On May 3, at the Ateneu Barcelonès, a discussion about the city, as part of a cycle entitled “Can our Cities Survive?”, recalling the book that Josep Lluís Sert, dean of the Harvard GSD, published in 1942. This session on “City, economy and society” it may look here.

The debate was presented as a dialogue, which I had the opportunity to moderate, with the participation of Isabel Sabadí, director of the [email protected] Association, Josep Samitier, director of the Institute of Bioengineering of Catalonia and Artur Serra, deputy director of the i2Cat Center, followed by a debate with those attending the event.

Throughout the session, some of the key factors that act in this complex system that we call the city were developed. I will highlight a few.

In the first place, the need to have a comprehensive systemic perspective of the city. It is a complex reality that must be contemplated from the different elements that compose it and their interrelationships. It cannot be understood from a union perspective, on the other hand common in our country. An integrating vision of different visions, knowledge and perspectives is necessary.

In this sense, the figures of the great urban planner Jane Jacobs and of Donella Meadows, author of the book ‘Thinking in Systems’ and leader of the first report of the Club of Rome on “the limits to growth”, of which we celebrate the 50th anniversary this year. I think that the work of these two authors should be disseminated in this country, essential to understand the complex current reality of the city.

Another outstanding aspect, in relation to the previous systemic vision, was the characterization of an innovative urban ecosystem such as urban space, based on the mix of uses, where it is possible to live and work in a sustainable environment that favors relationships and the exchange of ideas. The Open City by Richard Sennett. A building, even if it is painted in a fashionable color (be it green, orange or blue) and is called Hub, is not necessarily an innovative ecosystem. Today, the word “Hub” or ecosystem is commonly used and each public institution is promoting its family of Hubs.

It was also treatedhe importance of R&D and Innovation activities as typical of a city or an advanced country. The need to invest public and private resources in R&D activities and in active innovation policies was highlighted, where we would be at a critical moment in the sense of the need to rethink priorities and strategic orientations. In the case of R&D, to continue advancing on the positive path begun years ago, and in the case of innovation, to overcome the existing chronic deficit in relation to the most advanced European cities and regions.

Currently, Catalonia, both in terms of supply infrastructures and in terms of demand, presents a deficit in innovative capacity very worryingas we can see every year in the indicators of the Innovation Scoreboard of the European Union, where we are in the third division.

social innovation was treated from various perspectives. On the one hand, the phenomenon of ‘gentrification’ should be anticipated with active public policies for public housing and by connecting the educational system at all levels with innovative ecosystems. And promoting social innovation through figures such as a Citilab or space for the dissemination of digital culture and the meeting between companies, educational centers and citizens. Artur Serra also highlighted the need to rethink the innovation model based on the new logic posed by the digital world.

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Finally, as a practical conclusion, the idea arose of integrating innovative ecosystems such as [email protected] Barcelona with the function of a Citilab such as the one in Cornellà.

The final conclusion could be that both the city of Barcelona and the metropolitan area and other cities have much to learn from these and other aspects of the new city, from a new systemic and integrating vision of diverse disciplines and agents. In the current battle over the competitiveness of cities, some will be winners and some will lose. The first will be those capable of understanding and applying the new dynamics of innovative cities and their role in a global world.

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