#45 Ermua & The drOp Project: "Innovation is the Key" for Sustainable Urban Development

Episode 51 October 04, 2023 00:28:10
#45 Ermua & The drOp Project: "Innovation is the Key" for Sustainable Urban Development
Smart in the City – The BABLE Podcast
#45 Ermua & The drOp Project: "Innovation is the Key" for Sustainable Urban Development

Oct 04 2023 | 00:28:10


Hosted By

Tamlyn Shimizu

Show Notes

In this first episode from our Greencities S-Moving series, we travelled to the Basque Country in Spain and delved into the Municipality of Ermua's innovative approach to sustainable urban development with Josu Ansola, the Director of Economic Development of Ermua.

With him, we explored the DrOp project, which focuses on revitalising neighbourhoods, fostering citizen participation, and promoting economic development. Josu also told us about Red Innpulso, the Spanish Network of Cities of Science and Innovation, of which Ermua holds the presidency with the municipality of Viladecans.


Overview of the episode:

01:27 - Teaser: If Ermua was a dish, what would be the secret ingredient to its success?

02:14 - What led Josu to his current role as Director of Economic Development of Ermua?

02:58 - How do innovation and economic development interact in the urban context?

03:29 - What is the Innpulso Network?

04:39 - What is the DrOp Project?

08:43 - How does it put the residents at the heart of social district generation?

11:01 - How will this regeneration process promote new business models and services?

12:14 - What innovations are part of this project?

14:09 - How does the project promote climate neutrality?

21:33 - Flip the Script: our guest is asking the questions!

24:30 - Ending Question: To you, what is a Smart City?


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View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

[00:00:06] Tamlyn Shimizu: Welcome to Smart in the City, the Bable podcast, where we bring together top actors in the Smart City arena, sparking dialogues and interactions around the stakeholders and themes most prevalent for today's citizens and tomorrow's generations. [00:00:21] Tamlyn Shimizu: I am your host, Tamlyn Shimizu, and I hope you will enjoy this episode and gain knowledge and connections to accelerate the change for a better urban life. Smart in the city is brought to you by BABLE Smart Cities. We enable processes from research and strategy development to co creation and implementation. To learn more about us, please visit the BABLE platform at bable-smartcities.eu So today I'm here in the beautiful city of Malaga. I'm at this event called Green Cities s Moving, and I'm sitting down with stakeholders at the expo as a media partner, talking with all of them about projects, initiatives, their experiences in the field. So we're looking to disseminate these results to the rest of the world via this podcast in very lively discussions and dialogues. So thanks also to Figma for helping us facilitate this via our media partnership. So today I'm here with Joshua Ansula, who is the director of economic development for the municipality of Ermua in the Basque country. Welcome. [00:01:23] Josu Ansola: Thank you, Tamlin, and thank you for having me. [00:01:27] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, yeah, it's absolutely my pleasure. I'm really interested to dig into especially one of the initiatives that you're working on, one of these projects. But before we get started, I have a little teaser question, and it is imagine your municipality is like an excellent item of food. What would be the secret ingredient to its success? [00:01:51] Josu Ansola: Sure. Sugar. [00:01:54] Tamlyn Shimizu: Very confident reaction. Why sugar? [00:01:58] Josu Ansola: Because it's the piece of the ingredient that unify all the elements when you really work the sugar. And it has the glue. [00:02:11] Tamlyn Shimizu: The glue for the recipe. [00:02:13] Josu Ansola: Yes. [00:02:14] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, very good answer. All right, so I want to get started with a little bit about your background. Can you tell us where did you come from? What led you into this role today? [00:02:25] Josu Ansola: Okay, I born near Ermua and this geographic place, and I know well Ermua. I worked in consultancy more than 20 years in strategic consultancy, and I also university professor in the field of innovation and economic development. And from 2018 I work in the municipality of Firmware as economic development director. [00:02:58] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, very good. How do you think because you mentioned innovation and economic development, how do you think that those interact? [00:03:07] Josu Ansola: Because I think that innovation is the key piece for really good economic development. Without innovation, economic development artificial and probably for short term. But if you want to maintain a long term economic development, innovation is the key. [00:03:29] Tamlyn Shimizu: Innovation is the key. Okay, perfect. I also know that Ermua is holding the presidency right. Co chairing the Impulso Network together with Villa de Kans. What does that actually mean? [00:03:44] Josu Ansola: Okay, Impulse is a network of more than 80 cities, spanish cities that as recognized as science and innovation, cities by the Ministry of Innovation. Spanish Ministry of Innovation. Then it's a network with the aim of share experiences and learn from each other and keep collaborating for bigger projects that one can do it. And its presidency is shared in this moment, is shared with Herma municipality and Villarrecas municipality. Specifically, the mayors are the copresident of the network. And for MOAS small city town, 60,000 citizens. It's really an honor to co chair this network. [00:04:39] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, small cities are getting more and more of these opportunities. I love. And you're part of a European Bauhaus project and it's called Drop. Right. And can you describe it for us today? [00:04:56] Josu Ansola: Yes. Europe has challenged in deploying its strategy as a greener, more digital and more social Europe. Because throughout Europe there are what are called as social districts which are buildings constituted between the previous century and these buildings were built without any civili criteria, energy efficiency. Efficiency. Then Europe, when it wants to deploy its strategy in these places, has really big problems. And Europe is looking for a methodology that helps it to deploy the strategy in these places. Then the Drop project aims to create this methodology that can be strength throughout Judo to address this problem. And in the case of Ermua, we also have this type of places and we have selected Santa Ana neighborhood, a small neighborhood of Ermua, as pilot area, where we can deploy this strategy. The main aim of drop target. [00:06:20] Tamlyn Shimizu: How far along in the project are you? [00:06:23] Josu Ansola: More or less in the middle of the project. [00:06:25] Tamlyn Shimizu: In the middle? [00:06:25] Josu Ansola: Yes. We have started in October of 2022 and it's till September of 2025. [00:06:37] Tamlyn Shimizu: Okay. Can you paint a picture maybe for us on what that looks like? How do you transform this district, this neighborhood? [00:06:50] Josu Ansola: This methodology can be really wide. Any city can deploy this strategy of this type of problem in many ways. In this case, the project has two pillars social innovation and economic development. We want in terms of social innovation, the poet promotes the participation of the citizens in processes of co creation. We want that these citizens of these places has the opportunity to think about the future of his neighborhood. And in addition, the neighborhood we will deploy implement an office where any citizen can consult support in the process of neighborhoods, housing, rehabilitation. Then it's like centers, the center of the neighborhood where all the citizens can share their needs, in this case with the municipality. In terms of economic development as the second pillar, the Drop project aims to attract and stimulates the economic development by promoting cultural and creative industries. It also aims to explore in the field of economic development, also want to explore another type of energy generation efficiency models. Then this pillar of economic development is shared by creative cultural industries and the energy generation about working with communities. Energy generation communities. [00:08:43] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, that's really well explained. So thank you. You mentioned the citizen involvement as one of these pillars basically really crucial to the project. And you mentioned a hub, right, that citizens can go to and actively engage. What other ways do you plan to engage with the local residents in this field? [00:09:08] Josu Ansola: We think that this cocreation starts with citizens in Bombay from the initial phase of the project. Then they are participating in the design phase of the project, what they want to be in the future, what they want to be their neighborhood in the future. But not only in second phase where you have to design what you want. No, what you want at the beginning. At the beginning, yeah. [00:09:43] Tamlyn Shimizu: So you've already started this process with them? [00:09:45] Josu Ansola: Yes. [00:09:46] Tamlyn Shimizu: Okay. Yeah. And how are those results? What are you hearing? [00:09:49] Josu Ansola: People say they have designed some scenario, different scenario, because all citizens are different. And we have worked with this scenario, we have worked with other relevant agents that it placed or can contribute to this evolution of the neighborhood. And we are now in the phase to select more probably the most wanted scenario by the citizens. We haven't yet do it. And after they design this future scenario, we will select they can promote ideas for concrete projects to develop in this field. And as municipality, as project panel, we can see what's the opportunity to deploy these projects, prioritize it, and of course, finally will be the CDC will can select the main project to be developed in the short term. [00:11:01] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, no, that sounds really good. And then to just elaborate more on the economic development pillar of the project. How do you envision this regeneration process promoting new business models and services? Like, what is really the dream economic development that comes out of this? [00:11:21] Josu Ansola: We know that this part of the problem will be the more complicated because it's not up to you. You can promote it, but it's not up to you to attract cultural and creative industries in this place. But we also think that economic development is fundamental for the life of the neighborhood. And the presence of economic activity guarantees the presence of people and relationships and activity in general. We believe that by fostering this type of businesses and dynamics, we can generate new and more attractive ecosystems and add value to the space of this neighborhood. [00:12:14] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, that sounds really good. Sounds challenging, sounds very multifaceted, but it sounds really good. So, of course, because this is a Smart City podcast, I have to ask you about what are the technologies, the innovations that you're going to put as part of this project? [00:12:34] Josu Ansola: One of the characteristics of this neighborhood is that mainly citizens tend to be older than in other places because you know that these buildings are really more older. Then we can contribute to the quality of life with technology of these people because, for example, the people that lives alone or people that has difficulties to communicate with the families or we can contribute with technology to create nissier life for these people because in these neighborhoods the space doesn't help them to do this type of relationship. Because accessibility or the other type of difficulties then we don't know which type of technology project because they have to define it in this process of co creation. They have to say what are they prioritized their priorities? And after all, we can think what type of technology can answer to these priorities. Then we are in this phase. But the project has specific phase to create digital technology to create or involve digital technologies to answer these priorities that has defined by the citizens. [00:14:09] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, that makes sense. What about the climate neutrality aspect of this? What can you do to also promote climate neutrality to get the buildings more energy efficient, those types of actions? [00:14:27] Josu Ansola: We are exploring this type of solutions in this case by concentrated in the process of generations energy generation. Because one of the characteristics of these places, of these neighborhoods is that if you want to be more efficient, the investments that you need are really big with this type of buildings. In the case of Santana, it's really well oriented to generate energy by the sun. Then we are exploring, we know more or less what technology can contribute to this design of neutrality. But we are exploring which business model or what management model of this generation can contribute to all the neighborhood, not only for 1 billion or one family, considering all the neighborhood as neutral in the future of generating energy for their needs. [00:15:39] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, no, that's really helpful. I understand that this project also involves other cities, elva in Estonia and Matera in Italy. How are these cities also working within the project? Particularly of course with digitalization culture, creative industries and how are you collaborating with them? [00:16:01] Josu Ansola: They contribute as pill cities in the projects. As I have previously mentioned, digitalization and the promotion of cultural and creative industries as a driver of economic development are the pilots of which the project is based. And in this case, Estonia is one of the most dedicated countries in the world. So we have a lot to learn, a lot to learn from them. On the other hand, Matena in Italy has undergone a very big transformation process where cultural and creative industries have also been promoted as a driver of this change. And we also understand that we have a lot of to learn from them and that's why we are collaborating in this project as pure cities. [00:17:00] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah. So how does it work? You're sharing learnings from each of your pilots on a regular basis, kind of taking lessons from other. [00:17:11] Josu Ansola: We have started with a diagnosis for Santana. We have established the baseline where Santa Anais. This diagnosis we have shared with Elva in Estonia and Marcel in Italy this diagnosis based on data. Then they also started to consider this data as day diagnosis. And after all, in this co creation process. We will also share the methodology with them. And after all, in the needs that we have identified for Santana, they can contribute in the area of specialization. For example, if we identify that we have some detailization needs for Santana, we can share with Estonia, with Elva, and they can promote, they can share their experience for us. And we can implement this technology, for example, because it's considered to keep some pilots in the project considering the peer learning process. And in the case of metera, it's the same. We have shared with them what we are working in the diagnosis in the co creation process, and they also can contribute to giving us their experience in the promotion of culturally creative industries. [00:18:46] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, so this bi directional learning process bi directional, yeah. Very nice. It's useful for cities not to feel alone in the process. So I really like this model of doing these pilots together. Now I want to give you the chance to talk, if you like. I like to give the open floor in case we didn't touch on something that you think is really important for the audience to either know about the Drop project or any of the other work that you're doing, or about the city. Do you have anything that you want to share with the listeners today? [00:19:26] Josu Ansola: Maybe the most interesting project that we have now developing is creating Elmwa's Laboratory as a living lab, more or less. We have worked a lot in this idea, but we really started having results when we reinforce the public private collaboration with really relevant agents of the geographic zone. That where we are. And we started having the space for companies that has technologies that they really want to pilot in real spaces, in real cases. We are learning a lot in this process. And yesterday we also submit Origin Europe project in this field. And I think that in the real mass city that we have talked before the interview, the space as a pilot laboratory is key for development of technologies in real space because you only can test them in real cases. Yeah, it's like giving an easy space to develop these type of technologies that of course will contribute to the public service. [00:21:33] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, absolutely. I totally agree with that approach. So I'll be watching your space to see how that develops. Now we get to our fun segment and the segment I've selected for you today is called Flip the Script. [00:21:52] Tamlyn Shimizu: Flip the script. You are the one asking the questions and I'll be the one answering them. [00:22:00] Josu Ansola: Wow. [00:22:01] Tamlyn Shimizu: Do you have a question for me? [00:22:05] Josu Ansola: Yes. In this interview we have shared some ideas, but about the cities, about the smart city, about the technology, about the green cities, about the neutrality and after you have told that you have been before in six interviews no. [00:22:26] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yes, exactly. [00:22:29] Josu Ansola: The idea or the conclusion that different people have are more or less homogeneous, are differences? What are the tendencies? [00:22:43] Tamlyn Shimizu: Very good question. There's challenges across the board that all cities have faced. In my interviews at Green Cities actually you didn't actually mention it exactly, but a lot of the cities mentioned financing because I spoke to a lot of smaller cities, so a lot of cities mentioned financing. Classic challenges. But everyone is taking a little bit of a different approach to it. You're the first one that's talked about a kind of living lab approach and piloting more as introducing innovation into the city. So that is not as homogeneous as the other one. So that's a really unique project also that you're doing specifically around social innovation and citizen engagement. Citizen engagement is always a topic in all of my interviews. Everyone always mentions it as being a key factor. So it always makes me wonder a little bit on we talk about it a lot. So where's the roadblock happening in citizen engagement and participatory processes? I think there's a lot of great work being done but everyone keeps on mentioning it still, so it obviously is still a challenge. So yeah, those are some areas. Everyone has a little bit of a different focus based off specific challenges. But there's always a lot to learn from each other and a lot of sharing that still needs to be done, I think in the space. [00:24:11] Josu Ansola: Thank you. And probably the citizen engagement will be the most difficult part of all this. Not project not only, but all this approach for local development. [00:24:27] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, absolutely. We've also spoken a fair amount about economic development in these episodes and I think tying the economic development with innovation, as you mentioned is going to be really crucial moving forward. So there's a lot of terms that we have that kind of live in silos right now. We talk about, for example, innovation and we talk about economic development, then we talk about climate neutrality, we talk about smart. But really it's really all in one, right? We need to do it at the same time altogether coherently. Yeah, that's a great question. Thank you. We should switch places sometime. That was very good. Also spur of the moment question. So wonderful. Then the last question, you touched on it already. But the very last question that we have is the question we ask every single guest. And maybe you can elaborate on this a bit to you. What is a smart city? [00:25:29] Josu Ansola: Well, for me, I think that we can't forget where I start. The concept of a smart city. Smart city is always really linked with technology. And after this definition we also have read or have heard a lot of the smart city people, yes, different people can understand what smart is for them. But the definition of smart city is linked with technology. I don't want to say that everything is technology. Without technology we can be really smart, but technology is the ingredient that helps to be smarter. But we need people that really want and believe in technology to be smart. [00:26:37] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah. So technology is the sugar, maybe. [00:26:41] Josu Ansola: Yes. Really good. And people is the heat that we need to combat this sugar in glue. Yeah, we have to. [00:26:57] Tamlyn Shimizu: Nice analogy. Yeah, I like it. [00:27:00] Josu Ansola: I like it if it wasn't planned. [00:27:02] Tamlyn Shimizu: I know that's the beauty of what comes out on the podcast. Right. A lot of it is not planned, so that's wonderful. This is ashibo. This is it. So thank you so much for coming on to the podcast. I really appreciate your valuable insights here. Also, we'll definitely link more information about the Drop project. I always love it when you can kind of talk very specifically about a project. So thank you for that. I really appreciate it. [00:27:30] Josu Ansola: It was a pleasure. Thank you. [00:27:32] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, absolutely. And to all of our listeners, don't forget, you can always create a free account at bable-smartcities.eu and you can find out more about Smart City projects, solutions, implementations. So thank you very much. [00:27:46] Tamlyn Shimizu: Thank you all for listening. I'll see you at the next stop on the journey to a better urban life.

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