UDN-Urban Financing: How can URBIS help cities unlock and accelerate investments?
URBIS was created in 2017 under the framework of the Advisory Hub to respond to a need identified in consultation with cities, namely that cities need integrated, place-based advisory assistance tailored to their specific needs in order to support the planning, preparation and implementation of investment programmes and projects.
URBIS provides a single access point to a wide range of specialised expertise relevant for the urban context. Based on the specific needs of cities, bespoke advisory support packages are designed and agreed upon. URBIS supports the thematic priorities outlined in the Urban Agenda for the EU and is available for both public and private sector promoters.
The workshop presented the breadth of the advisory support available through URBIS. It took stock of activities to date, visualising the geographic outreach of the initiative and the types of urban entities that have so far requested support. A particular emphasis was placed on the fact that the initiative has been able to reach big and small cities alike, which proves that URBIS is an efficient tool to address the needs of cities irrespective of their size and geographical location.
Small cities were the subject of a separate analysis during the presentation of a dedicated study, which examined the difficulties small cities experience accessing finance. The analysis identified key barriers as well as the available mechanisms to overcome those barriers, looking into practical solutions through direct discussions with cities and practitioners from the urban investment field.
The support available for the preparation and implementation of projects funded through the European Structural and Investment Funds was also presented, with particular emphasis on integrated urban and territorial development. A specific example for such support was showcased – the assistance provided to the municipality of Novo Mesto, Slovenia, for the integrated assessment of their investment programme. The audience benefitted from the participation of a representative of the municipality, who described the challenges they faced and the ways in which the received support helped to resolve them.
The workshop also examined the concept of investment platforms, which are flexible tools for aggregating projects which would individually be too small or risky, thus facilitating their access to finance. The relevance of investment platforms to the urban context was of particular interest to the audience and was illustrated with specific examples of challenges that investment platforms can help address. The importance of technical assistance for investment platforms was stressed as key for the proper identification and preparation of projects.
The audience demonstrated lively interest in the discussed topics through active participation in the Q&A sessions. Questions related to the specific assistance available to small cities, the screening process, the ways to request support, etc. were addressed.
Take away message
Cities need integrated place-based advisory support to prepare and implement investment projects. A single delivery mechanism that can provide such support is key to meet these needs.
URBIS provides cities with the advisory services they need to prepare urban projects in an integrated, planning-led and efficient manner. URBIS helps projects reach a bankable stage faster and attract investments from various sources.
The identified demand for such a service is substantial and there is significant potential to upscale it later.
The advisory support we received helped us shift our thinking from focusing on individual projects to planning in a holistic programme-based way, thus overcoming silos between sectors and priorities. This has enhanced the impact of investments and has allowed better and faster delivery of results for the benefit of citizens.
Development manager from Novo Mesto municpality,