From 7-10 March, the BoostINNO (Boosting Social Innovation) URBACT network met for a project meeting in Baia Mare, in the north-west of Romania. The BoostINNO network consists of ten cities: Gdansk (PL)-Lead partner, Paris (FR), Milan (IT), Turin (IT), Braga (PT), Barcelona (ES), Wroclaw (PL), Skane County (SE), Baia mare (RO), Strasbourg (FR). Peter Wolkowinski, the lead expert in the project and me started exchanging on JPI Urban Europe activities related to social Innovation and discussing the linkages to BoostINNO about half a year ago which resulted in an invitation to join in Baia Mare and to spend three days working with the cities and highlighting linkages between and possibilities for those cities to join JPI Urban Europe projects and activities such as the Agora – JPI Urban Europe Stakeholder Platform. I happily accepted the invitation and found myself on a tiny airplane from Vienna to Cluj Napoca some weeks later, where I met with Peter and the other project partners to go on a three hour bus ride to Baia Mare.
Dedicated to brokerage with mix of participants
Thematically the meeting was dedicated to brokerage, the various layers and framework conditions of co-creating knowledge and change and the benefit to join European networks and activities such as those offered by JPI Urban Europe. Besides myself presenting JPI Urban Europe, the social innovators Erna Bosschart and Arjan Biemans of the Social Innovation Acceleration in Cities network (www.SIAC.network) joined the meeting and were actively working with the cities on the role of brokerage for Social Innovation. The SIAC network has been part of numerous JPI Urban Europe activities and the networks set up by the SEiSMiC project. This mix of participants allowed very fruitful exchange and discussion bringing in experience and knowledge from various backgrounds.
The importance of co-creation
For me personally, it was a very inspirational experience to learn how cities approach the importance of brokerage and highlighting its main functions for cities with different characteristics. It’s the projects openness to bring in experience from other urban actors and research and innovation which inspires and helps creating urban (social) innovation ecosystems and highlights the importance for co-creation and exchange of knowledge for transitions towards sustainable and liveable urban futures. JPI Urban Europe would be very happy to continue to facilitate exchange between URBACT projects and JPI Urban Europe activities, especially in the Agora – JPI Urban Europe Stakeholder Involvement Platform.
Fruitful and interesting exchange
I would like to thank Peter Wolkowinski for inviting me to join the meeting in Baia Mare, Dorin Miclaus and his team for the local organisation of the meeting and introduction to traditional Romanian and all the other participants of the BoostINNO project including the local urban actors from Baia Mare and Erna and Arjan (SIAC) for the fruitful and interesting exchange, and last but not least, the bus driver who repaired the broken bus on the way to Baia Mare. Without you, half of the meeting’s participants would have been stuck in the Romanian Country side.
By Johannes Riegler, assistant to the JPI Urban Europe Management Board