• Get ready for the Innovation Transfer Networks!

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    The new URBACT call builds on almost a decade of experience supporting the transfer of effective urban solutions.

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    From urbact

    From 10 January to 20 March 2024, URBACT is running a call for the next generation of Innovation Transfer Networks (ITNs). These networks aim to transfer projects that were funded under Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) to other cities across the EU, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia.  

    What’s in it for cities?


    Through the ITNs, it’s up to the cities who received UIA funding from 2016 to 2023 to act as Lead Partners and to transfer their experience, know-how and advice to cities interested in implementing a similar project. Using the URBACT transfer methodology – Understand, Adapt and Re-use – project partners will create a deeper, three-dimensional understanding of the UIA original practice. Ultimately, the cities in these networks will improve their capacity to design innovative solutions in an integrated and participatory way and identify funding for implementation.

    Listen to experts Eddy Adams and Matthew Baqueria-Jackson discuss the Understand, Adapt, Reuse method:

    Over a two-year period, through an organised process of exchange and learning among peers, the project partners will work together to develop a tailor-made investment plan for the implementation of the innovation project. This will be done with the support of URBACT experts and anchored by a group of local stakeholders in each city (URBACT Local Group) that gathers different profiles from within and outside the local administration. 

    In a nutshell, cities involved in this type of networks should expect… 

    ITN - what to expect


    Putting innovation transfer to the test


    Replicating innovation is never easy, but between 2021 and 2022, five pilot innovation transfer networks were tasked with testing the URBACT transfer method. Twenty cities in total were involved in these five networks, each one of them led by a city who had implemented an UIA project. 

    The pilot’s final evaluation proved the URBACT transfer method to be successful, shedding light on some important points to consider:

    •    Breaking down the UIA practice

    A transferable project is one that can be easily modularised. UIA projects are large, complex strategic interventions designed for a specific territory. While wholesale transfer is a rarity, it helps if you can break it down into its core parts. In most of the pilot networks, partners had a pre-defined list of components, which enabled them to select those that would work best in different local contexts. An analysis of the assets and barriers, produced by the network expert, helped guide these choices.

    For instance, Rotterdam (NL) was able to adapt an investment plan developed by Birmingham (UK) through the USE-IT! network. Rotterdam customised tools and methods in Birmingham’s investment plan to support the development of a procurement hub for neighbourhood work-cooperatives. Involvement in USE-IT! has also had a profound impact upon partnership working in Rotterdam with enhanced relationships between the Municipality, the Voor Goed Agency that promotes social entrepreneurship, and the Social Impact Fond Rotterdam.

    Nevertheless, there are risks that come with modularising. It may be challenging for partners to fully understand each component and reject one or more potentially impactful modules. To mitigate this, most networks offered the option of modules, but included amongst these one which all partners would agree to transfer. 

    ●    Building back up

    The point has already been made about the importance of chunking up large strategic innovation projects. Think of it like an engineer, dismantling a machine to better understand how all the component parts work – so long as you remember where everything goes when you reassemble it! 

    This approach is also helpful when transfer partners do not have the scale of funding available. They can pick those elements which they are confident of being able to finance. The risk to be aware of here is that partners may select elements which are easier, or cheaper, and potentially less innovative.


    Stepping stones on the transfer path


    The URBACT transfer method is composed of different milestones that pave the way to the transfer. The first important milestone is the transferability study. This is composed of information, data, and figures around the topic of the UIA project that are gathered following visits to each network city and with discussions with the city administration, elected officials but also other relevant stakeholders outside the city administration. All the data gathered and analysed constitute a baseline for each city, but they also indicate the transfer potential of each city, with strengths and weaknesses that need to be further worked on. This transferability study becomes the reference for the way forward in terms of network activities and learning points before the actual transfer. 

    Other milestones include capacity-building activities organised by the URBACT Secretariat, trainings with tools or thematic sessions and events like the URBACT City Festival which is a source of inspiration for cities. 

    Finally, the main tangible result of each project partner is an investment plan that features all the necessary resources and steps to follow for the implementation of the UIA practice (partly or fully). 


    Show me the money


    Transferring innovative urban solutions is very rarely a copy-and-paste process. A degree of adaptation and reuse is still needed for genuine transformation. Reuse requires resources – people, plans and, most crucially, funding.

    A new feature for the upcoming networks, cities will also have the possibility of testing actions with a small budget before including them in the investment plan.

    At the end of the five pilot networks, more than three-quarters of partners said that they would transfer at least 50% of the original UIA innovation concept. The survey also showed that 15% of the partners already had secured funds for this, whilst almost half were confident that their transfer plans would be funded by the time the pilot concluded. 


    So, where do you sign up?


    If this article has whetted your appetite, then you might like to know how your city can get involved. 

    If you are a city interested in becoming a transfer partner, you can connect here from 10 January and find the necessary resources on how you can apply by 20 March 2024.  

    And don’t forget to sign up for the URBACT newsletter and follow us @URBACT to get updates. 

    We look forward to welcoming you to the URBACT community, 

    The URBACT team


    Special thanks to Eddy Adams for bringing together the findings of the evaluation of the previous pilot networks in this article.






    Lead Partner : Bilbao - Spain
    • Bielsko-Biala - Poland
    • Tartu - Estonia
    • Timisoara - Romania



    •  Transnational Network Meeting - Bilbao Kick-off Meeting (07/01-07/02)
    • Transnational Network Meeting - Tartu (10/28-10/29)



    • Transnational Network Meeting - Bielsko-Biala (01/21)
    • Transnational Network Meeting - Timisoara (05/11-05/13)

    More about AS Fabrik

    Euronews showcases in this video Bilbao As Fabrik as an example of service-based technology for an improved industrial sector.


    The AS Fabrik Transfer Mechanism pilot seeks to share the experience of Bilbao in the AS FABRIK Urban Innovative Actions project  with other European cities, which want to meet the ultimate approaches in the field of the smart specialisation in Industry 4.0 and digital economy. AS FABRIK was conceived to increase the competitiveness of the local KIBS sector and to prepare them to supply the digital transformation demands of the manufacturing sector. An strategic alliance based on knowledge and innovation that aims to improve the local ecosystems of cities, with city businesses, universities, local service providers and entrepreneurs hosted in a tailor-made innovative space.

    Smart specialisation towards industrial digital transformation
    Ref nid



    Lead Partner : Turin - Italy
    • Budapest - Hungary
    • Gdańsk - Poland
    • Cluj-Napoca - Romania


    • Launch of pilot network (03/09)/21
    • Kick-off Meeting (05/10)
    • 1-TNM-Kick-off meeting - Virtual (08/01)
    • Boot Camp in Ljubljana (SI) (09/06)
    • Kick-off meeting (09/08)
    • Kick-off meeting (09/13)
    • Kick off meeting (09/14)
    • Gdańsk Meeting (09/16)
    • Kick off meeting (09/17)
    • Kick-off meeting (September), Transnational Meeting (November) (09/21)
    • SEPTEMBER / Kick-off meeting (hybrid event) (09/22)
    • Thematic Transfer meeting in Osijek (HR) (11/08)
    • NOVEMBER 2021 / Ocean Hachathon in Boulogne sur Mer (11/10)
    • Budapest Meeting (11/25)
    • Algeciras Transnational Meeting (12/15)
    • 2-TNM-Grosuplie (Slovenia) - Virtual (12/16)
    • JANUARY 2022 / TNM#2 / Location: Metaverse (01/26)/22
    • 3-TNM-Jelgava (Latvia) - Virtual (02/11)
    • Cluj-Napoca Meeting (02/21)
    • Thematic Transfer meeting in Bansko (BG) (03/21)
    • MARCH 2022 / TNM#3 / Boulogne sur mer, France (03/22)
    • Carlow Transnational Meeting (05/04)
    • World Play Day 2022 (05/28)
    • Thematic Transfer meeting in Bergamo (IT) (06/06)
    • JUNE 2022 / TNM#4 / Koper, Slovenia (06/22)
    • Alexandroupolis Transnational Meeting (06/30)
    • Torino Meeting (06/30)
    • 4-TNM-Igualada (Spain) - In presence (07/07)
    • Thematic Transfer meeting in Sosnowiec (PL) (09/26)
    • Split Transnational Meeting (09/28)
    • Transnational Meetings (April, June, September), Final Event (December) (10/14)
    • Final Conference in Ljubljana (SI) (10/24)
    • RU:RBAN 2nd Wave Final Event in Rome (11/09)

    CO4CITIES is the UIA - URBACT Transfer Mechanism pilot network that transfers the methodological structure of UIA CO-CITY: the Regulation on collaboration between citizens' organizations and the Municipality in the co-management of urban commons; the Pact of collaboration, a legal tool providing for a change of attitude in the public/communities relationship; the essential role of Community Hubs in the process of community empowerment and in the path of building a new collaborative approach between the citizens and the public administration.

    Collaborative Tools for Cities in Urban Regeneration
    Ref nid


    Lead Partner : Milan - Italy
    • Stara Zagora - Bulgaria
    • Almere - Netherlands
    • Vila Nova de Gaia - Portugal



    • Kick off meeting online
    • Next Agri Bilateral meeting Almere - online
    • Next Agri Bilateral Meeting Vila Nova de Gaia - online
    • Next Agri Bilateral meeting Stara Zagora - online
    • First transnational meeting in Almere - online
    • Second transnational meeting in Stara Zagora - online
    • Third Transnational Meeting in Vila Nova de Gaia
    • Field visit to Milan
    • Transnational meeting and field visit in Almere

    • NEXT AGRI site visit

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    • UTM capacity building meeting in Paris

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    • NEXT AGRI - visit to Vila Nova Gaia (PT)

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    The NEXT AGRI UIA - URBACT Transfer Mechanism pilot network builds from the experience of Milan. The city decided to set up an urban coalition with a series of partners to scale up this positioning in the peri-urban agricultural industry, setting up a stable growth and creating new jobs and skills. The project is mainly an urban policy experimentation that follows the place-based approach, focusing on new skills for new jobs in peri-urban agriculture. The project area can be defined as an “urban fringe”, representing the transition zone between the consolidated part of the city and the agricultural lands.This project aims at transfer to other 3 cities the processes and strategies implemented to create a favourable environment to develop new opportunities in the food system transformation in the urban and per urban agriculture sector.


    Innovative approaches in periurban agriculture territories
    Ref nid
  • USE-IT

    LEAD PARTNER Birmingham
    • Poznań - Poland
    • Rotterdam - Netherlands
    • Trapani - Italy



    Larger capital projects in poor neighbourhoods often do not lead to an improvement in the socio-economic situation of the local population. The USE-IT UIA - URBACT Transfer Mechanism pilot network shares a tested approach that directly links the realisation of larger capital projects - here construction of a new hospital - with the improvement of the socio-economic situation of the population based on the existing local community skills, talents and ideas.

    Unlocking social and economic innovation together
    Ref nid

    LEAD PARTNER : Viladecans - Spain
    • Trikala - Greece
    • Seraing - Belgium
    • Nagykanizsa - Hungary



    Political Meeting (20/04/2021)


    Kick-off Meeting - TM1 (05/05/2021)


    Transnational Meeting 2 - Seraing (06/07/2021 & 08/07/2021)


    Transnational Meeting 3 - Nagykanizsa (16/11/2021 - 18/11/2021) 




    Transnational Meeting 4 - Trikala (02/03/2022 - 03/03/2022)


    Deep Dive visit to Viladecans (05/07/2022 - 06/07/2022)


    Final Event in Viladecans (18/10/2022 - 19/10/2022) 

    Final product


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