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Mid October the JPI Urban Europe call ‘Making Cities Work’ opens. This call is tailored towards urban innovation projects, inviting the problem owners, such as cities, urban infrastructure operators or industry, to team up with science to jointly develop solutions for their pressing issues. Colette Bos, Member of the Management Board and responsible for developing this Innovation Action, explains the backgrounds of this call and its ambitions.
A next step towards urban innovation
What is the ambition of this new call?
“The driving force behind our efforts in developing new R&I formats is to better meet societal and cities’ needs by mobilizing urban actors and stakeholders to co-create ideas, concepts and solutions and enhance the impact of our funded projectsWe strive to create a research and innovation environment for city administration, policy makers, researchers, citizens and other stakeholders to cooperate and connect research to policy making and urban practice. This also includes attracting new partners and applicants for our calls but also preparing conditions fit to cities and stakeholder requirements.”
Can you describe the new elements of this call?
“It is about strengthening trans-disciplinary cooperation – finding, involving and connecting all those parties that are needed to address a particular issues and jointly develop solutions. We want to incentivise cities and other stakeholders in the urban field to participate. Therefore we adapted our procedures and evaluation criteria, and tried to simplify the application forms. As the call focuses on the relevance of research for solving a particular problem, demonstrating the involvement of the problem owners and the economical and societal values of the proposed research and innovation activities is essential. When you read the call text you can sense that we strive to bundle experiences from the different participating countries and connect and share expertise.”
Cities define call topics
The call topics were also developed in a new way, what was so special about it?
“Developing a call targeted towards urban innovation requires the involvement of cities and related stakeholders right from the beginning. In a bottom-up approach cities were invited to present their pressing issues as concrete cases and references for the call topic development. During the JPI Urban Europe Conference at the end of May we organised a brokerage event to discuss those issues and the participants voted for the most interesting topic. Based on the top pitches four call topics were developed.”
Fit for repetition
How do you look back on the process? Do you think this approach for developing calls is fit for repetition?
“Yes, I think it is. Involving problem owners and researchers together in the process of choosing and developing the call topics is important to enhance the relevance of the call but also strengthen the collaboration of all these stakeholders in the project development. It needs to be a combination of all the expertise right from the beginning to strengthen mutual understanding and co-creation of solutions that are fit for purpose.”
The ‘Making Cities Work’ call is an exercise to experiment with new instruments that eliminate obstacles to participate. The funding for this call comes from the participating countries: Austria (FFG), Belgium (INNOVIRIS), Finland (Tekes), Norway (RCN) and Sweden (Swedish Energy Agency and Vinnova).
The call topics are:
– Re-thinking urban mobility: Innovative solutions to reduce city congestion;
– Implementing the Smart Sustainable City: From pilot projects within sectors and; neighbourhoods to cross-sectoral services for citizens and business;
– Creating the city together: Closing the gap between citizens, companies and city policy;
– Innovative and sustainable city change: Reducing the negative impacts of construction sites.