22 July 2016

Infocus kickoff


Orkestra is part of a working group whose objective is to perform a joint diagnosis and analysis of the challenges facing Bilbao in the field of economic development and define areas of action. The group, formed by representatives from institutional, business and knowledge spheres, will also work on the articulation of these areas of action with the Basque Country’s RIS3 strategy.

The group will define an Action Plan for three sectors of specialisation of the city: creative industries, digital economy and advanced services, from a perspective of contribution to the territory as a whole (Bizkaia-Basque Country). It is hoped that as a result of the Action Plan 3 projects will be defined to be developed in collaboration.

The first session of the working group was held on July 21 with the participation of representatives of all the entities convened: Leyre Bilbao (Basque Government); Ainara Basurko, (Provincial Government of Bizkaia); Gorka Artola (University of the Basque Country); Lander Beloki (Mondragon University); Guillermo Dorronsoro (Deusto University); Fernando Espiga (Tecnalia); Tomás Iriondo (GAIA); Luis Fernando Martinez (AVIC); Itziar Mena (Eiken); and Edurne Magro (Orkestra).

Xabier Otxandiano, councillor for Economic Development, Commerce and Employment of Bilbao City Council, welcomed the participants and emphasised the significance of the fact that the group is formed by the three levels of government, the business sector and the academic sphere. Meanwhile Nora Sarasola, director of Bilbao Ekintza, explained that the project will seek to respond to the question of how to align regional and local levels in RIS3 strategies and the role played by cities in this context.

To initiate the debate Edurne Magro, researcher at Orkestra, presented a quantitative approach to the three sectors of specialisation of the city. In this context she highlighted the fact that creative industries face the challenge of adapting to rapid changes in the environment; that in the case of the digital economy, it should be borne in mind that this is a heterogeneous group of industries dominated by services; and that, in the case of advanced services, innovation is of an intangible nature.

The group’s work is part of the In focus project, led by Bilbao and financed by the European Commission's URBACT programme and in which seven other European cities participate: Bielsko-Biala (Poland), Bucharest (Romania), Frankfurt (Germany), Grenoble (France), Ostrava (Czech Republic), Plasencia (Spain) and Turin (Italy). The lessons learned from the collaboration of this network of cities will result in a methodology to develop integrated specialisation strategies between cities and regions based upon the alignment of the relevant stakeholders.

This is a pioneering project because in spite of the strategic role of cities in regional development, until now they have not been sufficiently taken into account, neither in conceptualisation, nor in the implementation of RIS3 strategies.