The exchange within international networks is very important. Many cities face the same global challenges, such as climate change. Through the exchange of experiences and best practice examples, the cities learn from each other and thereby manage to develop new and courageous approaches to solutions.
In 2022 there was an eventful weekend: In addition to Dortmund.Live, DORTBUNT and the Day of the Neighborhood, there was an event on the 27. and 28 May the “iCapital Workshop” will take place. Representatives of other European innovation cities – from Espoo, Vantaa, Dublin, Cluj-Napoca, Bilbao, Milan, Florence and Amiens – met their Dortmund counterparts at Dortmunder U and used the event to share experiences and talk about innovative approaches, for example in the field of sustainable and networked urban development.
Approach each other, learn from each other
The city of Dortmund was not only the host, it also presented itself as the “European Capital of Innovation 2021” – last year Dortmund had won the competition “iCapital Award 2021 – European Capital of Innovation”. After the welcoming address by Lord Mayor Thomas Westphal, Prof. Herbert Waldmann (Commissioner for the Dortmund Science master plan, MPI & TU Dortmund), Prof. Andrea Kienle (FH Dortmund), and Arturo de la Vega and Christina-Bella Pagés (City of Dortmund) provided insights into the Dortmund innovation network, which had brought the European title “iCapital” to Dortmund with the motto “Innovation next door – Future from the neighborhood”, the first German city ever to do so.
In addition, guests from Cluj-Napoca (Romania), Dublin (Ireland), Espoo (Finland), Leuven (Belgium) and Florence (Italy) gave presentations and explained their urban development, participation and mobility concepts. Afterwards, the “Innovation Tour” through Dortmund started directly in front of the Dortmunder U – here, many partners of the Dortmund Innovation Network presented themselves with activities, a startup pitch, a stage program and booths, e.g. the CET (Center for Entrepreneurship and Transfer, TU Dortmund), the children and youth technology center KITZ.do, the intercultural project “Gedankenzüge”, the Dortmund University of Applied Sciences or the German Rescue Robotics Center (DRZ).
From there, the tour continued by bus; the Dortmund Technology Center, Phoenix West and Phoenix Lake were on the agenda – impressive examples of the innovative power and transformation in Dortmund. A special conclusion to the first day of the event was a video installation at the Dortmunder U in the evening: The team from storyLab kiU (FH Dortmund University of Applied Sciences and Arts) projected impressive images onto the facade of the building, picking up on image quotations from art, philosophy, the history of Europe and news from the past 50 years.
Focus on exchange and European cooperation
Day two also had exciting items on the agenda: Representatives from Vantaa (Finland) reported on their innovation ecosystem and current projects. The IHK zu Dortmund and the CET provided insights into the Dortmund startup network. Prof. Jürgen Howaldt of the Social Research Center took an overarching look at innovation ecosystems. Afterwards, the participants exchanged ideas during the joint workshop on the topics of start-ups, social innovations, local as well as European cooperation. In the afternoon, the guests had the opportunity to get to know the Dortmunder U and the Museum Ostwall as well as the “Superraum” in the Brückviertel as networked places of art, culture and creativity.
The two-day workshop thus created a building block that contributes to the long-term development of European collaborations. “The iCapital workshop was a great opportunity to get in touch with international colleagues and to network for future projects, such as the EU mission on climate-neutral and smart cities.“, said workshop participant Felicia Schenkelberg from the Office for International Relations of the City of Dortmund.