Cluj: The Municipality and the Cluj Cultural Centre announce the development of the first Urban Innovation Unit in the Eastern Europe

November, 5th. Mayor Emil Boc announced that the city of Cluj-Napoca is preparing an Urban Innovation Unit following the models from Boston, Pittsburg, Dublin or Barcelona.

Cluj 2.1 Urban Innovation Unit is developed by the Cluj Cultural Centre in partnership with the Centre for Civic Innovation and Imagination within the City Hall and in collaboration with other key players of the city: Universities, tech and business clusters, civil society, cultural sector. The Unit researches, tests and prototypes alternatives solutions to solve major urban challenges such as urban mobility, housing and future of work, by collecting and analysing data, building future scenarios and measuring the impact of experimental interventions to influence social and economic behaviour.

”The local administration has the capacity to intervene directly when in comes to infrastructure, prioritising investments or improving local laws. However, all these measures within our power have to first of all look after our citizens needs and wishes and to take their ideas and intuitions into account. Together we can transform the city and make it work better for us all. This is why to create an Urban Innovation Unit is of a high importance for the city of Cluj-Napoca. It will bring together the resources and knowledge our citizens, our Academia and our business and cultural sectors have, in order to support the local administration keep up with the rapid and ongoing transformation process the city is exposed to. The Urban Innovation Unit developed by the Cluj Cultural Centre will work closely with the Centre for Civic Innovation and Imagination within the City Hall and our aim is to fully transfer the project to a dedicated department in the local administration in the next few years”, said Mayor Boc.

The idea of this urban innovation unit was tested in 2018 by the Cluj Cultural Centre through its Innovation Fund, a programme which developed several pilot  projects in the field of urban mobility and gained a 5,6 million euro grant from Urban Innovative Actions for a research and development project on the topic of future of work.

”In urban mobility we developed three civic engagement projects in the neighbourhoods of the city and we conducted data mining and analysis project at the local level. The neighbourhood interventions showed us how do the citizens imagine spacial transformation for better use of the public space so they can spend more time in their neighbourhoods and reduce the frequency of their commutes to the city centre. On the other hand, the Mobility Pact helped us understand better how do the citizens want to make better use of the transportation options they have in the city. Based on this information, we selected new pilot project to work on in 2019”, said Anamaria Vrabie, the new unit\’s Director.

Cluj 2.1 Urban Innovation Unit is a project of the Cluj Cultural Centre, a non-governmental organisation for cultural and urban development.The mission of the Centre is to mobilise culture, in partnership with other sectors, in order to contribute to both social transformation and urban development. The Cluj Cultural Centre has 70 members: the local cultural organisations and institutions, the universities of Cluj, clubs and business clusters, civil society organisations, local and regional administration.

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