In more detail, the objectives of the meeting were:
- Mapping different models for connecting science and policy on the local level
- Reflecting on the Future of Cities report by JRC and the High Level Expert Group report (pre-final version) by DGR&I
- Updating participants on the developments of the Urban Initiative, Horizon Europe and Urban Innovative Action
- Developing a common understanding of city science issues
- Developing a common vision on concrete future cooperation to reinforce flow of information and tools between cities and academia
Participants welcomed the opportunity provided by the European Commission and Professor Caroline Nevejan, Chief Science Officer for the City of Amsterdam, to continue exchanging research and innovation experiences and knowledge, and to move forward in identifying means for concrete cooperation. The presentation by DDG Charlina Vitcheva on the Future of Cities report and by DGR&I on the High Level Expert Group report on Innovating Cities provided the context for discussions on the role of the city in both policy for research and research for policy.
In the February Roundtable several city science issues were identified and summarized in the Information note, being: a) governance and finance between municipality and university, b) learning and communication between science and policy and c) a research paradigm for City Science. The issues were discussed in working groups and its results are available in the annex. The discussion and the mapping showed strong convergence in the challenges of cities. Discussions took into account the existing overview of EU funded actions, activities and initiatives related to urban issues throughout Commission Services dealing with urban matters. This is published in the “EU Research & Innovation for and with Cities-Yearly mapping Report”.
Overall, gathering City Science Officers, i.e. those officers working on the interface between city policies and science, proved a useful way to discuss how cities may best work on broad interdisciplinary and strategic urban challenges with a knowledge component. Those officers
have a role in promoting a cross-sectorial, systemic and integrated approach that combines all kinds of research and innovation (digital, technological, social, nature-based, cultural). Combining the experience of these practitioners with the knowledge of network organizations and the European Commission on both urban and R&I issues results in strong gathered intelligence on city science. All participants declared interest in continuing working together in the context of the City Science Initiative through both online means and in-person meetings. JRC took the initiative to create an online environment that will support the initiative and several cities indicated their willingness to host future meetings.
During the meeting it was agreed to focus on a limited number of concrete thematic urban challenges through focussed ‘deep dives’. The purpose of these deep dives is to design concrete policy approaches to such challenges, based on available research and expertise to be made available by relevant stakeholders. In this approach, a 'knowledge dossier' will be established that brings together all the relevant research that has been done in a European context by the Joint Research Center, under the Urban Agenda of the EU partnerships, Cohesion Policy actions targeting cities (the Urbact programme, the Urban Innovative Actions) and Horizon 2020 projects, such as the Smart and Sustainable Cities calls 2016-2020. Doing so will be a way to increase valorisation and dissemination of this research and allow upscaling and implementing of lessons learned and holistic solutions in a wider array of cities. The involvement of City Science Officers is crucial in translating this research into policy and local strategies, to foster connections between cities and academia and to ensure linking with the existing network of H2020 participating cities (more than 150 cities).
The thematic urban challenges identified and the corresponding lead cities are:
- Circular economy, Hamburg
- Mental health, Warsaw
- Sustainable urban mobility, Cluj-Napoca
- Air quality, Paris
- Tech and the citizen, Emilia-Romagna
To make sure the effort answers to actual demands of cities, per thematic issue one city will develop its policy-research question in more detail. A format will be provided to do so. The European Commission DG’s will collect the relevant research for each of the challenges, based on these policy-research questions. Other cities can join a working group corresponding to one or more of these city challenges.
A working method will be designed to make sure the right urban actors are involved and that the synthesis of gathered materials answers to the local needs. At the next meeting of the CSI the city challenges and the knowledge dossier will be discussed. The meeting will be held on September 24th 2019 from 12:00 to 18:00 in Brussels, back-to-back with the 'cities' discussion as part of the Research and Innovations days. For this meeting all 20 cities, networks and Commission services will be invited. More detailed information will be sent in advance. Based on this meeting an overall planning for 2019-2020 can be established.