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

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    Partner Search Tool - Innovation Transfer Networks

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

    An image of a a magnifying glass on a notebook, and above this the logo of the URBACT Innovation Transfer Networks.
    From urbact

    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 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. 




    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!





  • From empty housing to social inclusion

    Vilafranca del Penedes

    25 years of housing rehabilitation for social purposes

    Carme Ribes Porta
    Head of Department International Relations
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    39 365


    In the context of high poverty, exclusion and the increasing number of empty housing units, accentuated by the crisis, the Vilafranca (ES) Inclusion programme deals with the renovation and rehabilitation of vacant housing while reusing them for social purposes. 
    Bringing together the municipality, social actors, NGOs and house owners, the programme is built on a multiannual approach. It uses the renovation process for occupational training and boosting employment among the people risking social exclusion or long-time poverty. 
    So far, more than 250 houses have been renovated and offered on preferential lease to poor or homeless families, and 500 persons have gained professional skills through the training programmes. The Vilafranca Inclusion practice has already been recognised by Un Habitat Europe and the Pi i Sunyer Foundation. 

    The solutions offered by the good practice

    Rehabilitate vacant homes and reuse them with a social purpose • Use the process of rehabilitation for occupational training and boosting employment of unemployed. • Provide homes to families and / or people with a low income and on a situation of emergency residential risk. • Improve housing park standards: prevent the progressive deterioration of buildings and parts of the city. • Reduction of empty housing. • Using housing as a tool for socio-educational work. • Promote employability.

    Building on the sustainable and integrated approach

     Vilafranca Inclusion exemplifies the three pillars of the URBACT principles: Horizontal integration: incorporates the cross-work of various municipal services for the analysis and implementation in different phases. Carried out in the period 2013/2015, it has a direct relation to the tasks performed at the C.R.I.T. (Resource Centre for Inclusion and Employment) aimed at people at risk of exclusion. It deals with the subjects of: urban planning, improving degraded areas of the city; environmental, upgrading homes to optimal levels of energy efficiency; new economies creation, area of housing rehabilitation, specialized training; promotion of cooperative economics, etc. Vertical integration: its development involves promoters and beneficiaries. There are three lines of work in parallel: A) Urban Planning: properties to be rehabilitated are evaluated, designed and valued. Also, private foundations, the Town Hall itself and financial institutions can provide housing to be included in the rehabilitation programme. B) Social Services: selection of participants and the design of the employment plans. C) Training and Employment: training options. From there begins the execution phase of the work, and training of participants is done through a company (cooperative) of social integration. Territorial integration: rehabilitating housing in degraded areas helps the greater integration of the whole town, reducing the risk of having marginal areas.

    Based on a participatory approach

    Among those involved has woven a network of co-operation. Whilst Caritas supports the training of the participants in the project, the insertion cooperative insert Nou Set does the contracts. Moreover, the Town Hall, through C.R.I.T. manages the program, partly funded by the Diputació de Barcelona. The partnership also extends to the active participation of property owners and end users. Apart from the three lines of action involved in the project (Social Services, Town Planning, and Training and Employment) parallel tasks of development are established.

    What difference has it made?

    The impact of Vilafranca Inclusion is multiple and has benefited its citizenship as a result of the change that occurred in the mechanics of the programme from 2012, when - as a result of the economic crisis - rehabilitation and social integration were put at the same level as axes. Since its implementation in 1992, it has allowed the family core to have a regular income, it has standardised the employment status of participating workers, has allowed us to train them in professional skills, and also, significantly, it has equipped them with the capacity to be able to find a job in the present circumstances of the labour market. Otherwise, participation has been opened to members of the family who are unemployed. The profile of participants and attended has changed in line with social changes experienced in the types of families: for example, in 2015, 84 families were assisted (a total of 243 people), of which 49% were single-parent families and 42% of users were under 16 years of age. 250 dwellings have been rehabilitated, of which the Town Hall still manages 90 through Social Housing. The rest - leased to the town council - have already been returned to their owners. • People trained: approximately 500 (data from 1992) • Families inserted: 50 since 2013.

    Why should other European cities use it?

    From its beginnings in 1992, the practice has been adapted to the current social context, characterised by the strong economic crisis that has forced many municipalities to adapt expenditures allocated to social issues. Vilafranca implemented "Vilafranca Inclusion" aiming to rehabilitate and reuse dwellings for social purposes. The 2012 programme is reoriented and focused on the social and labour inclusion of unemployed people and families at risk of exclusion. The impact of the practice is satisfactory and strengthens their impact on policy and management of the municipality. We believe that this course of action can be useful and interesting for any European city facing these issues.

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  • #genera_azioni - Community building prevents poverty


    Tackling economic crisis in rural areas with relationship building and community-based model of welfare.

    Gianpietro Pezzoli
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    23 339


    #genera_azioni is a good practice in a rural area of Montichiari (IT) that has been deeply affected by the economic crisis and characterised by a diffused vulnerability. #genera_azioni focuses on families as the principal victims of crisis. It tackles poverty (economic difficulty, lack of relationships, unemployment, social vulnerability) with a generative, community-based model of welfare.
    #genera_azioni enables the community to deal with people’s difficulties. It connects people, stories and experiences to develop integrated solutions. Being composed of four pillars that support each community – housing, work, community bonds and youth – it enables the community members to take care of themselves by combining their forces and sharing their know-how.

    The solutions offered by the good practice

    #genera_azioni acts on the community by focusing on the four nerve centres of many communities: home, work, the future of young people and the development of a strong sense of community and ideas launched by citizens. The hinge of the whole activities is the “community point”. Community points are places for people to meet, relate and take part in improving activities. They rise in strategic places to attract the members of the community and are driven by a facilitator, whose task is to promote mutual aid among citizens, families, workers, and to connect the people with enterprises and personal services. Around these places the different actions and programs develop. In particular: experiences of co-housing and housing-sharing with fragile families and social guardianship, the creation of a corporate network and of employability support measures, promotion of experiences of school-work through a local catalogue of proposals (to date more than 60 available positions) and extracurricular activities for young people, a Start-Up Plan developing ideas of citizens. All these actions follow an integrated approach to promote inclusion.

    Building on the sustainable and integrated approach

    #genera_azioni fits with sustainable development because it promotes a new kind of welfare and a different idea of “improved quality of life”, based on the importance of relationships and sharing resources, information and time. The project contributes to reduce inequality and social exclusion, creating new opportunities for people who normally can’t participate in the normal activities of the community and promoting meeting to become aware about their rights, abilities and possibilities. Our good practice also favours an integrated and participative approach to tackle social frailty: the project’s actions are implemented thanks to a network composed of institutions, entrepreneurs, nonprofits, volunteers and citizens. So the main actor that faces the challenge is the community itself, and it benefits from the added value of the network: to give complex answers to complex problems. Such actions don’t create new services for people to help, but enable and urge the recipients to take action, promoting a model of welfare based on mutual aid.

    Based on a participatory approach

    The project is characterised by a mixed governance system, comprising both public entities and locally involved non-profits organizations; this makes the stakeholders have a relevant role in the project development, as well as in its implementation. Furthermore, it treats a community-opened system that welcomes and supports the ideas and the participation of unconventional subjects and citizens. More than 50 entities take part in the welfare design process. Look at our governance on “Studio di fattibilità” attached.

    What difference has it made?

    #genera_azioni is a three-year project, now in its second year of activity. Currently, six Community Points have been opened in the district of implementation (District 9 in the Province of Brescia), reaching 530 individuals and 104 organisations (institutes, associations, cooperatives, parishes, informal groups) and developing 15 laboratories. Referring to the integrated plan about home, in 2016 the first social condominium experience was started, and the work of the facilitators has determined the subscription of 14 leases and three paths of cohabitation for frail families. Concerning work, three thematic laboratories have been implemented, and the activity of connection between supply and demand of labour produced six apprenticeships and 100 cognitive interviews. The project also achieved good results in actions directed toward young people: the youth involved around the project have been enabled to develop four laboratories for other young people, and took part in nine events co-projected on the territory. The students of the district’s high schools also gained access to a catalogue of 60 offers for work-study experiences with qualified enterprises. Thanks to the call for ideas #genera_idee, six ideas for innovative projects for community purposed by citizen were financed with a contribution of €9,500

    Why should other European cities use it?

    This good practice would be interesting for other cities around Europe, and especially for the small ones in rural areas: social frailty is a very diffused situation in Europe, whose population was hit hard by the economic crisis, and whose traditional welfare measures are now in trouble. This uneasiness is stronger and stronger in the rural areas, where the proposal of services is narrower than big cities, and where community bonds are weak. The good practice purposed by #genera_azioni addresses the problem with a simple but innovative strategy, supporting the development of a more sensitive community, in which people don’t passively rely on the welfare state for the management of social challenges, but perform preventive actions. Strengthening social bonds with a view to preventing fragility and exclusion, as well as mutual aid within the community, sets the stage for a significant improvement in the quality of life in that community.

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    Is a transfer practice
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