Fifth METROS Workshop: Innovation and Entrepreneurship
From April 20-23 in the city of Bilbao, the Urban and Regional Policy Program held its fifth METROS workshop on the policy themes of innovation and entrepreneurship. The METROS initiative led by GMF with the support of the Compagnia di San Paolo, brings together a network of four southern European cities – Torino and Genoa, Italy; Bilbao, Spain; and Thessaloniki, Greece – to explore how to connect and build a metropolitan approach to economic regeneration and innovation.
The workshop in Bilbao, organized in coordination with the City of Bilbao and Bilbao International, focused on exploring successes, challenges, and ways to improve project implementation for the development of entrepreneurial and innovative ecosystems in the four participating cities. After engaging the cities regularly and following their progress since the last workshop, GMF identified three key themes and questions from which most of the challenges were emerging in the development of their respective ecosystems:
- Creating the right environment for the ecosystem – How can cities create the right growth environment for entrepreneurs?
- Creating and growing sustainable partnerships for the development of the ecosystem – How can cities better tap into capital resources and create partnerships?
- Connecting the ecosystem to global resources – How cam cities make global connections to allow their ecosystem to be globally competitive?
In order to explore these productively, the workshop built on the lessons and design thinking methods learned in the previous workshops. The participants started by outlining their recent successes and challenges and used peer to peer discussions to think about critically and assess their project agendas. At this stage in the METROS initiative, the participants were able to present their achievements, opportunities for growth and improvement, and challenges to further development.
GMF invited Videesha Kunkulagunta from Redstone Digital GmbH, Ruben Nieuwenhuis of StartupAmsterdam, and Simon Schäfer of Factory Berlin to engage participants throughout the sessions and present successful strategies from other European ecosystems. These experts represented different sectors, cultures, and perspectives on how to build and grow thriving ecosystems at the local level. On top of providing valuable insights and experience throughout the sessions, every expert also led a deep dive session focused on each of the three themes identified above. In these sessions the experts challenged participants to efficiently utilize local resources and involve private agents from within the ecosystems to inform the local policy-making process, as well as to sow the seeds that would allow innovative ecosystems to develop organically and according to local attributes and core competencies.
The workshop also featured the work done by the city of Bilbao, so that participants could see first-hand some of the successes and challenges the city has worked through over the course of the METROS process. Participants visited relevant elements of the Bilbao ecosystem and met with stakeholders and policymakers to gain a deeper understanding and take home lessons about how the project is coming together locally.
After two full days of peer interaction and learning, presentations, and site tours, each city applied the tools learned about throughout the METROS workshops, utilizing GMF as a resource, and prioritized action items to be carried out before the next METROS workshop. Over the next months GMF will support participants and check-in with them regularly to inform and optimize the design of the next and final METROS workshop in Turin scheduled for December 2016.