Innovating Cities

Making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable through innovative, coordinated and systemic solutions for the urban environment

We will support science, research, and innovation, including a focus on social, technological, digital and nature-based innovation, robust science-policy interfaces in urban and territorial planning and policy formulation, as well as institutionalized mechanisms for sharing and exchanging information, knowledge and expertise, including the collection, analysis, standardization and dissemination of geographically-based, community-collected, high-quality, timely and reliable data, disaggregated by income, sex, age, race, ethnicity, migration status, disability, geographic location, and other characteristics relevant in national, sub-national, and local contexts.

Art. 157 of the Quito Declaration on Sustainable Cities and Human Settlements for All, Habitat III New Urban Agenda - United Nations, October 2016

Over the last two years cities have been recognised as key actors for achieving the targets set by major, international agreements such as the Paris Declaration on Climate Change, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Moreover, a dedicated agenda with priority actions for cities has been developed both at the European level with the Urban Agenda for the EU and at the international level with the Habitat III New Urban Agenda. A specific Sustainable Development Goal to be achieved by 2030 is also devoted to:

Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

SDG n.11

The Habitat III New Urban Agenda acknowledges Research and Innovation (R&I) as means of implementation for cities to meet the goals of the above mentioned international agreements. All the agreements above support integrated approaches, but to apply this in practice requires innovative thinking, methodologies and methods at various levels.

EU R&I can help create a sustainable city ecosystem by pushing a systemic approach and bridging between technological, digital, social, cultural and nature-based innovation.

The aim of the EU R&I agenda is to support cities and urban regions in becoming actors of open innovation and being open to the world as ambassadors of the European excellence in research and innovation. This will help them to accelerate the transition to sustainable, low-carbon societies.

An integrated Research and Innovation Framework for Smart and Sustainable Cities intends to:

  • Better co-ordinate, streamline and focus the existing and future research and innovation activities and initiatives on urban issues across Horizon 2020 and future Framework Programmes.
  • Enable a sustainable and systemic approach to innovation, by fostering co-creation, co-development and co-implementation with different actors and citizens in cities across the Union and worldwide.
  • Develop new business and governance models, mobilise new partnerships and investments, and facilitate market uptake of visionary solutions and approaches needed to enhance urban resilience.
  • Provide the knowledge and evidence base to inform decision on investments in key infrastructure for cities and urban regions as well as to inform policy-making, planning and land use management.

Europe can capitalise on over 30 years of investment in transnational EU Research and Innovation (R&I) on sustainable urban development. The EU investment in urban related projects alone in the first four years of Horizon 2020 amounts to around 1.7 billion EUR for 612 projects across the three pillars of Horizon 2020, Excellent Science, Industrial Leadership and Societal Challenges. The investment in FP7, FP6 and FP5 were respectively 1.9 billion EUR; 0.4 billion EUR and 0.5 billion EUR.