UIA in Perspective
During five calls for proposals organised between 2015 and 2020, UIA has funded a total of 86 projects. UIA projects have tested a diversity of experimentations in line with broader EU policy objectives and covering the variety of 14 urban topics directly linked with the Urban Agenda for the EU. The UIA projects featured many different types of innovations involving the development and testing of new products, processes or services, innovative use of technology to inform and influence decision-making, number of social innovations, new ways to mobilise citizens or stakeholders, as well as territorial governance and organisational innovations.
Accordingly, Laura Colini, UIA expert, agrees that "UIA projects give the chance to accompany ideas unfolding from project to reality, to access the stories of people engaged in experimenting new solutions to collective problems with a progressive, socially conscious and ecological approach, and to provide humble feedback, capacity building and exchange opportunities through practices and experiences coming from other contexts."
Moreover, most projects were not focused only on single innovations but embraced the New Leipzig Charter with an integrated approach to urban life and its inter-connected challenges. Projects have also mobilized local alliances that could last and bring extra benefits in the long run on the innovation ecosystem dynamics.
As Laura also points out, "all projects I have encountered, have started from simple but courageous ideas grounded in the socio-political and economic local contexts and specific time. Some of them are born from innovative proposals such as the idea of reusing soil from the Grand Paris metro excavation for building materials (UIA- EARTH CYCLE Paris); or the social housing and cohabitation of feminist, life and death - care oriented associations, Community Land Trust in Brussels; the guaranteed minimum income for the poorest in Barcelona; or inventing a city wide tenants cooperative never experimented before in Spain. They created a precedent, they are a concrete testimony that something new can be experimented, with due learning from lights and shadows."