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Stories from the project’s side

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The first wave of UIA projects approved under the 1st Call for Proposals are now up and running and they have started to effectively launch and implement their activities. Take a look at the stories they sent us about their past three months!

Almost all UIA projects have now held their public launch event with all project partners, and the active participation of local politicians. The CorDEES project in Paris was officially launched in presence of the Vice-Mayor on 31 May. Before that, 50 professionals of 20 companies had already gathered in March to discuss and launch the Urban New Deal, a multiplayer energy governance system which will be implemented in the Batignolles eco-district. In Pozzuoli, the Mayor attended the launch event of MAC project on 16 March, and the seven project partners presented the innovative aspect of the project to a wider audience and their solutions to rethink municipal and agricultural areas. During their first partner meeting held in April in Gothenburg, all partners of the FED project discussed issues such as the design of their energy market place or the choice of the best business model. The aim of FED is to develop and test an innovative district level energy system at the campus of Chalmers University of Technology. Researchers from Chalmers have already started their simulations to analyze the effects of different technical solutions. Finally, the launch event of the Co-City project was organized in Turin on 31st March. The project intends to improve the participation and the engagement of citizens in different parts of the City through “pacts of collaboration” in order to regenerate abandoned or underused buildings and fight social and spatial exclusion. During the launch event, international experts from Amsterdam, Athens and Barcelona shared their visions on the promotion of the participation of residents and the management of commons.

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Discussion corner in Turin for the launch of Co-City project

The preparation phase of the AS-FABRIK project in Bilbao is now finalized, and the project, which will set up a collaborative ecosystem including the City, universities, entrepreneurs and businesses in order to accompanythe digital transformation of their industrial sector, received strong support from the Councillor for Economic Development, Commerce and Employment, who described it in this article as a very promising public-private Initiative.

Sharing experience with other policy-makers at national and European level is one of the aspects of a UIA project, and the Urban Development Network of the European Commission will be a key mechanism to achieve this. Barcelona presented the MINCOME project to 70 other Spanish cities at a peer-review workshop organized by UDN. The aim of this workshop was to encourage cities to share and exchange about their sustainable urban strategies, and Barcelona described the innovative solution they had set up to experiment different formats of  guaranteed minimum income in the deprived neighborhood of Besos.

In order to start implementing their activities, several UIA projects are setting up internal working groups among their partners to establish creative tools and working methods. The BRIDGE project, in Rotterdam, seeks to better align young people’s education choices with future labour market needs through close cooperation between schools, employers and local government. How to match the supply of jobs and of workers? How to encourage children and their parents to pursue jobs of the future instead of traditional and sometimes outdated vocations? The project partners met to start developing tools and methods in order to bring out new solutions to these questions. In Viladecans, the Villawatt project will develop an innovative public-private-citizens partnership (PPCP) to foster energy transition of residential buildings in a deprived district. The project team has set up three working groups focusing on the creation of a structure for the PPCP, the participation of communities, and the definition of the Rehabilitation Works process. In Nantes, 5Bridges set the first stones of its project by building the project specific identity and in this article they describe how they developed their logo jointly with their partners. They also brainstormed on joint working tools to encourage unusual ways of working (co-conception, experimentation, etc).

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BRIDGE project's presentation in Rotterdam

UIA cities have also started to involve the main beneficiaries and their local community in various inspiring ways both in the co-design and the implementation of their project. The CORE project in Vienna supports the integration of refugees in the City by making them actors and not passive beneficiaries of the integration process. They have recruited and trained their first refugee peers with a focus on young women, and 20 youth peers are already set up who will soon be starting their training on topics like gender or social skills. In Antwerp, the CURANT co-housing project, which will set up 75 co-housing units pairing a young refugee with volunteer buddies in order to guarantee a one-to-one integration of refugees, was presented to the wider public on 6 February. The first co-housing duos, Lisa and Ahmad, Khan-Aga and Glen, shared very positive feedbacks on this first experience in front of all official partners of the project. In Birmingham, the USE-IT project aims at self-empowering local communities to bring out bold solutions to increase employment and opportunities in the area. The project gathered the local community around mapping exercice workshops to identify the assets of their community and launched the Soho Social Enterprise Network to encourage local social enterprises to cluster and network. In Italy, the OpenAgri project of Milan aims at fostering the creation of innovative firms and social enterprises in the agri-food sector. Bringing together the actors of the Milanese food system was key to the launch of the project, and the project team used tools such as online surveys, interviews and thematic focus groups to assess the needs and expectations of companies active in this food sector. Several hectares of agricultural land have been made available by the City of Milan for testing new techniques as well. Finally in Bologna, where the SALUS project will convert an abandoned hospital into a reception and neighborhood centre for migrants, participation of the community and co-design is also an essential part. The project team, set up in three working groups, have finalized the visual identity of the project and started to plan participative workshops and launch interview to consult the local community.

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Mapping exercise with the local community in Birmingham for the USE-IT project

UIA projects will continue documenting on a regular basis the progresses made on the ground during the implementation phase. In addition, after the summer break, UIA Experts, who will follow all approved projects, will start producing their first Journals focussing on the main challenges related to the implementation of innovative urban projects and how UIA cities are trying to overcome them. All these valuable information and knowledge will be available on the project webpages. A very good reason to check them regulalry!