20 October 2017
“Although physical spaces are not crucial factors, they are important when supporting smart specialisation strategies”, stated Xabier Otxandiano, Councillor, Area of Economic Growth, Trade and Employment, Bilbao Town Hall. He made this statement during an Urbact Local Group session on smart specialisation spaces, promoted by Bilbao Ekintza, in the framework of the European project InFocus and held on 20 October.
At the sixth session, in the working group that includes public and private agents, the focus was on opportunities that the Zorrotzaurre project offers for specialisation strategy in Bilbao. Xabier Otxandiano presented the project and its various stages. He informed the team about the challenges that Bilbao is facing as a city and which ones must be tackled in the coming years to position it "as a reference for medium-sized cities at the European level, with the capacity to attract talent and created skilled jobs” through specialisation strategy.
The session enabled joint reflection on the role of “urban parks as opposed to the classic model of technology parks that has prevailed to the present "as raised by Itziar Epalza, General Manager of the Basque Country Technology Parks Network. Among other topics, reference was made to the importance of first-hand knowledge on the evolution of other cities that have opted for development of urban parks to support specialisation processes and economic and social development policies in the city.
Concerning this subject, Miren Estensoro, researcher at Orkestra, underscored some European cities which are benchmarks-- Nantes (France), Espoo (Finland), among others. They have urban spaces that afford opportunities to speed up specialisation processes and are now being studied in the framework of the Bilbao Next Lab project. Among other factors, Estensoro highlighted that “it is important to coordinate urban development, socio-economic development and space-planning policies with processes being facilitated to promote this specialisation”.