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The three pillars of an innovation-intensive ecosystem

What ingredients allow us to say that a territory is ‘innovative’? The presence of a research and development pole seems primordial. But to promote and stimulate such a pole, the ‘Centrality of Territories’ programme focuses on two other pillars needed for the development of an innovation intensive ecosystem: the territorial and large-scale built-up area context and existence of a nearby airport that welcomes low cost airlines.

The three pillars of an innovation-intensive ecosystem

What do cities like Bergamo, Cambridge, Charleroi, Gerona, Lubick, Santander or Compiegne have in common? They all represent medium sized built-up areas and share a set of criteria in terms of their ratio with innovation. "Five main criteria have been accepted as significantly useful to study ecosystems which have innovation-intensive development policies", underscores Thierry Gidel, research scientist and lecturer at UTC, involved in the Centrality of Territories programme which brings together actors from the seven cities above. Among their similarities, each has a population of less than 500 000 inhabitants, a proximity with a large metropolitan area, the existence of a university centre, a historic and attractive town-centre and an international airport where low-cost companies are accepted. The objective of Centrality of Territories consists of analysing the various ingredients of these 'territories' and their interactions that encourage the development of the innovation-intensive ecosystems.

Attract and retain research scientists and engineers

While the "innovative" factor is especially underlined by Thierry Gidel and his colleagues, Michaël Vicente and Véronique Missérie - both of whom are research scientists at UTC - insist on "tourism" and "smart city" factors. As Thierry Gidel sees things, "these differing points of view are related inasmuch as a city can only develop its capacity to innovate if it proves attractive to creators, engineers and other actors needed to drive any form of innovation". It then become important to propose a culturally attractive local life-style and to ensure that regular, low cost international travel is affordable. Three ingredients that call for analysis are the built-up area context, thee transportation infrastructures and the Research and Innovation poles.

Numerous, varied actors ...

Subsequently, the actors identified should be involved in analysis of all the ingredients of urban ecosystems. This diversity of actors transpired at the most recent conference organized by the University of Bergamo, September 24-25, 2015 where the attendance was in excess of 150. Apart from the presence of representatives of the low-cost company Ryanair, the Mayor of Bergamo, the Deputy Director of Beauvais Airport and the President of UTC, Prof. Alain Storck, there were numerous experts in urban economics, tourism and from land planning agencies, plus research scientists and engineers from a wide range of specialties and also several elected personalities. The attendees were able to exchanges their experience and to reinforce the analysis they made of factors such as creativity, mobility and land planning so as to structure a European scaled territorial network. "Our objective is to better understand the role of these three ingredients on a local scale, on an urban scale and a territorial scale", adds Thierry Gidel.

... and as many, varied projects

The research work carried out by Thierry Gidel and his colleagues focus on the role played by a university of technology seen as a key factor in the development of a local innovation-intensive ecosystem. They reveal that territories evolves as a function of different dimensions. Factors such as engineering training courses, infrastructures, urban attractiveness and proximity of a large metropolitan area, as well as the capacity to 'use' a medium-sized built-up area as an experimental laboratory. The Centrality of Territories programme has generated several research projects that will be conducted in each territory of the group. In order to homogenize local research with a plurality of actors, a series of workshops will be organized to see how the projects can be structured and to deduce a work methodology. Indeed, it is vital that the observations and the way the data are processed are harmonized, so that later, meaningful comparative conclusions can be drawn from this research work. /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Tableau Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;}