Urban Innovative Action (UIA) is an Initiative of the European Commission that aims to provide resources for European urban areas in order to allow them to test creative, innovative solutions to the principal urban challenges of our time. They highlight the fact that 72% of the EU population lives in urban environments, and that authorities are often afraid to spend their money on experimental and risky ideas – this is where the UIA comes in, giving new ideas a chance to be tested.
In the first call for proposals in 2016, 378 projects were submitted, and 18 of them have been approved. The announcement was made during the European Week of Regions and Cities in October. For a project to be chosen by the UIA, it needs to be innovative, of good quality, participative, measurable and transferable.
Four urban challenges are being tackled by the projects approved this year:
- Gothenburg – testing a novel district level energy system, integrating a local energy system and market including demand and supply – this will reduce the use of fossil fuel and increase the security of supply.
- Paris – integrating a multi-stakeholder governance system with a management platform to monitor, consolidate and analyse data, all used to optimise energy performance.
- Viladecans – setting up an innovative Public-Private-Citizen governance Partnership to secure a stable energy transition through deep energy renovation of residential buildings in deprived neighborhoods.
Integration of migrants and refugees
- Antwerp – young refugees who have reached the age of adulthood and can no longer 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.
- 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.
- Bologna – to foster social, economic and cultural inclusion, a newly refurbished center for migrants will integrate different services which will allow them to acquire new skills and build micro-enterprises for community services.
- Utrecht – capitalising asylum seekers’ entrepreneurial skills by combining community housing and learning activities.
- Vienna – creating a one-stop-shop for refugees that will bring together municipal services with grassroots initiatives through new forms of social cooperatives.
Jobs and skills in the local economy
- Bilbao – preparing the transition towards Industry 4.0 (robotics, 3D printing, etc.) through a collaborative process, enabling the workforce of the Knowledge Intensive Business Sector to meet the digital transformation demands in manufacturing.
- Madrid – addressing consequences of the economic crisis by supporting grassroots initiatives and developing a solidarity economy to build resilience in four key sectors: energy, food, mobility and recycling
- Milan – creating an open innovation hub for the agri-food sector to promote its entrepreneurial, social, sustainable and technological dimensions.
- Rotterdam – addressing future skills gap in the green, digital and health sectors by establishing a career and talent orientation programme starting with children aged nine, and continuing with young people in vocational schools.
- Barcelona – testing different typologies of Guaranteed Minimum Income through participation and empowerment activities.
- Birmingham – Community Researchers will identify social and economic assets existing in poor and migrant communities and connect them to major capital and infrastructure investments in the city.
- Lille – testing new ways to reintroduce productive activities centred on food in one of its most deprived neighbourhoods.
- Nantes – breaking the cycle of social and spatial polarisation by creating a one-stop-shop providing comprehensive and tailored services interconnecting different social groups, to tackle the interrelated causal factors of urban poverty.
- Pozzuoli – using 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.
- Turin – giving residents in 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.
The second call for proposals will launch in November 2016 and it will be focused on three topics: sustainable urban mobility, the circular economy, and integration of migrants and refugees – the latter was also included in the first call, which suggests that European cities continue to be in need of innovative solutions for asylum seekers.
Source and photos: uia-initiative.eu