UrbanizeHub talked about our citizen-centered projects at two international events: Urban Future 2022 and the New European Bauhaus Festival. Grațian Mihăilescu and Mihai Ioniță were invited along with leaders in sustainable development of cities to present some of our initiatives through which we shape cities for people.
Urban Future 2022 brought together global leaders, mayors, international experts and entrepreneurs at a conference in Helsingborg, Sweden. There were 211 speakers from 87 cities on 6 continents. We were the only organization from Romania invited to participate and talk about the projects we implement. Our intervention was part of the panel organized by JPI Urban Europe, where Grațian Mihăilescu presented four of our flagship projects: Line Project, Proximity, Urban Mobility Lab and Urban Innovation Hackathons.
Grațian’s presentation focused on the involvement of the community in solving problems related to the urban environment. UrbanizeHub was part of the Speeding up change with experiments panel, which tackled the concept of city lab and how cities can innovate and transform through co-design processes. The panel was moderated by Johannes Riegler (Stakeholder Involvement Officer – JPI Europe), with Cecilie Sachs Olsen (Senior Research Fellow – Oslo Metropolitan University), Marc Dijk (Research Fellow – Maastricht University), Philine Gaffron (Senior Researcher – Hamburg) as speakers. University) and Grațian Mihăilescu (Founder of UrbanizeHub).
Through what we do at UrbanizeHub we focus on collaboration between citizens, the administration, the business community and the academic/expertise area to find solutions that preserve local specific heritage, promote sustainability and encourage city-based initiatives for people. Grațian spoke about the role of innovation in developing and testing solutions before implementing them. Quick solutions designed in public administration offices do not have the expected long-term effects because they do not have the same support from citizens as those in which the community has been involved from the beginning. UrbanizeHub will continue to promote and generate city lab projects that can be scaled and adapted in Eastern European cities. Our work has been appreciated and we have received encouragement from those who share our vision for sustainably developed cities for people. Feedback has shown us that we can produce innovation and create replicable concepts both in Romania and in Europe. Urban Future was an opportunity to connect with other urban leaders and to collect examples of good practice that we want to apply in Romania and Eastern Europe. The road is long, as Santiago Uribe Rocha, Chief Resilience Officer of Medellin, Colombia, put it: “Our challenge is like a turtle ride.”
The New European Bauhaus Festival brought together citizens with activity and expertise in different areas in order to debate and shape the future of our cities. Our colleague, Mihai Ioniță, was invited to Brussels to talk about the Lugoj: For Kids, by Kids project implemented last year and funded by the New European Bauhaus. Although we did not participate in the competition for the NEB 2022 awards, our presence at the event was due to the innovative nature of the project through which we trained students in a participatory urban mobility exercise. Thus, the students from the “Coriolan Brediceanu” National College from Lugoj used GIS maps to identify the problematic spaces when they were cycling. The city is famous for its passion for two-wheelers, which allowed us to use the local specifics to engage the energies of young people to propose solutions to the identified challenges. These solutions have been handed over to the public administration so that when the master plan for urban mobility will be developed, it will take into account the children’s input and how they use the bicycle. Through the feedback received from experts and representatives of the European Commission, we will try to take this type of project to a higher level and integrate it into a more strategic concept.
This month, UrbanizeHub will participate in the Transylvanian Clusters International Week 2022 (Cluj-Napoca), the Metropolitan City Conference (Amsterdam) and the Climate-KIC Europe conference (Valencia). We will continue to promote our projects and talk about why it is essential for people to be involved in shaping the future of cities.