POINT (28.0425 45.423333)
  • BluAct

    The Intercultural cities programme (ICC) supports cities in reviewing their policies through an intercultural lens and developing comprehensive intercultural strategies to help them manage diversity positively and realise the diversity advantage.

    Amadora launches a Guide on the welcoming of migrants

    Blue Economy Forum

    BluAct Toolkit

    BluAct: The Documentary


    FEBRUARY / "Deep dive into the Piraeus BlueGrowth Initiative" meeting / Kick-off Phase 2 Piraeus, Greece 26-28 Feb 2019
    AUGUST / 1st BluAct partners meeting Phase 1 / Piraeus, Greece 25-26 Aug 2018
    MAY / "Preparing a Blue Economy Competition" meeting / Mataro, Spain 8-10 May 2019
    SEPTEMBER / "Incubation of Blue Economy Startups" meeting / Ostend, Belgium 17-19 Sep 2019
    JULY / "Blue Entrepreneurship Competition in a Flowchart" meeting / Galati, Romania 18 July 2019
    SEPTEMBER / #SeaZone Blue Entrepreneurship Competition is launched! / Ostend, Belgium 9 Sep 2019
    OCTOBER / Burgas Hackathon attracts 60 participants and generates 20 Blue Economy project ideas / Burgas, Bulgaria 15 Oct 2019
    JULY / BluAct Salerno is up and running, the first Blue Entrepreneurship competition of BluAct is now reality! / Salerno, Italy 25 Jul 2019
    DECEMBER / Salerno organized a successful Hackathon / Salerno, Italy 5-6 Dec 2019
    JANUARY / Transnational BluAct Meeting about "Celebrating the success of a Blue Entrepreneurship competition" and Project Mid-term Review / Matosinhos Portugal 27-29 Jan 2020
    OCTOBER / Danube Growth Initiative is launched! / Galati, Romania 15 Oct 2019
    MARCH / BluAct Matosinhos Startup Demo Day / Matosinhos Portugal 2 Mar 2020
    DECEMBER / Galati organized a successful Hackathon / Galati, Romania 20 Dec 2019
    JUNE / "Covid can't stop us!" Partners decided that the upcoming Burgas TNM will be substituted by 5 webinars / online 4 June 2020
    JUNE / Bluact Salerno Awards Demo Day - 10 winners / Salerno, Italy 5 June 2020
    JUNE / Mataro Premis Bluact Awards Demo Day / Mataro, Spain 22 Jun 2020
    JULY / The winners of Mataró BluAct Awards, started attending the incubation program at TecnoCampus / Mataro, Spain 3 Jul 2020
    SEPTEMBER / Preparation Workshop at BlueLab / Piraeus, Greece, 4 Sep 2020
    SEPTEMBER / Blue Growth Piraeus Demo Day - 50 participants - 1400 online viewers / Uni of Piraeus, Greece, 18 Sep 2020
    NOVEMBER / Burgas BlueS Camp with 9 blue economy ideas prepared for the upcoming Demo Day / Burgas, Bulgaria 21 Nov 2020
    MAY / Final Event / 27 and 28 May / HYBRID (online + 7 venues)
    MAY / Ostend SeaZone Competition / Ostend, Belgium, 19 May 2021

    Municipality of Athienou
    2, Archbishop Makarios III Ave.
    7600 Athienou Cyprus


    Municipality of Santiago de Compostela


    Municipality of Udine (Italy)


    For any enquires into Tech Revolution, email:

    Keep following our social media channels as we develop Tech Revolution 2.0 as part of the second wave of URBACT ||| Programme. 

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    Av. Movimento das Forças Armadas

    2700-595 Amadora



    +351 21 436 9000

    Ext. 1801


    City of Rome

    Department of European Funds and Innovation

    Via Palazzo di Città, 1 - 10121 Turin (Italy)



    Câmara Municipal de Lisboa

    Departamento de Desenvolvimento Local

    Edifício Municipal, Campo Grande nº25, 6ºE | 1749 -099 Lisboa



    Laura González Méndez. Project coordinator.

    Gijón City Council


    Municipality of Piraeus


    BluAct is a Transfer network of 7 European port cities including Piraeus, Mataro, Ostend, Galati, Matosinhos, Burgas and Salerno aiming to share good practices in Blue Economy entrepreneurship. The project follows the success of Piraeus’ Blue Growth Initiative, an entrepreneurship competition that offers incubation services to local businesses boosting innovation and job creation. Through an approach of creating Urbact Local Support Groups and engaging local stakeholders and other interested parties, with the ultimate aim of starting up the blue economy, BluAct aims to deliver far reaching results in the respective partner cities.

    Starting up the Blue Economy
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  • Urb-En Pact


    Lead Partner : Clermont Auvergne Métropole - France
    • Bialystok Functional Area - Poland
    • Palma di Montechiaro - Italy
    • CIM Alto Minho - Portugal
    • Métropole Rouen Normandie - France
    • Galati - Romania
    • Ecofellows - Tampere - Finland
    • Elefsina

    Clermont Auvergne Métropole - 64-66 avenue de l'Union Soviétique BP 231 63007 CLERMONT-FERRAND Cedex 1 - FRANCE


    Watch all the Urb-En Pact video stories here.


    • Kick-off Meeting
    • 1st Transnational Meeting in Bialystok Functional Area
    • Phase 2 Digital Kick-Off Meeting
    • Digital Transnational Meeting - Best Practises
    • Digital Transnational Meeting - Political Vision & Citizens Inclusion (Rouen)
    • Digital Transnational Meeting - Inclusion of companies (Elefsina)
    • Digital Transnational Meeting - Science & Innovation (Clermont Auvergne Métropole)
    • Digital Transnational Meeting - Major Infrastructure & Integrated Policies (Tampere)
    • Digital Transnational Meeting - Midterm Reflexions
    • COP 26 Network Meeting
    • Digital Transnational Meeting - IAPs Peer Reviews (CIM Alto Minho)
    • Transnational Meeting in Grenoble, France - IAPs Restitution
    • Transnational Meeting in Brussels, Belgium - Finance & Dissemination Event


    The URB-EN PACT booklet bears witness to the experiences of each partner city and the moments they shared in this adventure.


    Urb-En Pact Final Publication

    The 8 partner cities and organisations involved in the Urban Energy Pact project embrace the ambitious goal of becoming net zero energy (NZE) territories no later than 2050. Urb-En Pact aims to define local action plans for the implementation of a local and sustainable energy balance by producing and delivering renewable and regulated sources of energy. Urb-En Pact will unite all of the stakeholders of this circular economy, especially the consumers included in this energy loop, in and around the metropolitan area.

    Together towards net zero energy cities
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  • 23 Action Planning Networks ready for Phase 2!

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    On 7 May, URBACT's Monitoring Committee has officially approved all Action Planning Networks to proceed to Phase 2.



    The main objective of Action Planning Networks is to bring together between 7 and 10 cities across Europe to exchange their experience in a particular thematic urban development challenge and to share their ideas about possible solutions, during a period of over 2 years. The Phase 1 (from late June 2019 to February 2020) focused on the development of baseline studies, city profiles and the production of the Application Form for Phase 2.

    Following the Monitoring Committee's approval of the networks, cities are now ready to focus on the exchange and learning activities using a range of learning tools and approaches in line with the URBACT Method. Every partner city will consolidate an URBACT Local Group, which will co-design Integrated Action Plans for future implementation. The Phase 2 also presents a novelty for the projects, from now on cities are encouraged to undertake pilot actions (Small Scale Actions), to experiment with new ideas for projects gained from other network exchanges and in line with the cities’ network topic.

    As a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic, the URBACT Secretariat will follow up with a series of adapted activities to support these networks and their partners, including the delivery of trainings using online formats and a 3 months extension of the network life-cycle, meaning that projects will run until August 2022. Thus, networks will respect the following calendar:


    • Activation Stage (May - December 2020): putting together an Integrated Action Plan roadmap
    • Planning Actions (December 2020 - December 2021): drafting the Integrated Action Plan
    • Planning Implementation (December 2021 - June 2022): finalising the Integrated Action Plan
    • Integrated Action Plans Finale (June - August 2022): sharing knowledge


    You can find all approved networks in the table below, the Lead Partner city is indicated is bold. To find out more about each one of the projects, check the network's webpages.
    Congratulations to the 23 approved projects!





    Research, technological development and innovation


    Leiria (PT)
    - Longford (IE)
    - Madrid (ES)
    - Mechelen (BE)
    - Michalovce (SK)
    - Parma (IT)
    - Pella (EL)
    - Unione della Romagna Faentina (IT)
    - Szabolcs 05 Regional Development Association of Municipalities (HU)

    Security and safety are two common goods and fundamental components of European democracy. This network intends to analyse strategies and concepts of urban design and planning, which could contribute to prevent segregation and anti-social behaviour. Additionally, this network wishes to co-create an integrated approach towards urban security focusing on improving citizens’ quality of life and the city’s smart, sustainable and inclusive growth towards a good living environment.

    Find your Greatness

    Alba Iulia (RO)
    - Bragança (PT)
    - Candelaria (ES)
    - Perugia (IT)
    - Wroclaw (PL)
    - Võru (EE)
    - Limerick (IE)
    - Budafok-Tétény 22nd district of Budapest (HU)

    The challenge is to build on the cities' opportunities. The partners of the project need to identify locally a strength, which was built as a sustainable mechanism generating urban development. The goal of this network is to explore and enhance the potential of the city, combining strategic marketing approach with innovative smart city tools.

    Access to and use of ICT

    (previously DI4C)

    Messina (IT)
    - Botosani (RO)
    - Oulu (FI)
    - Portalegre (PT)
    - Roquetas de Mar (ES)
    - Saint- Quentin (FR)
    - Trikala (EL)
    - Ventspils Digital Centre (LV)

    This network aims to set up an acceleration mechanism to enable cities to catch up the digitalisation opportunities in hard & soft infrastructure. Remove all the obstacles encountered by mid-sized cities in their digital journey: lack of strategic & global vision lack of technical and engineering capacities difficulties in incorporating the digital innovation. Municipalities need to guaranty the uptake of digital innovation by the local stakeholders: citizen and entrepreneurs.


    Fundão (PT)
    - Dodoni (EL)
    - Jelgava (LV)
    - Nevers Agglomeration (FR)
    - Razlog (BG)
    - Ånge (SE)
    - Kežmarok (SK)
    - Åbo Akademi University (FI)

    The objective is to encourage the creation of a network of European cities committed to the design of digitalization plans based on Internet of Things (IoT) solutions to increase the quality of life in small and medium sized EU cities, guiding us through a new age of digital transformation.

    Competitiveness of SMEs


    Amarante (PT)
    - Balbriggan (IE)
    - Pori (FI)
    - Pärnu (EE)
    - Grosseto (IT)
    - Gabrovo (BG)
    - Heerlen (NL)
    - Kočevje (SI)
    - Medina del Campo

    - Saldus (LV)

    This network aim to produce 10 different and unique robust economic development strategies, targeting their own genuine niches, and generating urban innovation ecosystems. City partners will focus on deepening the understanding of their own local economic strengths and establish strategic methods to revitalise their economy, adapt their city to the next economy and to future economic changes, establishing methodological bases for generate resilient cities.

    Tourism Friendly Cities

    Genoa (IT)
    - Braga (PT)
    - Rovaniemi (FI)
    - Venice (IT)
    - Utrecht (NL)
    - Krakow (PL)
    - Cáceres (ES)
    - Druskininkai (LT)
    - Dún Laoghaire Rathdown (IE)
    - Dubrovnik Development Agency (HR)

    This network aims to explore how tourism can be sustainable in medium-sized cities, reducing the negative impact on neighbourhoods and areas interested by different types of tourism to reach this ambitious aim, the project will create integrated and inclusive strategies which can keep a balance between the needs of the local community, in terms of quality of life and of services available, and the promotion of sustainable urban development at environmental, social and economic level.

    Low carbon economy in all sectors

    Urb-En Pact

    Clermont Auvergne Metropole (FR)
    - Bialystok Association of the Functional Area (PL)
    - CIM Alto Minho (PT)
    - Rouen Normandie Metropole (FR)
    - Elefsina (EL)
    - Galati (RO)
    - Palma di Montechiaro (IT)
    - Tampere EcoFellows (FI)

    Local authorities embrace the ambitious goal to become a zero-net energy territory within the next 30 years. Thus, the aim is to define the local action plans to become zero-net (ZNE) territory by producing and delivering local, renewable and regulated sources of energy by the implementation of an energy loop which gathers all the stakeholders of this circular economy, especially the consumers included in this fair trade business in and around the metropolitan area.

    Zero Carbon Cities
    (previously ZCC)

    Manchester (UK)
    - Bistrita (RO)
    - Zadar (HR)
    - Modena (IT)
    - Frankfurt am Main (DE)
    - Tartu (EE)
    - Vilvoorde (BE)

    The network will support capacity building of cities to establish science-based carbon reduction targets and their Sustainable Energy Action Plans (SEAPs) aligned to Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Working with 7cities to adopt different approaches to carbon budgeting and science-based targets, the network will undertake a programme of capacity building in order to support their local activities and integrated action plan and influence Covenant of Mayors' signatory cities.

    Environmental protection and resource efficiency


    Barcelona Metropolitan Area (ES)
    - Porto Metropolitan Area (PT)
    - Krakow Metropole Association (PL)
    - Paris Metropolitan Area (FR)
    - Gdansk-Gdynia-Sopot Metropolitan Area (PL)
    - Amsterdam Region (NL)
    - Transport for Greater Manchester (UK)
    - Thessaloniki Major Development Agency (EL)

    The overall goal is to rethink, transform and integrate mobility infrastructure aiming at reconnecting people, neighbourhoods, cities and natural spaces. The project will develop planning strategies, processes, instruments and partnerships, fostering public transport and active mobility, reducing externalities and unlocking opportunities of urban regeneration with the objectives of structuring the territory, and achieving a more sustainable, equitable and attractive metropolis.


    Utrecht (NL)
    - Riga (LV)
    - Oeste CIM (PT)
    - Copenhagen (DK)
    - Granada (ES)
    - Munich (DE)
    - Kavala (EL)
    - Prato (IT)
    - Nigrad (SI)

    URGE (circUlaR buildinG citiEs) aims to design integrated urban policies on circularity in the building sector – a major consumer of raw materials – as there is a gap in knowledge on this topic. The result is an in-depth understanding of this theme and a first plan for a tailor-made methodology that allows the circular dimension to be widely integrated in the large construction tasks the URGE partnership is facing. URGE thus accelerates the transition towards a circular economy.

    Healthy Cities

    Vic (ES)
    - Anyksciai (LT)
    - Bradford (UK)
    - Alphen aan den Rijn (NL)
    - Falerna (IT)
    - Farkadona (EL)
    - Loulé (PT)
    - Pärnu (EE)
    - Malta Planning Authority (MT)

    This network aims to deepen the relationship between health and the urban environment, planning actions that focus on improving the population’s health, while developing a rigorous health impact assessment methodology around it. Urban Planning can become a health generator on many grounds, and this network of cities reflects the multiplicity of possible approaches to tackle the issue: green areas, mobility, social cohesion or promotion of sports are some examples.


    Mula (ES)
    - Belene (BG)
    - Cesena (IT)
    - Malbork (PL)
    - Roskilde (DK)
    - Heraklion (EL)
    - Šibenik (HR)
    - Ukmergè (LT)


    The ultimate goal is to represent a moment of change, improving the urban environment of cities involved, developing heritage-led urban regeneration. It will enhance the potential of heritage in small and medium cities developing strategies for economic and social cohesion, inclusion and sustainable urban development. This network fosters the transnational exchange of experiences to test an innovative policy framework, combining a sound integrated approach with a real transformation purpose.


    Resourceful Cities
    (previously UrbReC)

    The Hague (NL)
    - Bucharest 3rd district (RO)
    - Ciudad Real (ES)
    - Mechelen (BE)
    - Cáceres (ES)
    - Patras (EL)
    - Oslo (NO)
    - Opole (PL)
    - Vila Nova Famalicão (PT)
    - Zagreb (HR)


    This network seeks to develop the next generation of urban resource centers to promote the positive economic, environmental and social impacts for the circular economy. They facilitate waste prevention, reuse, repair and recycling. The centers also work as connection points for citizens, new businesses, researchers and the public sector to co-create new ways to close resource loops at the local level.

    (previously Rurban Food)

    Coimbra Region (PT)
    - Alba Iulia (RO)
    - Córdoba (ES)
    - Larissa (EL)
    - Szécsény (HU)
    - Bassa Romagna Union (IT)
    - Tartu Tartumaa Arendusselts (EE)
    - BSC Kranj and Gorenjska (SI)

    Recent experience suggests that it is necessary to promote a transition towards regional food systems. This network encourage the creation of a network of European cities committed to the design of food plans that extend from the urban and periurban areas through a corridor that facilitates urban-rural re-connection. This approach enhances production and consumption environments founded on a base of economic, social and environmental sustainability, integrated into development policies.


    Hegyvidék 12th district of Budapest (HU)
    - Espoo (FI)
    - Limerick (IE)
    - Messina (IT)
    - Breda (NL)
    - Poznań (PL)
    - Santa Pola (ES)
    - Suceava (RO)
    - Tartu (EE)

    As a response to the various health risks related to rapid urbanization and the densification of cities, this network project promotes health-responsive planning and management of urban green infrastructure with an overall aim to bring health and wellbeing benefits for citizens across Europe. The network applies a holistic approach that addresses the main functions provided by urban green infrastructure that deliver health and social benefits.

    Sustainable transport


    Bielefeld (DE)
    - Arad (RO)
    - Badalona (ES)
    - Nazaré (PT)
    - Turku (FI)
    - Guía de Isora (ES)
    - Panevèžys (LT)
    - Saint-Germain-en-Laye (FR)
    - Sérres (EL)
    - Valga (EE)

    This network improves quantity and quality of attractive public spaces in urban areas. For this, it tackles the main public space use being transportation in 3 aspects: improving user experience and adding space to pedestrian networks and (semi) pedestrianised places, upscaling intermodal hubs to urban centres of mixed use as well as reducing and optimising parking in public space. The project takes a user-centric approach by users assessing and creating future use and design of public space.

    Thriving Streets

    Parma (IT)
    - Antwerp (BE)
    - Igoumenitsa (EL)
    - Klaipèda (LT)
    - Nova Gorica (SI)
    - Oradea (RO)
    - Santo Tirso (PT)
    - Radom (PL)
    - Southwark London Borough (UK)
    - Debrecen Economic Development Centre (HU)

    This is a network that addresses the bottlenecks in sustainable urban mobility. The project will focus on the economic and social benefits of sustainable mobility, rather than on the widely demonstrated environmental effects. The network argues that working with local amenities and social networks at neighbourhood level could unlock the hidden demand for active mobility in cities, and thus act as enabler of behaviour change towards more resilient and liveable neighbourhoods.

    Employment protection and resource efficiency


    Heerlen (NL)
    - Aarhus (DK)
    - Baia Mare (RO)
    - Fundão (PT)
    - Kecskemét (HU)
    - Pordenone (IT)
    - Zaragoza (ES)
    - Võru Development Centre (EE)

    This network aims to explore how social impact bonds can be used to improve public service delivery in areas such as employment, ageing, and immigration. Often, the delivery of services is hindered by fragmented and siloed agencies and budgets, financial and political shorttermism, and an aversion to risk and difficulty creating change. The social impact bond is a promising model that ameliorates these issues by increasing collaboration, prevention, and innovation.

    Social inclusion and poverty


    Ghent (BE)
    - Braga (PT)
    - Glasgow (UK)
    - Thessaloniki (EL)
    - Liège (BE)
    - Odense (DK)
    - Poznań (PL)
    - Toulouse Metropole (FR)
    - Timisoara Department of Social Assistance (RO)

    This project aims to eradicate homelessness through innovative housing solutions at city level. It will exchange knowledge on how to gather accurate data and make the conceptual shift from the symptomatic management to the actual ending of homelessness, with Housing First and Housing Led as guidance model. This network will guide the partner cities towards integrated local action plans linked to the long-term strategic goal of Functional Zero (no structural homelessness).


    Agen (FR)
    - Bistrita (RO)
    - Cento (IT)
    - Dinslaken (DE)
    - Hradec Králové (CZ)
    - Santa Maria da Feira (PT)
    - Saint-Quentin (FR)
    - Tartu (EE)

    The aim of this network is to rethink the place of the citizens in the local governance by finding a balance between representative democracy and participatory democracy. This network of European small and medium-sized cities, with the same expectations and similar challenges, will notably take into account, to do this, new digital tools while integrating the issue of citizens away or not comfortable with digital tools.


    Amsterdam (NL)
    - Dublin (IE)
    - Lisbon (PT)
    - Riga (LV)
    - Sofia (BG)
    - Tallinn (EE)
    - Vilnius (LT)
    - London Greater Authority (UK)

    This network addresses the importance of inclusive cultural policies. A challenge all cities in this project face is that culture does not enrich or empower all people equally. We need to gain a better understanding of our communities in order to engage all citizens in our cities. We have identified four topics to work on that will enable us to gain that understanding and support us in reaching all population groups in the participating cities from the west, east and south of Europe.


    Umeå (SE)
    - Frankfurt am Main (DE)
    - Panevèžys (LT)
    - Trikala (EL)
    - La Rochelle (FR)
    - Barcelona Activa SA (ES)
    - Celje JZ Socio (SI)

    Creating conditions for gender equality through a holistic understanding of how gender inequality is created in the specific place. This network creates an exchange on challenges faced by cities with an understanding of gender inequality that is globally understood but locally contextualised.

    Education, skills and lifelong learning


    Milan (IT)
    - Bratislava (SK)
    - Budaörs (HU)
    - Guimarães (PT)
    - Molina de Segura (ES)
    - Nantes Metropole (FR)
    - Rijeka (HR)
    - Kekava (LV)
    - Sofia (BG)
    -Vratsa (BG)

    Through intensive capacity building of local actors, the network will increase collaboration among municipalities, businesses and the civic society in order to promote sustainable, inclusive & innovative urban change. The project aims at increasing the role and added value of companies’ CSR activities at local level, towards urban regeneration and social innovation, with a special emphasis on education, in order to better address emerging and unmet local needs.




    Interested in finding more about the approved networks and what they will do? Watch the URBACT Method video and check out the Action Planning Network's infographic!

    From urbact
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  • City-run ‘hackathons’: worth the hype?

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    More cities are turning to the hackathon-style, but do they really work?

    City Branding

    Cities are turning to hackathon-style events to spark new business, generate policy ideas, and co-create innovative urban solutions. But do they really work? We put the question to urban innovation experts and municipal staff in five URBACT cities… and came up with the answer: “Yes, if you include the right people, adapt the format to your needs, and provide follow-up support to winning ideas.”


    But first… what the hack is a hackathon?


    “Hackathons are intense events where bright minds work in teams to tackle a challenge over a relatively short period of time,” says Jim Sims, Lead expert, URBACT BluAct Transfer network. “They generally involve businesspeople, technologists, marketing people, data engineers, designers and randomly selected people – wildcards – working together to solve common challenges.”

    Hackathons were originally developed for teams of coders; one produced Facebook’s famous “Like” button. But today their scope goes way beyond tech. These one to three day brainstorming events are held by all sorts of organisations, including city halls, to create ideas and build targeted solutions.  

    The spirit of Alex F. Osborn’s 1939 “brainstorm sessions” lives on in hackathons today. His participants tackled a creative problem “in commando fashion, with each stormer attacking the same objective”. They avoided judgment and collected wild ideas. “The greater the number of ideas, the more likelihood of winners.”


    Hackathons: a good thing for cities?


    “When a hackathon works it’s a win-win-win solution that shakes minds, develops new ideas and changes the mindsets of institutions,” says Francois Jégou, Lead expert, URBACT BioCanteens Transfer network.

    Well-run hackathons help boost innovation as part of a broader business development programme – especially in cities lacking entrepreneurship and youth.

    Around ports, for example, hackathons can generate ideas in areas as diverse as sea rescue applications, smart ports, shipping, GPS technology, underwater data, even ocean tourism, fashion or food. For Sims, “They provide a really interesting mechanism to crash together different sectors that wouldn’t ordinarily work together, like a slightly more traditional marine and maritime sector together with a more cutting edge, fledgling ICT sector.”

    Cites also use hackathons to co-create urban solutions, and improve policymaking. With colleagues of all levels, future partners and stakeholders, says Jégou, hackathons “quickly shake up ideas, spontaneity, excitement, for people who may’ve been just looking at each other for years, especially in public administration.”

    And then there are the big-buzz events like Hack Belgium, that Jégou describes as “three creative days to experience hackathon excitement… without expecting real output”.




    Let’s be realistic, says Mario Laghi from Cesena (IT), in the URBACT BeePathNet Transfer network, “It’s very hard to organise a really effective hackathon, especially with the expectation of coming out with smart, innovative, easy-to-realise, ready-to-market ideas. Especially the long-lasting results are very hard to be pursued even when the level of actors and participants is very high.”

    Some hackathons suffer by setting a challenge too broad, complex, or poorly defined. Others have been blamed for rewarding easier-to-pitch solutions, or more competitive personalities. Meanwhile, some cities later regret not involving moderators, tech people, schools or inspiring entrepreneurs.

    The key pitfall is that when participants head home, their freshly created solutions disappear. “There are plenty of hackathons where people come up with interesting ideas that never make it to market,” warns Sims.

    Even when winning creative teams do get quality incubation services, mentoring and finance, they don’t always stay as enthusiastic as their mentors.


    So, how are URBACT cities making the most of hackathons?


    “URBACT accompanies cities who are innovating in many aspects of governance, and there’s an increasing interest in hackathons. How do they ensure they’re useful, and adapted to policy questions?” says Nuala Morgan, head of URBACT’s Capitalisation and Communication Unit.

    Let’s visit five cities in ongoing URBACT III transfer networks to find out.


    1. Mouans-Sartoux (FR): BioCanteens mini-hackathon techs up local policy


    BioCanteens partner cities held their own three-hour mini-hackathon “mind opening” exercise in smart city Trikala (EL) in October 2019. Teams each devised an app supporting sustainable school canteens – traditionally a rather low-tech sector – and illustrated its use. They pitched their ideas to each other, ending with feedback.

    Hackathon first-timer Thibaud Lalanne returned to Mouans-Sartoux having outlined an app linking consumers with local organic producers. But more importantly he’d learnt “to take into account my local objectives, local constraints, local challenges, and see how digital solutions could be integrated.”

    Lalanne says this improved digital awareness is helping Mouans-Sartoux prepare a “smart food strategy”, with expertise and support from the European Commission's Preparatory Action on Smart Rural Areas in the 21st Century.

    “We were energised: It was a great way to start from fuzzy ideas and come up with some very interesting prototypes, at high speed,” says Lalanne, whose municipal farm supplies schools with organic produce.



    2. Cesena (IT): Hackathon alternative to help boost local bee businesses


    “How can local honey and bee products compete with cheaper mass produced imports?” To find innovative-yet-realistic solutions to this complex challenge, BeePathNet partner city Cesena is preparing a five-step series of idea jams.

    Their upcoming “BeePath Jam” features four sub-topics: storytelling; short supply chains; product branding; strategic vision for the beekeepers’ association. Multidisciplinary teams will tackle one or more topics over the course of five workshops, presenting their solutions in a sixth, final event.

    Each team is to include a beekeeper, together with entrepreneurs and students in IT, environmental science, food science, agriculture, design or architecture.

    “We’re stressing collaboration, but there’s also competition: in the end the most suitable solution will be selected, and the association of beekeepers is really interested to go ahead with implementation. So we need to give time to these co-creation groups to define real complex and integrated solutions,” says Saveria Teston, who coordinates the URBACT Local Group building the event. ULG members include the agricultural college, Bologna University, Cesenalab business incubator, regional innovation consortium ART-ER – and AFA beekeepers association.

    BeePath Jam builds on Cesena’s legacy of start-up events sparking new product ideas, from a crop-disease reduction app to protein superfood candies.


    3. Burgas (BG): Student hackathon enhances port city start-up competition


    Burgas joined BluAct to learn from Piraeus’ (EL) Blue Growth Initiative – a competition offering local business incubation services that has triggered 20 start-ups and 55 new jobs since 2014.

    Linked to the competition, the Bla

    ck Sea port city held a “blue economy” hackathon for more than 60 IT students, cooperating with Burgas University. Their winning ideas – eco-friendly “blue plastic”, a fish tracker app, a boat-sharing platform, and a gutter-water electricity generator – will enter a three-day Piraeus-inspired competition in April, alongside entrepreneurs applying online.

    Burgas municipality’s Mariya Burulyanova says, “We familiarised participants with the concept of blue economy and how their ideas will be useful for the city of Burgas.”

    “It was a very successful event with fresh, smart ideas of young people who are very keen to work on this subject,” adds Georgi Sakaliev, Burgas municipality.

    In April, three innovative proposals will win up to 2500 euros, a trip to learn from Piraeus maritime entrepreneurs, and incubation support from partners like Burgas Port and other local businesses.

    With strong local political support “Burgas Blues” competition looks set to become a regular event.


    4. Galati (RO): Local businesses support new Danube Growth Initiative hackathons


    The Danube port city of Galati is also organising a Piraeus-inspired entrepreneurship competition, with business support and a final pitch event in April 2020. Like Burgas, Galati’s pitch event will feature hackathon participants alongside entrepreneurs who apply online.

    But while Burgas built on an established annual university hackathon, Galati created two business ideation hackathons from scratch – a first for the city – thanks to “a core of very involved, highly interested professionals that formed Galati’s URBACT Local Group (ULG) from various sectors: universities, ship designers, banking system, NGOs and IT,” says Galati municipality’s Carmen Ana Ariton-Bejan.

    Attending the December 2019 hackathon, Galati mayor Ionuț-Florin Pucheanu congratulated such cooperation between the municipality, academics and local business.

    At each event 24 young entrepreneurs teamed up to create sustainable business ideas in advanced infrastructure, software development, emissions reduction, advanced manufacturing technologies, or energy efficiency systems.

    ULG members’ feedback gave “a glimpse into the inner workings of the private sector and on running a business in our city,” says Prof Camelia Vizireanu, ULG Coordinator. “Hackathons are a good way to stop the braindrain in Galati by giving entrepreneurs the chance of developing and testing their ideas in a ‘safe space’.”


    5. Ostend (BE): Local pitch event builds on Hack Belgium


    At Hack Belgium 2018, the City of Ostend discovered many Ostenders working on sea-related topics, from tourism to high-tech innovation. On joining BluAct, Ostend connected those

    partners, forming an URBACT Local Group. This enabled them to coordinate an Ocean Challenge booth at Hack Belgium 2019 and showcase inspirational businesses including a fish-leather worker.

    Support continued post-hackathon. “Thanks to BluAct we had a bigger, stronger local network so we could also take back ideas from Hack Belgium and further build on them in Ostend,” says City of Ostend’s Astrid Vanackere.

    Ostend invited interested hackathon participants to its own blue economy competition, with a pitch event in March. After an online assessment and follow-up, nine teams are set to pitch innovative ideas to a jury of ULG members. Vanackere says this event will start the incubation phase and help tailor business guidance to the needs of each project.

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  • Preparing Net Zero Energy for cities and regions

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    The URB-EN PACT project will develop a method for city-regions to prepare Net Zero Energy action plans.


    The Paris Agreement covers greenhouse-gas-emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance. Its  terms were finalised at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP 21, held in Paris, France. It was signed in 2016. The 196 participating countries agreed to a global pact, called the Paris Agreement or Paris Protocol, to reduce their carbon output "as soon as possible”. They also committed to do their best to keep global warming "to well below 2 degrees C” compared to pre-industrial levels. Countries also agreed to "pursue efforts to" limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C where possible. The 1.5 °C goal will require zero emissions sometime between 2030 and 2050, and this is what is driving cities to take action now.

    Cities and energy consumption


    In 1900, just 13% of the global population lived in cities. By 2015, the figure was more than 50%.  So it is not surprising that it is cities where most of the world’s population live. This explains why   around 70% of total global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions comes from urban areas.

    Some cities are already well advanced in their implementation of Net Zero Energy processes.  For example, Copenhagen has a plan to become a Net Zero Energy city by 2025 .  But Copenhagen has been at the forefront of sustainable urban policies for many decades.  What about other cities - “typical cities” - whose experience of implementing environmental policies is less developed? 

    The URB-EN PACT Project


    URB-EN PACT is a partnership project for “typical” European cities, not just those that are well advanced in achieving energy sustainability. The Project’s partners are diverse in terms of their geographic location, size, demographic profile, industry profile, and experience of implementing energy efficient measures.  The nine partners represent seven European nations, each of which has distinctive energy policies and energy mix. This can be seen clearly from the following table that provides summary data for each partner.


    The diversity of the partners is a key strength of the project. It ensures that the challenges faced by quite different city regions in reaching Net Zero status can be assessed. For example, at least one of the partners has a steel-making plant (carbon generator) within its boundary while another has a large urban forest (carbon sink). The profile of stakeholders who must be engaged in each of these cities will be very different.  Having the opportunity to develop and test a process that is applicable to both of these cities will make the project output more robust.



    Country (and approx location)



    City-Region Type

    National Energy mix

    Alto Minho [Region]


    Portugal (region North of Porto)


    Urban, low density territory comprising several small cities

    Thermal (65%), Wind (20%), Hydro (13%), Other (2%).


    Poland (North East)


    Urban, medium density

    Coal (79%), Gas (5.8%), Renewable (7.2%), Hydro (1%), Other (6.1%)

    Clermont-Auvergne Metropole

    [Lead Partner]

    France (Central)


    Urban, medium density

    Nuclear (75%), Hydro (10%), Gas (7%),Wind (4%), Coal (3%), Solar (2%)


    Greece (West of Athens)


    Urban, low density

    Oil (49%), Coal (21%), Gas (19%), Biofuels & Waste (6%), Geothermal, Solar & Wind (5%)


    Romania (East)


    Urban, medium density

    Hydro (28%), Coal (27%), Oil & Gas (21%), Wind (14%), Nuclear (6%), Solar (3%)

    Metropole Rouen Normandie

    France (North West)


    Urban, medium density

    Nuclear (75%), Hydro (10%), Gas (7%), Wind (4%), Coal (3%), Solar (2%)

    Palma di Montechiaro [Region]

    Italy (Region South Sicily)


    Urban, Low density

    Gas (38%), Oil (38%), Renewables & Waste (13%), Coal (10%) [for Italy]


    Finland (South West)


    Urban, medium density

    Nuclear (33%), CHP (heat 20%), Hydro (19%), CHP (Industry 15%), Condensing (12%) Wind (1%)


    Broad Stakeholder Engagement is essential


    The scope or reach of the URB-EN PACT project is wide. The partners are focused on how energy is produced as well as consumed. They wish to stimulate a greater awareness of energy issues within their populations and to develop a culture of energy conservation amongst all consumer types (citizens and industry).  Like COP21, URB-EN PACT recognises that it is essential for there to be a ‘pact’ between all of the cities’ stakeholders - focusing on one group or area will not lead to the required sustainable change.

    URB-EN PACT’s goals include reducing demand for energy by both industry and citizens while also identifying how to replace fossil fuel generation with renewable sources.  Each city’s energy mix will be unique to their needs and available resources.  Already we have seen innovative solutions such as generating bio-gas from waste.

    URB-EN PACT will also focus on activities that minimise our broader environmental impact. Thus, carbon reduction and circular economy principles will be included within its scope.


    Although very early in the process, the kick-off meeting helped identify immediate areas of experience, which the partners could share.  These included high efficiency street lighting, hydrogen for mobility, commercialising University research, community energy production, energy storage, citizen engagement and district heating enhancements. After just two City Visits, we have a range of suggestions for Small Scale Actions.


    Active Engagement of Civic Leaders


    The project recognises the central role that strong civic leadership plays in driving change.  We are looking at how the partners’ Mayors can be engaged individually and collectively in an innovative way. URB-EN PACT is shaping up to be a very interesting project!

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    Project launch
    Project completed

    FIN-URB-ACT strives for more efficient local support structures for SMEs' development and innovative economies. The rationale is that such structures on local level - where financial instruments meet nonfinancial assistance - are basic prerequisites for fostering start-ups and business growth.

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