New solutions in sustainable urban development made visible

This summer, Gothenburg City was one of four cities to be awarded substantial funding from Vinnova to develop an innovation platform within sustainable urban development. VINNOVA is Sweden’s Innovation Agency, set up to promote sustainable growth by improving the conditions for innovation and funding needs-driven research.

The funding awarded to Gothenburg City is one step in Vinnova’s work to encourage attractive sustainable cities, aimed at identifying lasting solutions to the societal challenges we face. Other cities that have been given similar assignments are Lund, Malmö and Borås.

Innovation in urban development – what does it mean? And what is actually an innovation platform?

Well, one way to view an innovation platform is as a forum, an arena, where a number of different stakeholders work together to capture new ideas, test and put into practice new knowledge that will develop Gothenburg in a socially, economically and environmentally sustainable way.

- This initiative is about getting the community, industry and academia to work together to try new models, processes and techniques, says Jessica Algehed, Mistra Urban Futures. And to profile Gothenburg as an international leader within innovative urban development.

Three parties are the driving forces behind the work to set up an innovation platform in Gothenburg over the next two years. The three are Gothenburg City Council, Johannebergs Science Park and Mistra Urban Futures – all already deeply involved with different ways to encourage more sustainable thinking within urban development.

There are currently a number of pilot initiatives underway in this area, which is why one objective is to collect information about these projects and highlight successful examples. Where the other cities included in Vinnova’s initiative work in specific geographical areas, Gothenburg uses large parts of the city as testing arenas and showcases.

- We will use Älvstaden as a testing arena. The Älvstaden Vision means to be open to the world, inclusive, green and dynamic. The strategies used to achieve this are to unite the city, get close to the water, and strengthen the centre. One example is that we will use this area to try new ways of building different types of sustainable housing, in a way that allows as many people as possible to find accommodation close to where they work and to various types of services, explains Anders Svensson, City Planning Office, Gothenburg City Council.

During the autumn, a temporary management team will put together a strategy for the next two years and determine which projects to include in the platform work. In February, a steering group and a permanent management team will be in place.

- Right now, intense efforts are underway to map the challenges faced by Gothenburg City Council, says Maria Ådahl at Johanneberg Science Park. This will then provide the basis for how to divide the work into concrete projects, something which must be done within the innovation platform.

The management team will issue regular updates on how the work to set up an innovation platform in Gothenburg is progressing.