Attractive and participative cities: the open laboratories of the Emilia-Romagna Region
Axis 6 ERDF-ROP Emilia-Romagna “Attractive and Participative Cities” highlights the relevance of cities: they are pivotal players which, by making the most out of ICT inventions, can foster the cohesion of communities, encourage active participation and multi-governance models, enhance the promotion of cultural heritage.
These objectives are achieved by supporting the establishment of 10 open labs: public spaces, previously used for other purposes (e.g. former schools, cloisters, factories), were regenerated and supplied with innovative technologies which are accessible to society at large (citizens, SMEs, schools, public administrations).

Open labs are the focal point of the Urban Agenda and the physical hub of the Digital Agenda of the region. These spaces boost open and bottom-up innovations where digital competences ar improved through a series of concrete actions:
Trainings to decrease the digital divide;
Hackathons for stakeholders with different backgrounds to find creative and technology-driven solutions;
Events to enjoy the cultural and creative offer of the territory through digital innovations;
Laboratories to develop prototypes thanks to the devices of the open labs and open innovation approaches.

Each open labs puts technology, innovation, cooperation and participation at the centre. Nevertheless they are also characterized by a specific theme, defined according to the peculiarities of their territory: most of them recognized CCIs as a core element.

Resources needed

Axis 6 ERDF-ROP Emilia-Romagna devoted € 30.013.716 to the establishment of 10 open labs, which are the means to fulfill the objectives of the axis: citizen participation in urban development through ICT; promotion of the cultural identity and peculiarities of specific territoritories.

Evidence of success

To give a concrete overview, this section focuses on 1 specific lab: Casa Bufalini, which opened in the second half of 2019.
Initiatives organized in ‘19 and ‘20:
(P stands for people)
1 launch event: 300 P
2 coding workshops: 22 P
2 digital literacy workshops: 34 P
1 digital transformation in SMEs workshop: 30 P
1 innovative schools event: 25 P
1 design thinking workshop: 28 P
1 project work with high schools: 23 P
7 webinars: 278 P
12 videos: 7000 visualizations
1 call to select CC

Potential for learning or transfer

Most European regions have foreseen in their strategies Digital and Urban Agendas: public administrations have been investing several resources to reduce the digital divide and enhance SMEs competitiveness through technology-driven solutions.
At the same time, the concept of urban areas has been experiencing major changes: cities throughout the world are becoming open labs where new participative solutions and innovative governance models are tested.
In this scenario, culture and creativity stemming from a specific urban area becomes a competitive feature which, thanks to technologies working as enablers, can lead to innovative processes, services/products for the market.
Also, administrations often own public unused premises which generate maintenance costs. Rethinking these buildings as a hub for citizens, creatives, technologists is a win-win approach: it fosters the improvement of communities, social cohesion and competitivenes and it allows for a good use of public spaces.

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Main institution
Emilia-Romagna region
Emilia-Romagna, Italy (Italia)
Start Date
January 2016
End Date


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