The first JPI Urban Europe call was focused on three topics: Urban Diversity and Social Cohesion, Urban Systems and Networks, and the Governance of Complex Urban systems. Focusing on these three topics allowed proposals to be guided towards clear and concreate objectives. It also meant that project proposals fit within our long term vision, which came to be expressed in our Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA).
The focus on urban diversity and social cohesion meant proposals were put forward which truly examined the challenges of urban demographics. Some of the projects which came out of this call addressed critical points of research such as segregation and migration, which are becoming central issues in urban European areas as they diversify ethnically and culturally. The research conducted looked into smart methods to measure and tackle segregation and increase integration. In fact, the research looked to restructure these problems into potential advantages. For example, some projects looked at how ever increasing diversity can actually be beneficial to society and improve economic resilience. The projects also explored ways of integrating marginalised citizens into the public decision making process.
Concerning the second topic, Urban Systems and Networks really are the backbones of cities. Simply put, without them successful urban development cannot happen. However, population change and climate change present a number of problems in this area. We had projects looking into utilities, water, sanitation, and green infrastructure. This was done in order to advance the development of some systems, improve other existing systems, and encourage coordination between systems. This research will ultimately help create future urban European areas which have efficient, well connected and integrated networks.
Furthermore, our first call also focused on the Governance of Complex Urban Systems. It did this because growing changes in ecology, economy, and society require new modes of thinking. One of the central questions of this topic was how different actors, public and private, could be involved in the co-creation of policy right from its conception up until its implementation. Ultimately we got some great and innovative projects looking at fascinating issues such as how to gather data in a useful and comprehensible manner. This topic really encouraged the coming together of scientists, politicians, businesses, and civil society in order to govern more effectively.
For this first call we actually had fifty-six multilateral pre-proposals to choose from; in the end we picked the ten most outstanding projects for funding. In the first call funding agencies from Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden and Turkey participated in our call. This gave us a budget of €9 million. The application procedure was coordinated by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) and the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).