Smart Specialisation and the Heritage City

Wed 9, October 2019
09:15 - 10:45 CET

This workshop seeks to strengthen the linkage between Cultural Heritage (CH) and the smart specialisation strategies (RIS3) that are running at regional and national levels, and raise awareness of the potential role of cities as tier-one RIS3 actors. Local authorities have been poorly engaged so far, resulting that smart specialisation is still barely assumed at city level. It is time to empower cities as RIS3 actors and use cultural heritage as a tool. 

Partners of the Horizon 2020 ROCK project, including EUROCITIES and TASO, have shaped an intriguing and very dynamic agenda that will include introductory statement by the European Commission DG Research and Innovation (Framing CH at the innovation policy), keynote by TASO (Talking to cities about smart specialisation) and the case study Bologna and Emilia Romagna´s S3 joint approach to cultural heritage that will be jointly presented by the Regional Development Agency ART-ER and Comune di Bologna. 

Participants in the workshop will be involved in a group discussion with the aim to agree on two questions: i) technology-driven challenges related to CH - which links to the RIS3 idea of prioritisation; ii) and cross-innovation vectors involving CH - linked to the RIS3 concept of relatedness. This highly interactive part, bringing together the different perspectives and backgrounds from participants, will be facilitated by Prof. Christer Gustafsson from the University of Uppsala, specialised in challenges and opportunities for cultural heritage as a driver for sustainable growth and heritage-led innovation-driven regional/urban development. 

Target participants:

  • City officers wanting to unlock the potential of CH as a driver to local and sustainable economic development.
  • CH managers wanting to frame heritage within the innovation policy.
  • RIS3 regional leading authorities wanting to focus on cultural heritage.
  • Start-ups, technological firms and researchers. 

To those interested, the discussion will be extended the same day at the dedicated networking space provided by the EWRC organisation (Agora Village, level -2).

Christer Gustafsson, Professor, University of Uppsala, Sweden.
Giorgia Boldrini, Senior Policy Officer, CCI expert, Comune di Bologna, Italy.
Barbara Busi, Innovation Ecosystem Unit Manager, ART-ER, Italy.
Cecile Houpert, Project officer, EUROCITIES, Belgium.
Maria Kayamanidou, Deputy Head of Unit Inclusive Societies, European Commission - DG Research and Innovation, Belgium.
Domna Paschalidou, Research Policy Assistant, European Commission - DG Research and Innovation, Belgium.
Miguel Rivas, Partner, TASO Desarrollos S.L., Spain.
Sveva Ruggiero, Project manager, ART-ER, Italy.
Ann Uustalu, Research programme officer, European Commission, Belgium.
A smarter Europe
English (EN)

Session summary

Organised as part of the EU funded "ROCK" project, this session investigated the role of cultural heritage in smart specialization strategies at city level. The ROCK project aims to demonstrate how cities can become laboratories for testing new models of urban regeneration, sustainable development and economic and social growth, using cultural heritage to bring a new creative energy to cities. ROCK has developed a new approach, combining technological, organizational and social innovations and moving towards a more circular model of urban regeneration.

To kick off the session, the European Commission, represented by Domna Paschalidou (DG RTD), outlined the potential to link cultural heritage with regional innovation policies, discussing the EU funding programmes which offer multiple opportunities to the EU regions. Miguel Rivas from TASO consultancy, ROCK's partner, then outlined a practitioner’s perspective regarding the missing link between regional and city government, which had emerged with the smart specialisation strategy both in the design and implementation phase. 

In Italy, the Emilia-Romagna region - and its capital city Bologna (also a ROCK project coordinator)- has been a frontrunner in developing a joint approach to cultural heritage and linking it to regional innovation policies, as demonstrated by the numerous projects ongoing at local and regional level.

Barbara Busi from ART-ER Emilia-Romagna (Attractiveness Research Territory) explained how the regional smart specialisation strategy earmarked public funding under the "smart cultural heritage" objective in order to boost academic research and entrepreneurship around technological innovation in relation to heritage. The RIS3 from Emilia-Romagna addressed projects in the "building & construction" sector, encouraging the adoption of technologies to enhance the heritage restoration and recouping process. At the same time, the RIS3 funded projects within the "cultural & creative industry" sector, implementing a digitisation process to increase the accessibility of the artefacts and interoperability between museums, galleries and libraries. As outlined by Ms Busi, the region set up a first-tier monitoring website to track the impact and outcomes of EU expenditure in the region, showing remarkable results in terms of patents registered, SMEs engaged and research projects funded.

The case was so particular as the regional authorities in Emilia Romagna tapped into the link with the local authorities, the Municipality of Bologna. Giorgia Boldrini, director of the cultural and creative industry department in Bologna, outlined the results of this close interaction such as the "Incredibol" project. Funded by the region and managed by the municipality, this project aims to empower entrepreneurship in the cultural and creative industries, exploiting the assets in the city of Bologna. The WunderBO project is one outcome of the ROCK project which sets a benchmark. It is an effective example of technologies adopted in the field of cultural heritage. WunderBO is a video game keen to best promote the city and its cultural heritage, kept in Bologna's two museums.

Proffesor Gustaffson from the University of Uppsala wrapped up the session concluding that heritage can offer a variety of innovation pathways both in terms of restoration and promotion. But at the moment, only 14 regions in Europe make cultural heritage a priority in their smart specialization strategies. As engines for change, heritage cities should be more active in the process of defining RIS3, as smart specialization strategies are powerful tools for linking cultural heritage to innovation policy and in raising its profile.

Take away message

"Smart specialisation and the Heritage city" charted how cultural heritage can be an effective test-bed for technological innovation.

EU regions can tap into a number of funding programmes to boost innovation by embedding CH within their RIS3s. 

The link between city and regional governments enhances the effectiveness of public expenditure within the S3’s framework.

Digitisation is one of the technological trajectories which can be applied to CH. More technologies can be adopted to enhance the promotion and preservation of heritage.

"Governance is very critical to make our projects successful. The University Research Centre helps us to experiment with new urban solutions to promote cultural heritage".

Barbara Busi – ART-ER (In-house agency for Emilia-Romagna Region)

"Cultural heritage will gain more emphasis in the next EU programming period since it is the connective tissue between artistic and creative production, culture, ethics and values, business and technology".

Domna Paschalidou – EU Commission.

"We envisage the potential of cultural heritage as a primary test-bed for technological innovation. Regions and cities have to work closely to tailor Smart Specialisation Strategies around this".

Miguel Rivas – TASO Desarrollos

"In a context where resources are scarce, inter-institutional cooperation is of the utmost importance to implement new projects".

Giorgia Boldrini – Municipality of Bologna