After a competitive process that saw 378 proposals submitted in March 2016 from across 24 EU Member States, 18 urban authorities will have the opportunity to experiment bold and innovative solutions to tackle the challenges linked to urban poverty, the integration of migrants and refugees, jobs and skills in the local economy and the energy transition.
The final decision was taken by a Selection Committee made up of the European Commission and the Entrusted Entity at the end of September based on the level of innovation of the proposals as well as on the quality of the partnership, the measurability of the expected results, the potential transferability of the solution to other urban authorities in Europe and the overall quality of the work plan. Approximately €80 million ERDF have been committed to support the selected projects
The approved projects were announced officially on the 12 October during the European Week of Regions and Cities.
Four urban challenges tackled in bold new ways
Three cities will lead the way on the topic of energy transition. The city of Gothenburg will look to reduce the use of fossil fuel energy and increase the security of supply by developing and testing a novel district level energy system, integrating a local energy system and market including demand and supply. The city of Paris will look at optimal energy performance at district scale by integrating a multi-stakeholder governance system with a management platform to monitor, consolidate and analyse data helping stakeholders achieve energy performance targets. In order to tackle the challenge of fuel poverty, the city of Viladecans will seek to secure a stable energy transition through the deep energy renovation of residential buildings in a deprived neighbourhood by setting up an innovative Public-Private-Citizen governance Partnership.
Five cities will test new ideas and solution to facilitate the integration of migrants and refugees. The cities of Antwerp and Munich will focus on housing. In Antwerp, young unaccompanied refugees who have reached the age of adulthood but are no longer able to benefit from social protection will have the opportunity to take part in a housing scheme where they are matched with young local citizens (buddies) and given training and job opportunities. In Munich, new apartments will be shared by refugees and local citizens where common spaces will be co-designed, integrate cultural and training activities with the development of self-governance mechanisms. The city of Bologna will look to foster the social, cultural and economic inclusion of migrants integrating different services in a new refurbished centre and allowing migrants to acquire new skills and build micro-enterprises for community services in the neighbourhood. Asylum seekers’ entrepreneurial skills will be capitalised in the city of Utrecht combining community housing and learning activities. The city of Vienna will create a one-stop-shop for refugees that will bring together municipal services with grass roots initiatives through new forms of social cooperatives.
Four cities will contribute to the topic of jobs and skills in the local economy. The city of Bilbao will prepare for the transition towards Industry 4.0 (robotics, 3D printing, etc.) through a collaborative process to enable the workforce of the Knowledge Intensive Business Sector to meet the digital transformation demands in manufacturing. In Madrid, the city will address the consequences of the economic crisis, by supporting grass roots initiatives and developing the solidarity economy to build resilience to future economic impacts in four key sectors: energy, food, mobility and recycling. The city of Milan will look at the agri-food sector creating an open innovation hub that will promote its entrepreneurial, social, sustainable and technological dimensions. The city of Rotterdam will address the future skills gap in the green, digital and health sectors by establishing a career and talent orientation programme starting with children aged nine continuing with young people in vocational schools.
Six urban authorities will work on urban poverty with a focus on deprived neighbourhoods. In the city of Barcelona the impact of different typologies of Guaranteed Minimum Income will be tested, through the deployment of participation and empowerment activities. Birmingham City Council, through the involvement of Community Researchers, will identify and connect social and economic assets existing in poor and migrant communities to major capital and infrastructure investments in the city. The city of Lille will test new ways to reintroduce productive activities centred on food in one of its most deprived neighbourhoods. Targeting mainly its homeless and socially excluded population, the city of Nantes will seek to break the circle of social and spatial polarisation by creating a one-stop-shop providing comprehensive and tailored services interconnecting different social groups that will tackle the interrelated causal factors of urban poverty. The city of Pozzuoli in Southern Italy will use thirty hectares of public green areas in its most disadvantaged neighbourhood to spearhead an economic process and development with urban agriculture as a means to combat poverty. In Turin, the city will give residents in its deprived neighbourhoods through a ‘commons-based urban welfare’ the power to take over disused municipal assets to co-produce services and develop a collaborative economy.
Taking the risk to test new solutions
At a glance, although the new solutions to be experimented are different and tailor made to the local contexts, it is already possible to highlight some interesting trends across projects:
- UIA can trigger innovation even before the selection. For the preparation of the proposals, all 18 selected urban authorities went through a genuine process of a co-generation and co-design with Delivery Partners and a wider group of stakeholders.
- Complex challenges require complex solutions. All projects are an integrated set of actions with the most innovative elements at the heart of the solution proposed.
- Given the interconnected nature, projects have put great emphasis on the integration of the actions proposed. New mechanisms and methodologies to work across departments and with very different stakeholders will also be part of the experimentation.
- Particular attention is also given to the monitoring and ongoing evaluation. All projects have planned to work with renowned universities and think tanks in order to ensure a continuous evaluation allowing projects to be adapted during their life-cycle to ensure they meet their objectives.
The projects will kick-start their activities on 1 November for a duration of three years. One extra year will be dedicated to the capture and sharing of the main knowledge acquired during implementation.
In the coming months, each selected project will have a dedicate page in the UIA website with more detailed information on activities, partners and milestones.
UIA Experts will work closely with the 18 urban authorities and their partners to capture the knowledge generated throughout the testing phase and to make it available to policy-makers and practitioners in Europe and beyond.
Meanwhile, the UIA will continue to provide urban authorities with space and resources to experiment new bold ideas. The second Call for Proposals will be launched in November 2016. Interested urban authorities are invited to check the details of the topics of the circular economy, sustainable urban mobility and the integration of migrants and refugees now available on our website.