, Leidel (BE) has put a local energy community in place, to provide affordable, renewable, locally-produced and autonomously managed electricity for citizens. RE/SOURCED builds on the momentum for clean energy across Europe, in line with the Clean Energy for all Europeans package. Its results are highly relevant for other cities putting circularity and citizens and the centre of the energy transition.

     

    Air/soil quality

     

    Cities looking to make advances in the quality of the air or the soil should look at three innovative actions in particular. Baia Mare (RO) proposes a revolutionary approach for reclaiming heavy metal-polluted land using plants and returning the land to the community. An adaptable dynamic platform and toolkit can help you determine the best use for the land. Two Italian cities have developed citizen-centric and data-led models to improve air quality. Ferrara (IT) has set up low-cost sensors and mobile air quality stations to map high emission zones and transform them into urban green forests. Portici (IT) also developed a widespread monitoring system based on citizen science, combined with educational activities and events to promote behavioural change.

     

    Digital tools

     

    Digital tools have been put to use in cities to support policy and decision-making in different domains. Vienna (AT) has developed ICT solutions to set new standards in building applications and planning permissions. The tool can be adapted to other permit processes in cities – making bureaucracy more efficient, more transparent and more cost effective. Heerlen (NL) has created an innovative digital platform to enhance public space, foster community engagement and revitalise local areas. It crowdsources public maintenance tasks, which citizens can carry out in return for credit that can be used in local shops and bars. A digital approach was also taken by Ravenna (IT) for an urban regeneration process in one neighbourhood, Darsena. Combining collaborative data collection, the digital infrastructure supports decision-making, storytelling and promotion. It has shown increased engagement in Darsena’s evolution from an abandoned dockland to an attractive urban ecosystem. The network could focus on adapting both the technological and methodological processes to other cities. 

    Rennes (FR) has taken on the issue of e-government solutions directly, designing a portal for the use and re-use of data while guaranteeing privacy and public service interests. The Reusable Urban Data Interface is 100% open source and ready to scale up to cities seeking to harness local data. 

     

    Jobs & skills

     

    The emphasis on green and digital transitions means that the skill profiles of the workforce in a city must adapt and evolve to these transitions. Eindhoven (NL) faces a paradox that, despite high economic growth, there is a significant shortage of qualified personnel, particularly in low-carbon technology development. The Platform4Work redesigns the employment journey, developing a ‘skills passport’, restructuring educational programmes and bringing employers and jobseekers closer together. Aveiro (PT) positions itself as a territory of digital innovation, but has faced severe shortages of digital skills. The city set up the first Tech City Living Lab to attract and retain talent through STEAM education, training, technology and addressing local challenges. Cuenca (ES) uses its specific location within a forest region to build an innovative bio-economy sector, combining training, research, and the incubation and acceleration of forest-related businesses. The award-winning model can be transferred to other EU cities with a forest or other niche bio-economy sector. 

     

    Culture/heritage

     

    Cities must use all of the resources available to them to improve citizens’ quality of life, whether digital, physical or cultural. In Újbuda (HU), culture and digital platforms were combined to create a bottom-up creative cultural resource management tool to strengthen social cohesion. Alongside the digital sphere, a physical cultural institution was created, integrating local cultural and technological initiatives, bringing together the local community, public and private sectors. Cities can explore low-budget interventions as well as major investments. Chalandri (EL) focused on an ancient monument – in their case, the Hadrian Aqueduct – as a vehicle for urban regeneration and revitalising community life. Using a cross-sectoral approach, it co-creates local projects and cultural events with communities, valorising local history and improving care of water and natural resources. It can be adapted to other cities with different types of local heritage, to build trust and nurture communities. In Tilburg (NL), the city uses culture as an agent for social transformation. Developing a cultural ecosystem in an ethnically mixed and disadvantaged area helps bridge the gap between those in the margins, and the public services they interact with. More than 3 000 young people were reached through 150 projects, with positive effects on health, behaviour and public safety. 

     

    Social inclusion

     

    Many cities are taking innovative and participatory approaches to tackling long-standing issues of social exclusion. Seraing (BE) takes on isolation and community-building through an experimental project to revitalise public spaces in the town centre. An inclusive urban planning process and training of local residents reinvented the spaces, resulting in ongoing civic projects. A more tailored approach was tested in Landshut (DE) to overcome the vicious cycle of single parents unable to work due to lack of childcare. Focusing on healthcare professions, which require long and flexible work hours, the city developed a new form of flexible childcare. Single parents receive training in childcare to look after the children of healthcare workers, in an interconnected building. This represents a novel approach to tackling the shortage of skilled workers in some professions that disproportionately affect women. 

    Verona (IT) is tackling loneliness, brought about by changing demographics and an erosion of family networks. By developing a ‘loneliness index’ and activating community resources in a combined approach, they aim to identify and reduce symptoms of loneliness for increased wellbeing.  

    Brussels (BE) is taking on the affordable housing headache that many citizens face through a co-housing project, developed within the framework of a Community Land Trust. By separating the ownership of the land from the ownership of the housing built on it, speculation is removed, and focus is put on ensuring accessible housing for those often neglected: low-income families, older people, homeless people, and single mothers. 

    Utrecht (NL) is proposing to share its innovative approach to the reception and integration of newcomers in the city, particularly asylum seekers. By revising completely how newcomers are housed, integrated and trained, they create meaningful encounters beyond the labels of ‘refugee’ or ‘local’. The flexibility and focus on the local immediate surroundings of reception centres will enable any city that joins the network to develop their own version which connects their locals and newcomers.  

     

    Urban security

     

    Making urban spaces safer at night is an issue for many European cities. We want to look at two cities offering new approaches to community-based urban security. Piraeus (EL) has developed an holistic model, establishing local collaboration for crime prevention, an online platform to assess physical and cyber threats, and spatial interventions to secure and beautify vulnerable buildings. Turin (IT) focuses on a multi-disciplinary approach to manage public spaces and improve residents’ perception of safety at night. Actions to boost the territorial potential, involving local communities, made neighbourhoods more liveable in the evening. 

     

     

    Which one is for you?

     

    These cities are looking for partners to transfer these practices and concrete innovation outputs. You can use the partner search tool to get in touch with any of the cities to find out more and develop your network together. 

    The Get Involved page has all you need to apply for the URBACT Innovation Transfer Networks!


     

     

     

     

  • How participative metropolitan planning can really work

    France
    Grand Paris Métropolis

    "Let's reinvent the Grand Paris Metropolis" call for projects brings together local stakeholders to design their metropolitan area.

    Séverine ROMME
    Delegate for Cooperation and Innovation
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    6 999 097

    Summary

    In 2016, the Grand Paris Metropolis (FR), in partnership with the government and the public body responsible for building the new automatic Metro, launched the “Let's reinvent the Grand Paris Metropolis” challenge for its municipalities and for the private sector (companies, designers, promoters, investors). 
    The challenge included two phases. First, mayors proposed public land and sites in need of transformation. Following visits to these sites and consultations with locals, private sector companies submitted innovative projects for the sites’ economic, social and environmental transformation. 
    In March 2017, 164 projects out of 420 were successful, focusing on 57 sites, 27 of which are around future Metro stations. These projects are made up of more than 326 innovative startups, associations and SMEs. In total, 6.4 billion euros will be injected by the companies acquiring the sites in the coming years.

    The solutions offered by the good practice

    The implemented solutions have brought together elected representatives and professionals. The sites were proposed by the relevant mayor or territorial president, who presented them to the President of the Grand Paris Metropolis. Where appropriate, the site developer was included in a letter of intent addressed to the Grand Paris president. An advisory elected representative–technician pair has been appointed and a fact sheet has been drawn up with: • Information on the site location; • Its surface area; • Guidelines on the provisional programme and the developer; • Whether they have already been selected; • The type of innovation expected (intermodality, energy efficiency, urban services, digital technology, construction, culture, etc.); • The town planning restrictions. The devised solutions also aimed to cater to new city dweller habits, with shared services proposed in half of the successful projects (co-living, co-working, etc.). The decision to launch a call for projects has revamped the city's production methods by creating public/private partnerships, as the projects are led by professionals who assume the risks in return for land development potential. Given the scale of the experiment, the territorial impact can be measured, as it is led at metropolitan level. Finally, as all metropolitan territories were free to participate in the call for projects, the small towns with limited resources were able to optimise land in the same way as the larger towns.

    Building on the sustainable and integrated approach

    The Let's reinvent the Grand Paris Metropolis call for projects illustrates both the process and the purposes – reinventing the city differently – of the integrated sustainable urban development drive. And while the organisers have given the team substantial freedom in terms of the programming, the economic and social model for their project and the urban or architectural styles, they have nonetheless set out a number of URBACT principles, including: • Involving the projects in the search for an innovative, sustainable, united and intelligent metropolis with a view to sustainable urban development; • Devising projects within an integrated strategy in order to: - boost economic vitality and job opportunities in the metropolis; - respond to residents’ housing and service needs; - set an example in terms of energy and the environment; - contribute to the artistic, cultural and social reach of the metropolis; - suggest new concepts, new locations, new uses and new services with a focus on functional diversity and reversibility; - suggest models to ensure efficiency in the projects and the residents' association. To ensure the integrated approach of the projects, they must be led by groups offering a range of skills, with designers, promoters, developers, investors, companies and even citizen communities or associations, in a bottom-up approach.

    Based on a participatory approach

    As France’s largest metropolis, with a population of seven million inhabitants and an entrepreneurial pull, the Grand Paris Metropolis wanted this call for projects to be an example of co-constructing the metropolitan project. To ensure extensive professional participation in the call for projects, the organisational committee – co-chaired by the Grand Paris Metropolis President and the Regional Prefect for Ile-de-France, responsible for the political management of the process – organised the call-up as early as possible in the process. In October 2016, an event was organised for all potential company candidates in order to present the 59 sites chosen by the organisational committee and invite them to respond to the consultation. Site visits were organised in October and November 2016 alongside national and international communications campaigns. The consulting website went online during the property show in December 2016, coinciding with the start of the official application submission process. A large-scale citizen debate took place in conjunction with the call for projects in order to bring residents together and make this good practice a founding act for the metropolis and a badge of its identity. The winners were chosen by a panel for each site chaired by the President, who had the option to delegate this responsibility to the mayor of the town or territory in question in order to ensure control of the site’s future.

    What difference has it made?

    In terms of impact on the Metropolis (the Grand Paris Metropolis was created in January 2016, see the video), the “Let's reinvent the Metropolis” call for projects has raised its profile and substantially increased its attractiveness among investors, thus enhancing the diversity and quality of projects. In terms of results, 164 company groups were selected from 420 candidates to acquire the 57 sites involved in the call for projects. The innovation goal was well reached as the groups of property and development professionals (architects, promoters and investors) place huge emphasis on urban innovation companies and a strong local presence, with more than 326 innovative start-ups, associations and SMEs. If we consider the method, the 420 applications received proposed exceptional innovative ideas with a view to transforming the Metropolis into a real “sustainable and smart city laboratory”. The “Let's reinvent the Grand Paris Metropolis” consultation has thus established itself as the urban innovation pioneer and Europe's largest smart city consultation process. In terms of governance, the call for projects method, bringing mayors and territorial presidents into contact with teams of professionals to work on the projects, has helped create synergies between towns and territories.

    Why should other European cities use it?

    This good practice may be of interest to other cities as they are all faced with the two-pronged challenge of finding solutions for land development and attracting investors. The success of phase one of “Let's reinvent the Grand Paris Metropolis” is fully in line with the very substance of this consultation: innovation, in all its guises. For the most part, the 420 applications that were received captured this quality, transforming this consultation into a call for projects targeting environmental excellence. Of the key topics, the issue of mobility to simplify metropolitan connections is also relevant to other European cities, with connected mobility, soft mobility and smart parking. A logistics review is another area for consideration, proposed at metropolitan level. The methods of dialogue with residents are also central to this good practice, which aims to integrate them from the very early project planning stages. Indeed, the relevance of the projects is reliant on continual input from the user. An experience exchange with other European counties would only boost the process. Furthermore, involving local elected representatives in the choice of sites and teams strengthens governance at various metropolitan and local levels. The Metropolis does not impose its projects on the communities. Instead, it instigates the process and promotes territories and know-how. The call for projects attracted young agencies, big names in architecture and start-ups.

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  • Shops with a history

    Portugal
    Lisbon

    A municipal programme highlighting shops whose historical and cultural heritage contribute to the city’s identity

    Sofia Pereira
    Project Manager/Programme Coordinator
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    545 245

    Summary

    Throughout history, trade has played a significant role in the birth and development of cities. The city of Lisbon (PT) developed the programme Loja com História, “Shops with a History”, to recognise trade as a distinctive element of the city. The Shops with a History label is awarded to places such as shops, restaurants and cafes that have helped foster the city's identity and play a role in preserving its historical and cultural heritage. The municipality's goal is also to promote local shops, mainly in the historic town centre, as part of Lisbon's rehabilitation strategy for revitalising the city's economic and social fabric. Thanks to a multi-disciplinary team following predefined selection criteria, a first selection of 63 shops, including restaurants and patisseries, were distinguished in July 2016. A further 19 were highlighted in March 2017. A municipal fund has also been created to support the selected stores.

    The solutions offered by the good practice

    The candidate stores are visited and inspected by a multi-disciplinary working group set up for that purpose. This group consists of a mixed team of the municipality and the Faculty of Fine Arts that recommends the shop (or restaurant) which meets most of the criteria to be awarded with the distinction. The distinction is awarded on the basis of the cumulative assessment of various factors such as commercial activity, as well as the existence and preservation of architectural heritage or cultural and historical materials. Afterwards, the working group proposes the distinction, which will be validated by an advisory board and finally confirmed by the mayor or the deputy mayor concerned. The distinguished stores will be listed in a database with the documentary and photographic record that testifies to its current repository as well as the authenticity of its history. Each distinguished store is awarded a plaque with the insignia (Loja com História) to be placed on the façade of its building. With the distinction awarded by the municipality, the stores benefit from greater public visibility, being a stimulus for updating their processes and methods to reach the market. This justifies the creation of a municipal fund as an integral part of the same program. This fund is intended to contribute to the costs carried out by stores in three areas: maintenance or restoration of façades or architectural and decorative elements, business dynamism or cultural initiatives.

    Building on the sustainable and integrated approach

    The Shops with a History programme aims to support and promote the traditional local trade as a symbol of Lisbon, as well as to safeguard the remaining retail stores with unique and differentiating characteristics of commercial activity, and whose history is intertwined with that of the city. The concern with the retail shops (and restaurants) is recognised by the municipality with the reduction or exemption of municipal urban taxes. The City Council is committed to protecting historic shops by combating property speculation and the unrestrained increase of retail rents.

    Based on a participatory approach

    Civic participation has been encouraged by the initial meetings. Starting in February 2015, the City Council began talks with shopkeepers and representative trade and restaurant associations to reverse the commercial crisis situation and maintain business and lifestyle in the city. From these meetings some basic ideas emerged, with the formal start to happen with the probation of the criteria in February 2016 and constitution of a working group to realise the project in May 2016. Furthermore, both the distinction and the fund were subject to their own regulations and submitted to a public consultation, before being ratified by the Municipal Assembly, the deliberative body of the city. All the distinctions were submitted for approval by the Advisory Board. This board is constituted by individual retailers and representative associations of trade and catering, as well as personalities with strong links to the history or the commercial life of the city.

    What difference has it made?

    The act of distinguishing a store is prestigious for commerce, but also for the city and for the owner of the store, which is not usually the shopkeeper. In some cases, having the Shop with a History/Loja com História distinction could help a store avoid eviction, displacement or forced compensation.

    Why should other European cities use it?

    At the national level, the programme has already had repercussions in the country’s second largest city, Porto. Porto has held meetings with Lisbon officials in order to launch a similar initiative, called Porto with Tradition/Porto com Tradição. Furthermore, our project manager is invited to a regional meeting to be held in Algarve, next April, organised by DG Cutura of Algarve/Ministry of Culture under the theme “Shops with a History/Encontro Lojas com História”. It will be an opportunity to present the Lisbon experience. This programme is easily transferable to other European cities, considering that the EU itself intends to improve trade and quality of life in cities, for example through funding under Horizon 2020. For instance, a well-known blogger from Antwerp has already shown interest in publicising these ideas in her city. A meeting was scheduled with the Vice President's office.

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  • A new era

    Cyprus
    Limassol

    Managing a city's sustainable development focusing on economic, environmental, social and cultural revival

    Corallia Zachariou Massoura
    Senior Engineer Limassol Municipality
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    101 000

    Summary

    Limassol (CY) has had new life breathed into it as a result of several major urban regeneration projects to improve the city's historic centre, seafront, and other areas. Over 15 years, the environment and quality of life have been improved and the city's marketability and competitiveness boosted. As a result, new businesses have opened and new jobs created. The regeneration projects have improved the attractiveness and air quality of commercial and residential areas. The local economy has been boosted as the city's new look attracts more visitors. Residents of the city - and the wider metropolitan area - have also benefited. As the city became more attractive, its public places increasingly became meeting places for social activities. The projects have helped preserve the cultural identity of Limassol's historic centre by highlighting its traditional architecture: old buildings have been restored and are now used for cultural, educational and residential purposes.

    The solutions offered by the good practice

    Τoday’s European approach towards cities’ design supports the principle of utilising the existing building and environmental inventory and returning to the centres to deal with the crisis and urban development problems. Initiatives and actions are not confined to the narrow context of physical development and the urban environment but extend to economic and social issues. A sustainable city is characterised by a robust environment, economy and social welfare system. Based on the above, the Area Plan for Limassol City Centre determined the functional structures, permitted land use and pedestrian modules and creation of open spaces, all within an existing and structurally defined area, and all were converted to opportunities for successful sustainable urban development. Among the objectives leading to the exploitation of opportunities were the following: • The completion and modernisation of the basic infrastructure to respond to the enhanced requirements for the safety, health and comfort of citizens; • The creation of areas of special interest characterizing the city; • The implementation of traffic management measures with an emphasis on pedestrian, bicycle and bus transport and the simultaneous discouraging of vehicular traffic; • Exploitation of the urban free spaces/squares and their contribution to the city’s social life by using them as gathering places for events, activities and rest and relaxation; • The identification and promotion of monuments; • A combination of old and new.

    Building on the sustainable and integrated approach

    Limassol’s practice contributes to the sustainable and integrated approach as it applies horizontal integration for interventions that combine physical, economic, social and environmental dimensions and vertical integration in terms of cooperation among all levels of government and local and EU actors. An initial stage of the preparation and adoption of the Strategic Plan for an Integrated Sustainable Urban Development to solve problems like abandoned spaces, city planning, disadvantaged neighbourhoods, urban mobility, culture and heritage, strategic planning and urban renewal was crucial, because it led to a strategic and also to a cooperative and participatory approach. Based on the above, the practice implemented in Limassol changed the city into a more sustainable urban living space as the development was accompanied by measures designed to reduce poverty, social exclusion and environmental problems. This integrated approach brought together social and economic actors to implement physical, economic, social and environmental actions, and the integrated development thus promoted a genuine solution to complex urban problems. The overall city planning strategy was followed and the objectives of the Plan were achieved: the redevelopment, upgrading and sustainable evolution of the centre of Limassol by maintaining its own symbolism and character. The implementation of the Plan contributed to the urban make-up and revival of the city centre.

    Based on a participatory approach

    The Local Authority was financially unable to undertake this huge restructuring intervention consisting of large infrastructure projects, due to its limited budget. State involvement, semi-government organisations and private sector initiatives were essential. Methods such as ΒΟΤ, ΡΡΡ and others proved to be particularly efficient. Additionally, co-financing from the European Union was also crucial, wherever feasible. Specifically, in the projects development and implementation, there was a significant and undisputed participation on the part of: • The Town Planning and Housing Department, for the preparation of the Area Plan for Limassol Centre; • Limassol Municipality, which undertook the responsibility of building the main infrastructure projects in the city centre and on the seafront; • The private sector, which promoted Limassol Marina; • The Cyprus Ports Authority, which was responsible for the regeneration of the old port; • The state, which contributed to the financing of some of the projects; • Building owners, for the restoration of their buildings; • The Archaeological Department, which contributed to the restoration of archaeological buildings and sites; • The Cyprus University of Technology, which undertook the restoration of buildings to accommodate the university faculties; • The bus company, which renewed its fleet; • The Chamber of Commerce and the public, who expressed their opinions on the plans and designs during public presentations.

    What difference has it made?

    A New Era: Limassol flourishes again as a coastal city. The positive results have already materialised as, despite the economic crisis plaguing the country, the centre of the city is one of the very few areas in Cyprus exhibiting growth and development. The reason is that, in addition to the areas of recreation and entertainment that were created for a young population, a large number of residential units have also been developed, attracting many residents to the centre of Limassol – a trend that would have seemed far removed 10 years ago. The active city planning aim of qualitative social improvement and round-the-clock activity in the centre of the city – in essence revitalising it both socially and economically – has been achieved. A number of quality comforts, facilities and installations for public recreation and relaxation included in the projects have made the centre a unique area whose reputation has spread across Cyprus. The local character and colour of Limassol was also conserved and promoted. The city now offers greater hospitality, freshness and an open-hearted atmosphere, which is mainly felt during the warm Mediterranean summer and autumn days and nights. It is relaxing and offers peace of mind. Beyond the social parameters, the city centre has been enhanced through the restoration of old and abandoned buildings, providing a higher standard of built environment.

    Why should other European cities use it?

    We strongly believe that Limassol’s good practice is interesting for other European cities as many of them face similar problems. Limassol’s good practice has achieved the desired results and can be recommended as a model. With the reuse of good practice, other cities will improve their own integrated urban policies and the delivery of these policies on the ground. Limassol’s good practice addresses issues widely faced by cities, offers practical and result-oriented solutions and applies a sustainable and integrated approach to tackling urban challenges. It is a participatory approach in both project development and implementation, involving all relevant stakeholders, is well-documented and has made a visible and measurable difference to the city and in the wider metropolitan area. The practice can easily be adopted and amended by any other European city. Details for comparison and adoption are available concerning the cost and the financing methods. It is a long-term practice that is still operating in Limassol. Our experience is conditional upon certain prerequisites that are valid not only for European coastal cities that are experiencing similar fiscal and climatic conditions to Cyprus but for every European city with a significant cultural background.

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    Is a transfer practice
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    9490