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| City of tomorrow and cultural heritage – an overviewMost of the projects funded under ‘Key action 4: City of tomorrow and cultural heritage’ of the EU’s Fifth Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development have now been completed, with the last ones due to be finalised by the end of 2005. Overall, the results have been extremely positive and demonstrate the considerable potential of R&D to support sustainable development policies in the urban environment.
One of the important features of this key action was the high level of user community participation – whether city councils, local or regional authorities, city planning administrations or the business community. This was actively encouraged by the Commission and indicates the strong problem-solving orientation of this sector. Overall, 39% of project contractors were potential users of new methodologies and tools, and 61% were developers.
The participation of city authorities, as the most important end-users of the project results, was significant, with a total of 963 cities involved in the 138 projects funded. Of these, 296 took on a proactive role within the project, while the remaining 667 served primarily as test beds or case studies. This high level of involvement shows that cities recognise the potential role of R&D in helping to resolve practical problems at a local level.
The participation of SMEs in this area was also notably high in comparison with other ‘key action’ areas, accounting for almost 26% of total funding. This indicates that there is a demand from industry and the service sector for a more sustainable approach to urban development and a willingness to invest in this direction. It also suggests that the results will be translated into applications in the marketplace.
By involving the user community, particularly the business sector, KA4 has sought to ensure the rapid application of results at local level and lead the way in a new type of environmental research capable of making a measurable impact on sustainable development. It has, in particular, helped to improve communication between researchers and end-users in this particular field, blazing a trail towards positive and fruitful future collaboration. The practical nature of this partnership is demonstrated by the fact that some 47% of project deliverables are aimed at providing local authorities with concrete tools for the implementation of sustainable development – and the rapid uptake and exploitation of these tools is an indication of the need for ongoing urban research.