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  • BluAct

    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 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.

    BluAct TN logo
    BluAct logo - Blue Cities in Action
    Starting up the Blue Economy
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  • Nine solutions for more vibrant, productive cities

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    These local actions for community participation and productivity are inspiring cities across the EU. Could they work in yours too?


    The New Leipzig Charter highlights three forms of the transformative city which can be harnessed in Europe to enhance people’s quality of life: the Just City, the Green City and the Productive City.

    URBACT’s latest publication is packed with sustainable solutions to address these three dimensions – all tried, tested and transferred between EU cities, with adaptations for each local context.

    To give a taste of the stories told in ‘Good Practice Transfer: Why not in my City?’, here are nine examples of local actions for Productive Cities. We hope towns and cities of all sizes will be inspired to ‘Understand, Adapt and Re-use’ participative solutions like this – from education and entrepreneurship to efficient governance and better use of urban spaces – improving everyday life for residents, and supporting a just transition to a green economy.


    1. Give citizens a card for local services

    To simplify everyday life in Aveiro (PT), the municipality got together with stakeholders to launch a card that will give citizens easy access to public services such as the library, museum, buses and shared bikes, as well as improved online and front desk support. A first step was to issue a student card to access school services across the city, from stationery and meals, to school trips. The idea is to promote a smarter, more open, resilient and inclusive society. Aveiro and four other URBACT partner cities are introducing their local versions of ‘CARD4ALL’ based on good practice from Gijón, a Spanish city that has provided citizen cards for nearly 20 years.


    2. Put residents’ wellbeing at the heart of urban regeneration

    In a project to bring an old playing field back into use, Birmingham (UK) gave local people the power to drive improvements themselves, thanks to a Community Economic Development Planning model, mirroring successful approaches already used in Łódź (PL). Building on this positive start, residents went on to co-produce an alternative Community-Led Master Plan for the wider area — where all council plans had previously been opposed. Council-appointed community ‘ambassadors’ now work with local residents, businesses, service providers and volunteers with a direct stake in the area’s economic health. And the approach is being rolled out across other areas of the city. Birmingham is one of six cities to learn from Łódź’ collaborative model as part of the URBAN REGENERATION MIX network.


    3. Create a digital business hub with a local twist 

    The Greek city of Piraeus founded a new ‘Blue Lab’ near its harbour — the first Blue Economy Innovation Centre in Greece. Equipped with state-of-the-art technology, Blue Lab welcomes students and entrepreneurs, providing business mentoring, tech and entrepreneurship training. It has boosted cooperation with businesses and schools, and sparked an array of prototype technology solutions. Piraeus’ further plans now include a new larger co-working space, training facilities to upskill the workforce, and investment in more advanced technologies. Piraeus is one of six URBACT Tech Revolution network partner cities to set up their own start-up support schemes based on the Digital Media Centre in Barnsley (UK), an URBACT-listed Good Practice that has become a successful hub for local creative and digital business.


    4. Build local partnerships around education

    By involving parents, school staff, local clubs and council departments in ‘Educational Innovation Networks’ (EIN), the city of Halmstad (SE) is boosting local connections and sparking improvements in education. Thanks to the URBACT ON BOARD network, Halmstad learnt from Viladecans (ES) who originally formed an EIN to improve education as part of a drive to reverse rising unemployment and declining growth. Halmstad adopted new ideas, including ‘Positive Mindset and Emotions’ for better learning and methods for improving pupil participation. Communication within the municipality also improved thanks to cross-departmental clusters focusing on: Care and Support; Education and Learning; Growth and Attractiveness; and Infrastructure.


    5. Open a ‘living room’ for local clubs and residents

    Idrija (SI) transformed an empty shop into a ‘living room’ for the town, with free activities run by, and for, local associations and inhabitants. City administrators, social services and economic departments, local clubs and active citizens, are all involved in the project, as well as the regional development agency, library and retirement home. As a result, the site has become a meeting place open to all, with events focusing on topics as diverse as housing refurbishment, chess, and knitting. It also hosts a municipality-supported free transport service for elderly people and a book corner run by the local library. Idrija’s solution was modelled on the ‘Stellwerk’ NGO platform launched in Altena (DE) as a solution to help manage the town’s long-term decline.


    6. Turn unused buildings into homes

    Chemnitz’s (DE) ‘Housing Agency for Shrinking Cities’ helps transform empty buildings into valuable housing while reducing speculation, channeling grant money, and cutting future costs for both the owners of decaying buildings and the municipality. Initiated and funded by the city authorities, the project is carried out in the public interest by a long-standing private partner. This model inspired Vilafranca del Penedès (ES), partner in the URBACT ALT/BAU network, to review its housing policies and look for private partners with the technical capacity and financial solvency to help the city recover abandoned housing units. As a result, Vilafranca has signed an agreement with a social foundation whose main objective is to identify, obtain and rehabilitate low-priced rental housing in collaboration with job agencies.


    7. Launch a blue entrepreneurship competition (for cities near water!) 

    The port city of Mataró (ES) is boosting local entrepreneurship and jobs in the maritime economy – inspired by a BlueGrowth initiative in Piraeus (EL). Mataró encouraged diverse public and private stakeholders to get involved, including the City Promotion team, regional ‘Barcelona Nautic Cluster’, local port authority, and a technology park that hosts the University and a business incubator. The resulting Mataró Blue Growth Entrepreneurship competition provides cash prizes, mentoring and access to a business accelerator programme. So far winning projects include a boat repair franchise, a boat propulsion system, and an app linking up superyachts with relevant services.


    8. Help city employees become innovators

    When Turin (IT) teamed up with private sponsors to launch a competition inviting 10 000 municipal staff to submit innovative ideas for improving the administration's performance, winning proposals included solutions for improving community participation, smart procurement, and lighting in public buildings. This inspired Rotterdam (NL) and five other cities in the URBACT Innovato-R network to draw on Turin’s experience to boost innovation and process improvement in their own cities. As a result, Rotterdam took a fresh approach with its existing innovation network of over 1 800 civil servants and 500 external stakeholders, strengthening links with businesses and academics, introducing new online ‘inspiration sessions’, and co-designing a new innovation platform.


    9. Harness the power of public spending 

    Koszalin (PL) analysed the city’s procurement spending and is using the resulting evidence to shape public procurement practices in order to benefit the local economy, while taking into account social and environmental factors. To do so, they used a spend analysis tool that was originally developed by Preston (UK) and transferred to six EU cities via the URBACT Making Spend Matter network. Koszalin also started working more closely with key ‘anchor institutions’ in the city, such as the hospital and university, exploring how much they spend, and where that money goes geographically. Meanwhile, they improved support for local SME participation in public procurement.


    Find out more about these and many more sustainable city solutions – in the new URBACT publication ‘Good Practice Transfer: Why not in my City?’.

    Visit the Good Practice database for more inspiration.


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  • Sparking new blue business in a coastal city


    The up and rise of the Blue Growth Entrepreneurship Competition

    Angel Remacha
    Director of Economic Promotion
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    Mataró has sought to develop further the development of its blue economy sector by transferring the practice Piraeus of a Blue Growth Initiative. While identifying and bringing together all the relevant local stakeholders, securing funding and adequate awards, it developed the local use Workshops, Demo Days, mentoring, incubating and business acceleration for start-uppers and new entrepreneurs.

    Solutions offered by the good practice

    Mataró has the largest port between Barcelona and France. Despite its four beaches, port, boat repair yard, and university maritime courses for students from around the world, the city has historically ‘lived with its back to the sea’. Mataró had an annual entrepreneurship awards programme - ‘Cre@tic’ - but nothing specific on the blue economy.

    The Municipality wanted to promote a more nautical culture, and related business opportunities. They had a broad plan to harness the potential of the city’s key assets, to give the port a more positive role in the city’s future economic development and to cooperate on a maritime strategy with neighbouring municipalities. The foundations for this project were laid in the ‘Sea in Value’ project, which sought to promote a nautical culture, develop the blue economy and open the city to the sea.

    In this context, Mataró saw BluAct as a good opportunity to learn from other European cities and contribute to their activities stimulating entrepreneurship and new jobs in the blue economy.

    After having identified its ULG members (see below), Mataró reinforced connections with the private sector thanks to activities such as university-based ‘entrepreneur hours’, mentoring schemes, and funds for small pilot projects.

    The Municipality created a new Blue Growth Entrepreneurship competition, building on the 20 years of knowledge and experience of the existing annual entrepreneurship awards programme. The project was coordinated and promoted locally by the municipality’s  City Promotion team, with the constant support of the technical experts in entrepreneurship of TecnoCampus.

    Sustainable and integrated urban approach

    Mataro focused its activities on the development of new economic businesses (products and services) in the blue economy, with a specific stress on being circular and with a reduced environmental footprint. Moreover, the activities sought to develop job and business development, with a strong social added value.

    Participatory approach

    Mataró started its whole project by identifying diverse stakeholders working with blue growth, innovation and entrepreneurship, bringing them together for the first time in an URBACT Local Group. The group was formed with members of the Quadruple Helix, drawn from public administration, education, export associations, environmental organisations, citizens and business, they include: the dynamic regional ‘Barcelona Nautic Cluster’; Mataró Port Authority; Barcelona Provincial Government; and the technology park TecnoCampus, which includes the University and a business incubator. The work of the URBACT Local Group was crucial in building local awareness and professional relationships in support of the blue economy.

    What difference has it made

    The municipality was able to secure EUR 4 000 from the Mataró Port Consortium and EUR 2 000 from the Barcelona Provincial Government to provide cash prizes and cover marketing and promotion costs. In addition, TecnoCampus offered its high quality mentoring and business accelerator programme free of charge (valued at €1,000 for each of three winner projects).

    In March 2020, during the Demo Day, three winning ideas were selected from seven high-quality applications. An award ceremony took place in June, with mentoring and incubation provided from July 2020 to February 2021. Top prize went to the first Spanish nautical workshop franchise for the refit and repair of boats. Second, an online application facilitating communication between superyachts, management companies, refit shipyards and contractors. And in third place, an environmentally friendly and quiet electric boat propulsion system.

    Transferring the practice

    Mataró was directly inspired by Piraeus’ good practice, but also flexible in its implementation. Having drawn up a Transfer Plan to adopt Piraeus’ practice - and guided by the network’s Lead Expert - Mataró worked with commercial sponsors and adjusted plans to take account of various local negotiations and administrative procedures.

    The result was a similar blue entrepreneurship competition, but with a local twist. For example, Mataró took its own competition a step further than the original by offering applicants small amounts of prize funding (€4,000 donated by Mataró’s Port) to help kickstart their business ideas.

    With its partners, the city has developed a strong foundation programme which it plans to build on, maintaining the Blue Growth Competition as an annual or biennial event.

    Mataró is also now considering the feasibility of supporting a broader range of aspiring entrepreneurs, with more events such as hackathons and workshops focused on generating new ideas and projects in the seed phase.

    Is a transfer practice
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  • Cities engaging in the right to housing

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    Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) and URBACT are joining forces on housing!


    Throughout 2020, UIA and URBACT have explored how cities can design housing policies and practical solutions to implement the right to housing.


    We have collected stories and concrete examples from European cities already implementing the right to housing that others can take inspiration from.

    Three questions were leading this work:

    • What are the most innovative practices at city level concretely delivering the right to housing?
    • What can cities do to ensure that everyone – particularly the most disadvantaged groups - have access to safe, adequate and affordable housing?
    • How can the EU and member States create an enabling environment for cities to innovate?

    The ultimate goal is to push the agenda on the right to housing EU wide and to further enrich the work done by the EU Urban Agenda.

    The launch of the joint initiative happended during the Cities Forum on 31 January 2020. Experimenting new housing models and governance structures, designing strategies for those locked out of the housing market, and implementing anti-speculation measures were some of the main themes arising from the discussions regarding the role of municipalities.

    Webinar series


    A series of webinars and more digital outputs were delivered on the following themes:


    Save-the-date for our webinars

    Community-led practices: cooperative, co-housing and CLT practices

    24 April 2020

    No one left behind: addressing specific issues of accessibility to adequate housing by vulnerable groups

    26 June 2020

    Fair finance : municipal strategies protecting housing from speculation

    19 November 2020

    An additional session was organised during the European Week on How to implement the Right to Housing in Covid times.

    Beyond the cities working with UIA and URBACT on this topic, the success of this knowledge activity relies on the contribution of key stakeholders representing housing practitioners, administrations, EU wide organisations, academia and civil society initiatives. 

    To receive more information and get involved, click here.


    More activities are planned for 2021. Videos, podcasts and more inspiring content will be available through a new platform soon to be launched.


    If you have any questions, you can contact:

    Amélie Cousin,
    Alice Fauvel,


    Interested in the topic? Click here to read the article written by Laura Colini, Programme Expert coordinating the joint activity!

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