Recap from the European Week of Regions and Cities
The European Week of Regions and Cities is an annual four-day event during which cities and regions showcase their capacity to create growth and jobs, implement European Union cohesion policy, and prove the importance of the local and regional level for good European governance. The 2018 edition of the event was held in Brussels between 8-11 October.
ENoLL was actively engaged in several sessions. We co-organised a session on “Cross-border co-creation Living Laboratories for Local development” with the Metropolitan City of Turin, joined “Investing in the economical and digital transition of cities and communities” as SynchroniCity partners and participated in sessions we identified as relevant for the Living Lab community; such as “How to Support the Participation of Mobile EU Citizens in Local Communities” (report with key messages, recommendations for Living Lab engagement & follow-up info is published in the members area of ENoLL website).
“Cross-border co-creation Living Laboratories for Local development” session
Metropolitan City of Turin and ENoLL joined forces to discuss how co-creation can improve the definition and implementation of local and cross-border development policies. Living Labs were presented as a methodology which can be used for participative territorial development on multiple levels and the audience was invited to weight in on the challenges they found most important with regards to cross-border cooperation.
The discussion was moderated by ENoLL Director, Zsuzsanna Bodi who explained the Quadruple Helix model to the participants – an essential component of Living Labs. This model allows a dialogue between political institutions, enterprises, university and civil society to co-create solutions which address people’s need. The audience was welcomed by Anna Merlin, Counsellor of the Metropolitan City of Turin, who stressed that for the City of Turin, Living Labs represent participation, innovation and better policy making.
In the first part of the session examples of cross-border collaboration from Spain and Italy were presented. ENoLL Chairman and co-founder of the Library Living Lab, Fernando Vilariño, spoke about the unique example of the Barcelona-based Living Lab and how technology transforms the cultural experiences of people. He explained why local community-led development should be included in the discussion, which in his view, would allow policy makers to better understand community needs and interests. Vilariño added that the Living Lab methods are applicable to all kinds of communities.
His statement was supported with the example from a cross-border cooperation programme ‘GRAIES Lab’ between Italy and France. Through this initiative, Torino Metropolitan City is aiming to make rural areas more attractive for younger generations. The strategy of the programme, as was presented by Tiziana Fiorini, is to co-create solutions and skills in an innovative and sustainable way, using the Living Lab methodology.
The challenges which the two countries are facing are:
- overcoming territorial conformation, while trying to connect sparsely located villages in the mountainous area
- coordinate partners from different economic and territorial backgrounds
- engaging young citizens and SMEs in the innovation process
Through the interactive tool Slido, participants of the sessions joined the debate. When asked what is the added value of the cross-border projects, the majority of the participants agreed it was to create long-lasting collaborations between different regions and countries. It was also determined that most participants felt their municipalities are only to a some extent driven in Open Innovation and citizen participation – a component they found important. When asked what elements are most interesting in territorial co-creation, the participative approach received the highest number of votes.
The session was concluded with a thought, that even though every region has to overcome different challenges, the Living Lab approach is replicable in various contexts and yields sustainable benefits. Fernando Vilariño also stressed that alpha users need to be engaged and that agile response from the European Institutions is needed more than ever.