The project started in November 2018 and had a slow kick-off, but at a certain point it got momentum and started being noted. In February 2021, when the strategy for ‘Spain Entrepreneurial Nation’ was published, UFIL turned out to be mentioned in the document as an example of scalable measure tackling urban-rural challenges (measure N.41). In particular, the project and its activities were included among those innovative initiatives aimed at urban development in depopulating areas of Spain. In March 2021, the project was visited by the High Commissioner for ‘Spain Entrepreneurial Nation’. During the visit, the Commissioner highlighted how ‘The city of Cuenca is a national benchmark in innovative urban development, being the only initiative that appears mentioned in the measures of the ‘Spain Entrepreneurial Nation’ strategy’ (source: UFIL blog).
In this acknowledgment, the most distinguishing aspect for UFIL is to be the only mentioned initiative across the identified measures of the strategy. As it was highlighted since the very beginning of the project, UFIL always fitted well into policy contexts, at all administrative levels (see UFIL Journal # 1 published in January 2020). Indeed, UFIL matches very well also the scopes of the national strategy ‘Spain Entrepreneurial Nation’ which include increasing investment capacity; developing / retaining / attracting talent; supporting business growth, competitiveness and job creation; and making the public sector agile and able to create favourable conditions for innovation and investments.
In 2022, UFIL received another important acknowledgment when it was included as a good practice in the ‘Guide to plan healthy cities’ prepared by the Spanish Ministry for Health and the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces. The acknowledgement is grounded on the Municipality of Cuenca’s thinking of the city as a space driving - through innovation - the revitalisation of rural areas. As underlined in the guide, the city generates a vision of common territorial management to develop synergies between the urban and rural dimensions (source: Fariña et al., 2022).
Finally, still in 2022, the Municipality of Cuenca received the Regional Award for Environment 2022. The award, delivered by the Ministry of Sustainable Development of the Government of Castilla-La Mancha, acknowledges those administrations, entities or individuals having contributed to protect or preserve the environment. The Cuenca City Council qualified for the award in the ‘circular economy’ category because of its leadership of the UIA project.