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  • TechTown

    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

    2ndChance on Facebook

    2ndChance on Twitter

    Timeline

    Kick-off meeting in June (Basingstoke). Transnational meetings in September (Limerick) and November (Cesis)
    Transnational meetings in March (Barnsley), June (Gavle), September (Dubrovnik) and November (Loop City).
    Final event in April (Brussels).

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

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Santiago de Compostela

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Udine (Italy)

    CONTACT US

    For any enquires into Tech Revolution, email: DMC@Barnsley.gov.uk

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

    Follow our Twitter: @Tech_RevEu
    Follow our Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/urbact-techrevolution/

    CONTACT US

    Coordinator

    ADDRESS

    Av. Movimento das Forças Armadas

    2700-595 Amadora

    Portugal 

    TELEPHONE

    +351 21 436 9000

    Ext. 1801

    CONTACT US

    City of Rome

    tamara.lucarelli@comune.roma.it

    Department of European Funds and Innovation

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

     

    CONTACT US

    Câmara Municipal de Lisboa

    Departamento de Desenvolvimento Local

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

    CONTACT US

    urbact.civicestate@gmail.com

    CONTACT US

    Laura González Méndez. Project coordinator.

    Gijón City Council

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Piraeus

    CONTACT US

    City of Ljubljana

    Mestni trg 1

    1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

    CONTACT US

    Project Coordinator Martin Neubert

    +49 371 355 7029

     

    CONTACT US

    Riga NGO House

    CONTACT US

    City of Antwarp
    Grote Markt 1 - 2000 Antwarpen

    Manchester City Council
    Manchester M2 5RT

    City of Rotterdam
    Coolsingel 40, 3011 AD Rotterdam

    City Council Bielefeld
    Bürger Service Center
    Phone +49 521 510

    CONTACT US

    City of Eindhoven
    Stadhuisplein 1, 5611 EM Eindhoven

    City of Loulé
    Praça da República, 8104-001 Loulé
    Phone +351 289 400 600

    CONTACT US

    City of Igualada
    Plaça de l'Ajuntament, 1, 08700 Igualada, Barcelona

    CONTACT US

    City of Ghent
    Stad Gent
    Botermarkt 1
    9000 Gent

    City of Genoa
    Via di Francia, 1 - XI floor. 16149 Genova

    CONTACT US

    City of San Donà di Piave Piazza Indipendenza, 13 – 30027

    CONTACT US

    City of Naples
    Urban Planning Department 
    Phone +39 081 7958932 - 34 - 17 

    CONTACT US

    The Barnsley Digital Media  County Way, Barnsley, S70 2JW
    Phone +44 01226 720700 

    CONTACT US

    By exploring how small and medium sized cities can maximise the job creation potential of the digital economy, this Action Planning network examined whether there is potential for spillover from stronger city level digital economies; how clusters can work at city level and look collaboratively at what cities can do to support businesses to access the digital skills and innovations they need in order to start, grow and compete. The city partners further explored the role and viability of digital, content creation and technology clusters and how benefit may be gained from major city or national initiatives to benefit job creation and growth in small and medium sized cities. The project was 'of the digital economy' as well as 'for the digital economy' in that it used digital technologies as much as possible throughout management and delivery.

    A digital city future, adapt or die
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  • Global Goals for Cities

    Global Goals for Cities map

    Lead Partner : Tallinn - Estonia
    • Klaipèda - Lithuania
    • Braga - Portugal
    • Bratislava - Slovakia
    • Gävle - Sweden
    • Glasgow
    • Heraklion - Greece
    • La Rochelle - France
    • Manresa - Spain
    • Reggio Emilia - Italy
    • Schiedam - Netherlands
    • Veszprém - Hungary
    • Solingen - Germany
    • Mouscron - Belgium
    • Trim - Ireland
    • Ozalj - Croatia
    • Jihlava - Czech Republic
    • Dzierżoniów - Poland
    • Véliki Preslav - Bulgaria

    Twitter

    Summary

    Timeline

    • Kick-off meeting
    • Participation at the 2022 World Urban Forum in Katowice (PL)
    • Localising Sustainable Development Goals Conference in Manresa (ES)

    Library

    Articles

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    • How EU cities can localise SDGs through integrated action planning

      Global Goals For Cities Lead Expert Stina Heikkila shows URBACT cities taking steps to link local and global sustainability goals.

    • Senioral policy in Dzierżoniów and the goals of sustainable development

      The Sustainable Development Goals have been defined by the United Nations (UN) in the document Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This document lists 17 Sustainable Development Goals and related activities that are planned to be achieved by UN member states. The goals are achieved not only at the government level - the sectors of science, business, non-governmental organizations and ordinary citizens also have a great influence.

    • From Vision to Transformative Actions for the SDGs: co-creation of integrated actions in Manresa

      Around one hour and a half from Barcelona by train, in a hilly area of the Bages county, is Manresa - a small-sized city with around 78 000 inhabitants - one of several partners of similar size in the Global Goals for Cities network. On 21 April, I had the chance to stop by and attend one of Manresa’s URBACT Local Group (ULG) meetings organised by the local coordination team. Here, I share a few highlights of how the ULG and the participatory process is helping to shape the priorities of the Manresa 2030 Agenda and the integrated action plan that is currently in the making.  

    • Video from the transnational meeting in Gävle

      A very nice and colorful short movie showcasing our three full workdays in Gävle.
      #TransnationalMeeting7
      Authors: partners from Mouscron, Christophe Deneve.

    • Insights from REGGIO EMILIA

      The city of Reggio Emilia (Italy) was the co-host of the 7th Transnational Meeting, which was held between 23-25 May 2022 in Sweden, along with the cities of Gävle (Sweden) and Dzierżoniów (Poland).

    • Video from transnational meeting in Solingen

      A short video of our first physical meeting in Solingen, Germany.
      The meeting was dedicated to the next phase of action planning and implementation on governance, partnerships, and policy coherence levels.

    • First face-to-face meeting in Solingen

      Together with the cities of Tallinn and Heraklion the TM#6 was hosted by Solingen and was held from April, 6 to April, 8 in the Theater and Concert Hall in Solingen. After one year of work in
      the GG4C project participants from 14 different countries took the chance to meet in person.

    • Insights from Heraklion, the co-host of TM6

      The city of Heraklion was the co-host of the 6th Transnational Meeting which was held between 5-8 April 2022 in Solingen, Germany along with Solingen and Tallinn.

    • SDG Story: Gävle

      Gävle and the other 18 cities (from 19 countries) of the EU URBACT pilot network ”Global Goals in Cities” (GG4C) are already one year into the 20 months project on localising the SDGs.
       

    • SDG Story: Mouscron

      Just halfway towards our goals following the marked route, the AGRI-URBAN Network (URBACT III Programme) held a transnational meeting in the Swedish city of Södertälje from 21 to 24 May 2017. A turning point in the agenda of this project, the meeting focused on the AGRI-URBAN topics linked to the experience of this city and also put the emphasis on shaping the Integrated Action Plans of all partners of the project with the participation of their respective URBACT Local Groups. Watching this video, produced after the visit, you can discover how inspirational was this Swedish city in the project design and later, fostering innovative actions in other partner cities involved in the development of local food systems.
    • SDG Story: Tallinn

      Guidelines for the implementation and monitoring of the sustainable development goals in the framework of Tallinn 2035 Development Strategy.

    • SDG Story: Jihlava

      Jihlava vision concept: aim is to be safe, socially cohesive, green and accessible city.

    • SDG Story: Bratislava

      Where are we coming from?

      Even though the first mention of Bratislava appears in 907, Bratislava is one of the youngest capitals in Europe (1993).

    • SDG Story: Reggio Emilia

      Where are we coming from? The city profile.

      Reggio Emilia is renowned in educational circles, with the philosophy known as the “Reggio Emilia Approach”; for pre-school and primary school children developed in the city shortly after World War II. At the same time, contemporary art, ancient monuments, and exhibitions such as Fotografia Europea have made the city rich in culture and social change —supported by the business community, services and the university. The city is connected by high-speed train to Milan, Bologna and Florence, and is within 45 minutes’ reach to all those cities. Reggio is the city of relations with Africa, the city of cycle paths and of Parmigiano Reggiano.

    • SDG Story: Veliki Preslav

      The third newspaper of tomorrow is here and it's from Veliki Presav, Bulgaria.
      Very inspirational article of how the city looks like beyond 2030, and as they declare - Veliki Preslav will be the most sustainable small city in their land.

    • SDG Story: Klaipėda

      In the visioning phase of our network, partners worked hard to co-create their visions for localizing the SDGs in their cities. The stories tell their vision for how to localise the SDGs in their cities.
      Here you can get a glimpse of Klaipėda - vibrant, smart, inclusive.

    • SDG Story: Heraklion

      In the Visioning phase of our URBACT Global Goals for Cities network in the second half of 2021, partners worked hard to co-create their visions for localizing the sustainable development goals in their cities.
      We’re happy to launch our ,campaign showing the diversity and creativity of the 19 stories.
      First up: Newspaper of future Heraklion -smart, resilient and livable city.

    • The RFSC a relevant tool for the city partners of the GG4C network

      In the course of the life of the Global Goals for Cities (GG4C) network, the 19 city partners used an existing self-assessment tool: the RFSC, or Reference Framework for Sustainable Cities. Based on European principles for sustainable and integrated urban development, the tool available online was used during the diagnosis and visioning phase of the network (as an analytical tool), and partners will use it again in the planning phase (as a planning tool). What is the RFSC? And what did it bring to the network?

    • The Citizen Committee of the La Rochelle Territory Zero Carbon project: How to build trust?

      On January 25, La Rochelle Urban Community presented to the Global Goals for Cities partners its ‘La Rochelle Territory Zero Carbon’ (LRTZC) project towards 2040, highlighting the following main characteristics and innovations : a shared and multilevel governance, an evaluation and financing tool 'the Carbon Cooperative', and a citizen co-construction approach through the establishment of a Citizen Committee.

    • Debating the future of Schiedam

      The future of the city of Schiedam is a recurring topic in the city council and the executive board and, of course, also in the city. These views and discussions have been reflected in the city vision for some time now.

    • Jihlava's successful collaboration with developers

      Every new construction in the city burdens the surrounding area with growing demands on transportation, social and health infrastructure, and other needs for a functioning urban society. Such externalities can be relatively reliably quantified, predicted or simulated. However, cities often must develop and maintain the infrastructure themselves. Is there a method to share costs with private developers and collaborate to build more sustainably with the needs of the citizens in mind?

    • Glasgow’s Journey towards the 2030 Agenda

      Race to net zero and climate resilience: localising the SDGs through meaningful participation and co-creation.

    • Manresa 2030 Agenda: localising the SDGs through meaningful participation

      Since the end of 2018, Manresa is working on its local 2030 Agenda: an integrated sustainability strategy to respond to the environmental, social, and economic challenges of the current decade. A strategy whose design, implementation and monitoring must be shared with all the local stakeholders and citizens.

    • Awareness-raising around the SDGs – a practical example from La Rochelle Urban Community

      On 25 November, Stina Heikkilä had the opportunity to participate in an exciting event organised by our Global Goals for Cities partner La Rochelle Urban Community: the bi-annual Participatory Forum for Actors for Transition (Forum Participatif des Acteurs de la Transition). For this Forum, the team from La Rochelle Urban Community had planned an “SDG edition” with the aim of raising awareness about the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs among local stakeholders.

    • Ozalj best practices on meaningful participation

      The city of Ozalj was the co-host of the 4th Transnational Meeting which was held virtually between 24-26 November 2021 along with Manresa and Glasgow. Our main theme was Meaningful participation and co-creation and each co-host city shared best practices and introduced other cities to local customs.

    • Trim: Raising awareness of the SDGs

      The courthouse in Trim stands in the centre of the town, with the castle in the background, it is a reminder of the history and heritage of Trim. Both grey stone buildings have been here longer than us and could tell a story or two.

    • In Swedish: Gävle is developing urban sustainability

      Nätverket Global Goals for Cities arbetar med Agenda 2030 och de globala målen. Gävle kommun ska tillsammans med 18 andra städer i nätverket under kommande två år skapa och dela kunskap för att utveckla den urbana hållbarheten.

    • Klaipeda Case Study: Virtual hackathon “Unlock SDGs”

      To achieve Agenda 2030 and make sure that we leave no one behind, everyone needs to get involved in the work towards a more sustainable world. Youth continuously are an important factor in this work. The Klaipeda city has Forum of Youth Ambassadors, which is a new body put in place with the hope of creating lasting and strong youth engagement. The forum is designed to generate ideas for the Youth Affairs Council of Klaipėda, which consists of 7 youth representatives and 7 municipal representatives.  This process is in progress according to national law.

    • Mouscron: Story of Transnational Meeting

      On September 28th, the transnational meeting with the co-host cities of Trim, Mouscron and Klaipeda was held by videoconference (thanks to covid…). Nevertheless, it was an opportunity for us to practice our English. 
      Through this activity, we were able to learn more and discover local traditions. We were therefore able to introduce other cities to our customs and to share with them our culture. 

    • URBACT cities join forces in a quest for global sustainability

      A new URBACT network aims to lead the way in delivering on the UN SDGs in cities. Find out why this matters.

    The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 as a universal call of action to protect our planet, end poverty and ensure peace and prosperity for all by 2030. "Global Goals for Cities” is a pilot network and strategic partnership aimed at accelerating progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in 19 cities of the EU, through peer learning and integrated action planning. The partnership is funded through the European Regional Development Fund's URBACT III European Territorial Cooperation program.

    Strategic partnership for peer learning and planning to localise SDGs
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  • Building an effective entrepreneurship eco-system

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    15/11/2022

    How can cities create effective programmes for promoting enterprise and entrepreneurship? How should cities respond to some of the structural changes currently taking place in the business start-up market?

    With an estimated 100 million businesses starting up across the globe annually, an increasing number adopting innovative business models (built, for example, around the ‘sharing’ or ‘gig’ economy) and the number of sole-trader businesses increasing annually, this is clearly a highly active and increasingly disruptive marketplace.

    Among all URBACT Good Practices, Glasgow (co-operative entrepreneurship), Bologna (creative entrepreneurship), Piraeus (marine sector based entrepreneurship); and Barcelona (inclusive entrepreneurship) provide interesting examples on how to create impactful city-wide ‘ecosystems’ for promoting enterprise and entrepreneurship.  

    What are ‘entrepreneurship eco-systems’?

    Articles
    Digital transitions

    ‘Entrepreneurship eco-systems’ are essentially the ‘building blocks’ for stimulating entrepreneurship which can be adapted in a city to create a stronger or lesser environment for fostering entrepreneurship.

    The concept of places needing to think about such eco-systems has been widely developed by Dan Isenberg, the founding executive director of the Babson Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Project and a former professor at the Harvard Business School.

    In his Forbes Magazine article, Isenberg suggests that the place-based ‘entrepreneurial eco-systems’ are made up of the culture of the city; the business enabling policies; the strength of local leadership; the availability of suitable finance for business; the quality of human capital; venture-friendly markets; and a range of institutional and infrastructural support.

    Why ‘entrepreneurship eco-systems’ are becoming increasingly important

    Wider structural changes within society are blurring the traditional boundaries between employment, enterprise and entrepreneurship.

    Shifts in technology, connectivity and the wants and expectations of both employers and employees are creating significant changes to the nature of work and the formal and informal contracts that exist between employer and worker (see, for example, Preparing for the Future of Work, World Economic Forum, 2016).

    These changes are giving rise to a whole new generation of freelancers.

    Overlay on top of these changes some of the wider shifts in society – including slow wage growth, the increasing high-cost of living in some of the world’s major Cities and the growth in the freelancer community – and it’s easy to see how these changes can support the future growth of some of Europe’s smaller and more peripheral cities (for an example, see The Four Trends That Will Change the Way We Work By 2021, Fast Company, 2015).

    These changes are also giving rise to a whole new vocabulary.  Phrases like the ‘independent workforce’ have emerged to describe the range of different contracting relationships that individuals can have with business. The number of solo-entrepreneurs - or ‘solopreneurs’ – is on the rise. Phrases like side-giggers have emerged to describe individuals who work in the sharing economy, whilst also holding down a traditional job, on a part-time basis.

    Udacity, the innovative online education provider that works in partnership with leading tech companies like Google, AT&T, and Facebook has coined the term ‘nano-degree’ and ‘nano-job’ to describe the short-term nature of individuals learning needs and the short-term nature of some work assignments in the tech industry.

    Rethinking traditional employment, enterprise and entrepreneurship programmes is necessary

    With the blurring of lines between employment, enterprise and entrepreneurship, many forward-thinking cities are having to re-think the traditional employability and entrepreneurship programmes they have previously provided for their residents.

    Employability programmes increasingly need to include more content on enterprise and entrepreneurship, to try and support participants to acquire the skills needed to survive in today’s more complex labour market.

    Similarly, Entrepreneurship programmes need to adapt to be better suited to the increasing number of freelancers and sole traders joining their programmes, and to take account of innovative new business models that businesses might adopt. You only have to search for ‘Tools for Solopreneurs’ on the internet to see how fundamentally different their support needs are from more ‘traditional’ businesses.

    But the changes needed are much more widespread than that.

    Ultimately, because of the changing nature of the relationship between employer and individual, cities also need to try to embed a much deeper culture of enterprise in their entire population, to try and ensure that they are equipped with a more independent, resilient and self-reliant outlook and also possess the necessary problem solving, business and creativity skills needed to survive in this new world of work.

    The processes for collaborating with young entrepreneurs has had to become more collaborative and ‘experiential’ than ‘traditional’ start-up programmes – to encompass hackathons, service jams and meet-ups, rather than relying solely on classroom-based training courses and advice sessions.  

    Tips and Tricks from URBACT Good Practices    

    The Good Practices of Glasgow (co-operative entrepreneurship), Bologna (creative entrepreneurship), Piraeus (marine sector based entrepreneurship) and Barcelona (inclusive entrepreneurship) have each taken a different approach to business support, which other cities can take inspiration from.  

    •       Establishing a strong ‘generalist’ support system: Barcelona Activa’s Inclusive Entrepreneurship Good Practice offers a ‘universal’ service that is ‘available for all’ in the city which – between 2004 and 2016 - has supported over 100,000 participants, established over 18,000 companies and created over 32,000 jobs. It operates on the basis of being open to everyone and delivers a mix of online, one-to-many and face-to-face support services to anyone looking to start their own business. In addition, they offer specialist support services for particular nice groups they want to encourage, like women entrepreneurs and people from ‘disadvantaged’ backgrounds.



       
    •        Stimulating social entrepreneurship: Glasgow’s Co-operative City Good Practice has developed a city-wide approach to co-operative development, which is building new partnerships between public services and local people to foster greater co-design and delivery of local services and giving a wider group of residents of the city a direct experience of running, or being a shareholder in a social enterprise. The scale of the reach that Glasgow’s programme has achieved is impressive, helping local residents think about how social entrepreneurship can support their community to tackle local challenges. Stimulating social entrepreneurship in communities to help people overcome particular challenges can help individuals gain the experience of running a business, without necessarily having to carry all of the risk
      (because they are working in partnership with others).



       
    •        Supporting creative & cultural industries: Bologna’s IncrediBOL! Creative Innovation Good Practice programme provides a range of tailored support to creative businesses to support them to start up, has received over 500 applications over the last 7 years, supported over 80 businesses, which have a survival rate of 81%. The methodology for delivering support to businesses that apply to the programme is through a widely publicised business plan competition, which has been particularly successful in stimulating creative business ideas from the market, and investing in successful projects which have built the cultural fabric of the city (further building Bologna’s reputation as a cultural hotspot and attracting more creative talent).



       
    •        Building on your cities sector strengths and strategic assets: Piraeus’ Blue Growth Good Practice is a programme, which seeks to stimulate the growth of innovation and entrepreneurship in the marine sector in Piraeus. It seeks to strengthen and build upon some of the sectoral specialisms and strategic (topographic) assets of the city. As a sector based innovation programme, it also works around a business plan competition, supporting successful applicants to start-up.

    The four Good Practices also share a number of key characteristics, that make them stand out as Good Practice entrepreneurship programmes, namely;

    •        Their high levels of awareness / deep market reach: All of these programmes have managed to reach deeply into their target communities and create a high level of awareness and interest in their programmes, inspiring and making possible the aspirations of fledgling entrepreneurs. Achieving high-levels of awareness and market reach is important to drive up demand for entrepreneurship and help people understand where they can get support.

       
    •        Their approach to supporting entrepreneurs to grow their business. All of these programmes offer tailored and bespoke support to the people that go through their programmes, connecting them to the specialist support they need to succeed and/or stimulating other important components of the eco-system of support, to ensure aspiring entrepreneurs have access to the help they need to grow their business;

       
    •        Their work on stimulating a strong enterprise culture in their city. All 4 Good Practices also focus on trying to stimulate a change in the enterprise culture of their cities, by working in partnership with a range of stakeholders and agencies in their cities to widely promote the benefits of entrepreneurship.

    Creating successful entrepreneurial eco-systems requires a whole-system approach

    What these four Good Practices demonstrate is how creating a widespread change in the enterprise culture of a city can be a complex and challenging task, that requires strong leadership from city administrations, highly effective partnerships and the stimulation of crowd actions through an ‘ecosystem’ approach (for an explanation of eco-system thinking, see ‘What I Learned from Trying to Innovate at the New York Times’, John Geraci, April 2016) 

    A city cannot just focus on delivering one or two great entrepreneurship programmes targeted on a few niche sectors of the community, but needs to ‘conduct’ the market like the conductor in an orchestra - to incentivise behaviour change amongst communities, individuals, agencies, influencers and sub-cultures, to try and achieve an overall change in the macro-culture of the city.

    In addition to considering the whole-system, it is also important to think about the way different programmes incentivise people to think about starting their own business and how these programmes work together as part of a coherent customer proposition.

    In adopting the approach used by the URBACT Good Practices, other cities can create powerful support ‘systems’, which could work together to inspire and make possible the aspirations of their entrepreneurial residents.

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  • Cities and digitalisation: “Adapt or die”

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    15/11/2022

    How can cities benefit from digitalisation?  With dramatic headlines about jobs being destroyed by digitalisation, and many policy makers resisting change, Alison Partridge argues that the 4th industrial revolution, and industry 4.0, are best seen as an opportunity, not a threat, for Europe's towns and cities.

    First, some definitions…

    For many this is a complex, unfamiliar and somewhat bewildering landscape. So here are a few explanations of key terms before delving deeper.

    Articles
    Digital transitions

    4th industrial revolution

    This phrase was coined by Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, in his book of the same title. “Previous industrial revolutions liberated humankind from animal power, made mass production possible and brought digital capabilities to billions of people. This Fourth Industrial Revolution is, however, fundamentally different. It is characterized by a range of new technologies that are fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds, impacting all disciplines, economies and industries, and even challenging ideas about what it means to be human. The resulting shifts and disruptions mean that we live in a time of great promise and great peril.

    Industry 4.0

    Mckinsey defines industry 4.0. as “the next phase in the digitization of the manufacturing sector, driven by four disruptions: the astonishing rise in data volumes, computational power, and connectivity, especially new low-power wide-area networks; the emergence of analytics and business-intelligence capabilities; new forms of human-machine interaction such as touch interfaces and augmented-reality systems; and improvements in transferring digital instructions to the physical world, such as advanced robotics and 3-D printing” - Source: University of Sheffield

    Digital disruption

    "Digital disruption is a transformation that is caused by emerging digital technologies and business models. These innovative new technologies and models can impact the value of existing products and services offered in the industry. This is why the term ‘disruption’ is used, as the emergence of these new digital products/services/businesses disrupts the current market and causes the need for re-evaluation" - Source: Oxford College of Marketing

    Why is this relevant to cities? Keep reading...

    To take the mantra of the URBACT network TechTown - cities and businesses need to adapt or die:

    Digitalisation is happening. It's often described as an 'unstoppable juggernaut'. Most businesses really don’t have a choice. They can choose to change nothing and risk fragility and, in the long term, almost inevitably die. OR they can be proactive, adaptive, disruptive, agile and hopefully that will enable them to survive and thrive. It really is as simple as that. Disruption is only a threat to those who choose to ignore it or try to fight it. Those who embrace it find that it can benefit their business in lots of different ways and contribute success and growth.

    Cities have a clear role to play supporting the business community. If their businesses can't or won't adapt, city economies will suffer: companies will go out of business and jobs will be lost.

    “But isn’t it destroying jobs?!”

    Digitalisation is not the same as automation. Automation is a start. Using information from automated processes is where digitalisation kicks in and starts to reap rewards.

    Digitalisation is not about reducing headcount or destroying jobs. It is more helpful to think of it as removing non-value-adding tasks or roles. This enables humans to focus on the parts of the business that add value. So yes, it will have a massive impact on the future workforce, and yes, there is much to be done to explore how the existing workforce can be effectively redeployed rather than unemployed. But that is a whole other topic - touched upon in URBACT's own Job Generation and New Urban Economies Capitalisation series.

    Here the focus is more on the role of cities in digitalisation itself.

    So why is digitalisation important to cities?

    The most cited examples of digital disruption are often the least helpful when it comes to considering the potential positive impacts on urban development. Uber and Airbnb, for example, may have revolutionised peoples' ability to travel within and between cities, but they have also provided real challenges in urban development terms, for instance increasing rental prices and often adversely affecting employment conditions for citizens. URBACT has published articles on this topic - focusing for example on the role of cities in the sharing economy and the gig economy.

    A number of more positive examples of digital disruption and public sector interventions were highlighted at the TechTown network event in Gävle, Sweden, in June 2017. They show how digitalisation can help address long-term economic challenges like productivity levels, business efficiency and logistics.

    Here are three examples of public sector interventions within digital disruption:

    KickStart, run by a national cluster called Fiber Optic Valley, is a pilot project covering 10 Swedish Cities. Funded by both the public and private sectors, the overall aim is to increase the understanding, willingness, pace and volume of digitalisation.

    The pilot project works with 10 companies in 10 cities. Over the course of 4-6 weeks the companies invest 2 days (1 full day + 2 x half days) in workshop activities to understand how digitalisation can help them to increase productivity and efficiency. The emphasis is very much upon helping the companies to identify their problems - their needs - rather than leaping towards a solution. In 90% of cases the tech solution exists; in the other 10% there is a start up eager to find it - so this is as much about changing mindsets as it is about the technology itself. Often there is a reasonably simple 'fix' and Kickstart can play a useful role in brokering relationships between companies that have an identified need and those that have already found a solution.
     

    With the pilot project proving to be very popular with business, and reaping tangible rewards in terms of productivity and efficiency, there is now a plan to roll the programme out across 100 Swedish towns and cities.
     

    • Connected Manufacturing

    In 2017, Barnsley Council, leaders of the TechTown network, launched a programme to support digitalisation of existing local manufacturing companies while enabling digital companies to grow. “Connected Manufacturing” brings the manufacturing and digital communities together to encourage adoption of digital technologies that can improve manufacturing productivity and competitiveness. This is especially important given that advanced manufacturing is a key industrial sector across much of Europe.

    A trusted Barnsley business advisor with a manufacturing background, supported by an independent digital consultant, visited local manufacturers, many of which were family run firms using old mechanical equipment. The advisors helped the manufacturers to identify their industrial challenges and find ways to improve operational efficiency through digital changes that were often small and inexpensive. The findings fed into a big event which brought manufacturers face-to-face with small digital start ups, SMEs and entrepreneurs.

    • Case study

    Naylor Industries in South Yorkshire, UK, is a fourth-generation family business with a 127-year history. The company has five factories that manufacture construction products, such as clay pipes and plastic drainage systems, for export around the world. Facing global economic uncertainty and rising energy costs, as a large energy user Naylor realised they needed to change. They formed an internal action team and partnered with Siemens Digital Factory to analyse the power usage at their factory sites. Seeing the benefits of real-time data to inform operations and production, Naylor is now digitally enabling their new and existing facilities for an intelligent data-driven future.



    Event programme and presentations

    Everybody wins - brokering relationships between large and small companies

    Sandvik is a global materials engineering company with headquarters in the Gävleborg region in Sweden. Last year it worked with a 'business tailor' from the regional incubator (Movexum – co-funded by local and regional government and a range of private partners) to identify its digitalisation needs. In short the Sandvik site covers a massive industrial area equivalent in size to 800 football pitches. Sandvik was keen to understand how digitalisation might help move materials more efficiently into, and around, the site. Movexum put Sandvik in touch with a local tech start up called Invotech. As a result, the two companies co-created a new GPS system which supports truck drivers and management with the positioning of materials. The impact has been massive for both companies - Sandvik has improved safety and productivity; and Invotech has won a large new industrial client and a gateway into a global market place, not to mention unrivalled PR and media exposure.

    None of this would have happened without the intermediary, funded through the public sector - in this case a regional incubator.

    So what role can cities play?

    Hopefully by now it is becoming clearer that urban economies are being impacted by digitalisation. But what does this mean for cities in practice? Realistically, what can cities do to make sure that their businesses can benefit from digitalisation?

    • Messenger

    Cities can reach out to their business community - who are as much their customers as individual citizens - and help remove the 'fear' of disruption and digitalisation. This might involve helping them to understand what opportunities it offers in terms of efficiencies and productivity and / or to learn from peers who have already risen to the challenge.

    • Broker and enabler

    It is clear from the examples above that cities may have a role to play in funding, or directly employing, an honest broker, a navigator or catalyst which brings together large and small companies to benefit both partners and the local economy. Cities can also help established companies to identify their digitalisation needs and find tech start ups , preferably local ones, to address them. 90% of the time the tech solution exists; in the other 10% there is a start up eager to find it. So this brokerage role can help companies to come together to co-create ‘win-win’ relationships between large and small. It can also help peer-to-peer learning - cities can identify and share good local examples of positive digital disruption and stop policy makers focusing on some of the better known disruptive brands like Uber and AirBnB.

    There is also a brokerage role around the theme of skills and talent - local authorities can, for example, support companies to identify local talent and embed digital skills into local training provision for people of all ages.

    • Early adopter

    Cities can - and probably should - lead from the front when it comes to digitalisation. It may not seem obvious - and it certainly won't be easy - but city authorities can ‘walk the talk’ by working with local tech start ups to disrupt and digitalise the provision of public services. They can also run challenge-based competitions to encourage local start ups to address smart city challenges.

    • Adapt or die

    The message is clear and TechTown cities have used their Action Planning Network to consider their margins of manoeuvre in what is essentially a business-led landscape: How can city authorities help their business community to rise to the challenge of digitalisation? (How) can they support businesses to treat this as an opportunity to improve productivity and grow higher value jobs? What is the role of the public sector?

    The emerging action plans call for a more proactive approach to supporting local business, based on the learning from cities which are already doing so. TechTown cities know that digitalisation will revolutionise their economies. They will be doing everything they can to contribute to a positive outcome: more and better jobs for local people.

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