SEiSMiC Ends with a Fresh Start
After three years the SEiSMiC project has come to an end with results and final reporting submitted to the donor, the European Commission. The SEiSMiC consortium and other partners brought things to a ceremonious closure during a two-day forum in Brussels, where the project's 10 national networks were encouraged to follow up by getting involverd in the JPI Urban Europe Stakeholder Involvement Platform (SIP).
The event took place at Factory Forty in Brussels, with the SEiSMiC community gathering a last time to summarise the work done and to size up its legacy.
SEiSMiC was a unique, largely unscripted process involving scores of activities where participants learned though practice. The project's activities included participatory sketching, crowd-sourced mapping, social enterprises and novel methods of utilising vacant urban buildings and spaces for community purposes. The aim was to involve stakeholders in reflecting on urgent topics and identifying policy and research priorities. Looking at the results, possibly one of the more important legacies of SEiSMiC is the way it has influenced the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) of JPI Urban Europe, presented in 2015.
SEiSMiC has been successful working across sector boundaries and different levels of governance within the European and urban frameworks for urban development. The network has helped to increase understanding among local stakeholders of the work in the European Commission and European institutions on urban matters and has established a good base for developing platforms for co-creation. The project strived for an environment where cities and citizens can learn from each other and has held workshops around Europe involving different stakeholders.
At the final event experiences and lessons learned by the national networks were shared and reflected upon in group discussions and panels. "The openness and creativity of the national networks I hope will remain as we now hand it over to JPI Urban Europe," said Koos van Dijken, one of the SEiSMiC consortium's co-leaders. He added that there is reason to continue with even more increased strength and that the SEiSMiC story can serve as a model for others,
One important contribution from SEiSMiC are the papers and books that have been produced to summarise the knowledge and lessons learned. The full work of SEiSMiC is presented in the book SEiSMiC: Enabling Social Innovation in European Cities, which was presented at the conference.
The project legacy is rich and manifold with a direct impact on JPI Urban Europe and the SRIA and indirectly influencing EU policy and research, noted Katarina Schylberg (Sweden), who managed the legacy work package of SEiSMiC. She added that the project established new communities and networks and had social innovators taking part in SEiSMiC forums. At the final event Schylberg presented a practice-based guide for establishing national stakeholder networks for urban challenges. This and all other SEiSMiC material will be available on the SEiSMiC web page until end of 2018.
The new platform
Some of the SEiSMiC activities now continue in the framework of the new Stakeholder Involvement Platform (SIP) within JPI Urban Europe. Most of the national networks are to be a part of the new platform. Jonas Bylund from the JPI Urban Europe Management Board gave a presentation on the platform, which will facilitate the implementation of the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda; help reach out to new countries and new urban actors; and continue the co-creative approach in SEiSMiC. The platform will foster continued experimentation with different kinds of tools, test ways to co-operate, mobilize different actors and give reflections on urban practices. A forum will be held each year involving stakeholders from national networks and and members from a core team of experts and distinguished urban practitioners. The platform that will act as sparring partner for the JPI Urban Europe management board.
Participants at the final SEiSMiC event were happy to see that the project will have a continuation and be further developed within JPI Urban Europe. The upcoming start of the platform is anticipated with the clear message on the conference: stay informed and connected!