Urban Europe Research Alliance
Urban Europe Research Alliance: new research network for thriving communities and their environment
“A large amount of cities in the world try to be sustainable, through e.g., adapting to climate change, setting up a circular city economy, developing eco areas. ‘Green cities’ is an important means to realising these goals”, says dr. ir. Wim de Haas, Program manager Green Cities at Wageningen University & Research.
In order to address major challenges and make use of the opportunities of cities, the Urban Europe Research Alliance (UERA) was set up to bring urban research and innovation activities to the point, where the acquired knowledge and results can be used by industries, cities and public authorities. The UERA is an activity of the Urban Europe Joint Programming Initiative.
“These ‘green cities’ are found to improve the physical environment of people, make cities more resilient, improve human health, and improve social cohesion, but also improve the city’s image. And at a higher perspective green areas can play a part in structuring the city’s development. The advantages of green areas in the city can be named easily, but to come to an effective application of green solutions, a large amount of knowledge, both scientific as well as applied, is needed: what links can be found, what are best practices, and what doesn’t work”.
Relevance for Wageningen University and Research
“Wageningen UR has a vast knowledge, both on technical aspects of sustainability, as well as on social and governance aspects. This make taking part in the UERA right from the start important for Wageningen UR. A lot can be gained from the cross-overs between the domains. And innovations always originate at the boundaries of domains. UERA can become such a network, where innovations are made”, according to De Haas. Another aspect of the UERA is that the autonomous body will be influential to the strategic research & innovation agenda, as well as future calls for proposals, which brings opportunities for setting the course.
Currently, 25 research organisations from 11 countries are participating in UERA. The organisation of national recruitment workshops is encouraged to develop the engagement of members. UERA members are research operators, i.e. the supply side of research, and they apply to the alliance on a voluntary basis. This European alliance is built in a first step by research and technology organisations (RTOs) and universities of the JPI Urban Europe members’ countries. An extension to other European countries will be explored in the second phase.
Researchers in the spotlight with projects funded through jointly programmed calls
One of the aims of joint programming is aligning research & research funding and this usually results in a joint call to which proposals can be submitted. In a series of interviews, researchers from Wageningen University and Research present their granted projects from such joint calls.