Agri-urban Lab
Short description
After an initial tender phase of 4 months, the City of Milan, as the Main Urban Authority for the UIA OpenAgri project, launched in February 2018 an Urban Agriculture Lab within the area of Cascina Nosedo, the future Open Innovation Hub of this urban metropolitan fringe.

The Lab will explore innovative techniques in urban agriculture (from production to logistic, from Internet of Food to sharing economy) and it will engage a series of selected partners on using in the best possible way a public owned 30 hectares plot of land surrounding the south Milan Parco Sud boundaries. The Lab is primarily set to help entrepreneurs to develop new practices in Peri-Urban agriculture, to create new job opportunities and to revitalise a fringe area of the city.

50 proposals were submitted and 18 were selected, a great success for such an innovative call for ideas. OpenAgri Lab presents a series of innovative projects, clustered in three main subjects: production and other agro-economic services, innovation and ICT, social innovation and sharing economy.

We provide detailed description of a sample of three projects, one for each cluster, to underline what we hope to achieve with this project in term of jobs and skills creation, redevelopment of the urban fringe and innovation in the field of urban-rural agriculture sector:

  • Production and other agro-economic services

“Narrare il Pane” project aim is to create in the urban fringe a spin-off of a centrally located bread production and selling facility. The producer will use 7 hectares of Open Agri Lab agricultural areas and they will create a selling point and a series of workshops on how to make bread activating the neighbourhood inhabitants.

  • Innovation and ICT

“A.S.T.R.A.” project is an innovative startup operating in the drone industry, particularly in the precision farming on-demand domain, providing remote sensing services to the agriculture business. The aim of the proponent is to develop a pilot project in the Open Agri open laboratory area, in order to research big data platforms and machine learning processes.

  • Social innovation and sharing economy

“Lavoro e vita oltre l’autismo” project will empower persons with autism in an agricultural project based on Open Agri Lab agricultural areas. The users will be involved in a range of activities, in order to enact their participation and act as an innovative welfare approach to handicap.

We also set up an innovative communication strategy called #MilanoUpsideDown: Innovate the Rural | Growth the Urban. The main media will be the project FB page supported by a FB group to share relevant documents and reports. The tag (supported by the explanatory claim) has the ambition to be the label of any idea, action and actor in Milan who questioned with a positive and proactive practice the consolidated hierarchies: Close vs Far, Centre vs Suburbs, Rural vs Urban. Within the communication and engagement strategy OpenAgri will also launch a series of #MilanoUpsideDownLabs where everyone from every part of Milan (from the partners to normal citizen, from big companies to startups, from no profit associations to local government bodies) will be invited to present a project related to the values attached to the overall Tag and Claim of the communication plan as stated before. These meetings (15 between 2018 and 2019) will take place both on the ground in the form of workshops (for gathering and preparing the candidates projects) and in central media venues or occasions.
The first one took place on the 27th of March 2018 in the cultural institution “Triennale di Milano”: more than 60 attendees shared their experience about several projects happening in the urban-rural fringe of the city.

So, let’s start to #MilanoUpsideDown with UIA initiative!

Author: the OpenAgri project team