The Urban Economy Clust-ER
The main purpose of the Clust-ER will be to identify new models of organisation and use of urban space, differentiated by type of territory and in line with the changing lifestyles of citizens, always putting their involvement at the centre of the process; fundamental steps in this path, the digitization of services and the development of proximity infrastructures and the experimentation of innovative ways of organising businesses, based on equity, sustainability, and inclusion. The work of this Clust-ER will fit within several tools already adopted by the region: first of all the Jobs and Climate Pact, but also the new 2021-2027 ERDF and ESF+ programming and the Smart Specialization Strategy, in which the need for an integrated approach between different productive sectors is recalled in order to strengthen the urban economy of territories.
Urban economics is the discipline that analyses the relationships between economic activities (business and social) and the territory by studying the ways in which the interactions between people, things and information in space make it possible to organise the demand and supply of services in the territory to meet the needs of communities. Thus, talking about urban economy means identifying the drivers for the growth of attractiveness and livability of the territory. The dynamics of concentration and specialisation of commercial, social, health and cultural services, the phenomenon of depopulation of inland areas, together with structural changes in the way work is organised and services are used have accelerated with the Covid-19 pandemic, fueled by the progressive digitization of activities. These phenomena have accelerated changes in patterns of living and consumption: from the massive use of home delivery and smart working, to the revaluation of proximity networks, consisting of neighbourhood businesses, social and health and welfare garrisons, and social and cultural gathering centres.
The European Commission has defined the proximity economy as the set of “short-range” value chains that interconnect different industrial systems, from construction to mobility, from energy to trade, and are grafted onto proximity hubs (city services and spaces, places of local production and consumption). In this context, rethinking the design, distribution and delivery of services aimed at citizens and communities makes it possible to reinterpret and innovate some of the leading sectors for the economy of the Emilia-Romagna region, such as the trade sector and the so-called urban tertiary sector, in the light of an idea of integrated development that is more adherent to the diversified demand for innovation from the territory. The perspective outlined by European policies and the Recovery Plan implementation scenario offer cities an extraordinary opportunity for integrated strategic intervention that puts new enabling technologies at the service of people and communities.
Goals of the Cluster
- to go beyond the Smart city concept towards a city and territory idea of “augmented” proximity, a city of people 4.0 that reconnects the places of work, living and personal services, identifying new models of organization and use of space that enable the practice of more sustainable and socially inclusive lifestyles starting with the most fragile individuals, particularly children and the elderly;
- support the development of proximity social infrastructures in cities and the territory (particularly in terms of innovative forms of housing and optimized management of the logistics of social and welfare services) and encourage the development of collaborative, sustainable and local models of production and consumption (“local value loops”);
- develop processes of digitization, customization, functionalization of products/services, in order to bring added value even in the most traditional sectors of the territory (crafts, trade, food);
- reorganize the production and delivery chains of services to citizens (“urban tertiary”) through new organizational models based on innovation, inclusion, equity and sustainability (community cooperatives, energy communities, welfare districts, proximity networks)
- study differentiated models for types of territories with different needs, developing calibrated proposals for dense cities, metropolitan and intermediate areas, inland and mountainous areas;
- integrate digital research and innovation skills with those related to social, urban and economic sciences to enable better matching of innovative solutions to real needs and greater economic sustainability of the choices made
- intercept European opportunities for project development, skills and investment related to, for example, the 100 Climate Neutral Cities by 2030, New European Bauhaus, Intelligent Cities Challenge, Affordable Housing Initiative, Pact for Skills in Proximity and Social Economy initiatives.
New models of building the citizen offer
- Citizen engagement and human-centricity for the creation of new products and services: new models for the dynamic collection of housing, cultural, educational, social, and health needs of the territory, particularly of the most fragile groups for the creation of human-centric products and services and new ways of active involvement of citizens, with a view to collective intelligence;
- Innovation in business organizational modes: new collaborative models between businesses (business networks and districts, integrated street centers, co-retails, community cooperatives, business regeneration models and platform economies, hybridization of business functions, co-working), for the enhancement of specific local identities; new business models with social impact on communities; new organizational and distribution models of the supply of goods and services;
Proximity spaces and services
- Integrated urban services and neighborhood social infrastructure: collaborative practices in the production and management of local services; integrated and sustainable models of planning and management of mobility, energy and waste management services at the neighborhood or district level, allowing greater flexibility of choice and seeing community management at the center of the innovation process (e.g., sustainable districts, “super-islands” and eco-neighborhoods, energy communities, PEDs – positive energy districts);
- Promotion of sustainable lifestyles and consumption: new methodologies to incentivize sustainable lifestyles and consumption, to encourage the adoption of slow mobility solutions, the use and reuse of public, green and non-green urban spaces (e.g., behavioral study in urban settings); new regulatory and management models of space (e.g., regulations for the management of common goods, participatory plans and budgets, etc.);
Data for space transformation
- Digital twins in urban and territorial spheres: development of dynamic planning, simulation and monitoring models of urban uses and functions and of the environmental quality and vulnerability of the territory, to support decisions in urban and territorial planning;
- New data-based spatial services: use of IoT, Open and Big Data, and AI for the development of data-driven urban/extra-urban services, e.g., for urban facility management, smart commuting in urban and rural areas, energy smart grid management, and the creation of spatial services such as mobility centers that are sustainable, inclusive, digital, and multi-modality oriented.
Areas of interest
- user-centric/citizen-centric urban services
- sustainable mobility of people last-mile logistics
- child-friendly public city
- “augmented” city and territory of proximity
- collaborative models of resource production/consumption/use.
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