Local innovation plan: ict and increasing citizen participation in public processes
Sant Cugat del Vallès is a municipality in the Barcelona Area with a population of 76.274 inhabitants (2008); its predominantly young population has high levels of expertise and training and the city offers a highly dynamic environment from an economic and educational point of view. Sant Cugat hosts a very important business park (which is home to 3.500 businesses and provides over 30,000 jobs) and some leader Research and Training institutions (such as ESADE Creapolis) and is placed in the B-30 axis, one of the more dynamic business areas of the European Union and the Mediterranean Basin. It was one of the 5 candidates to host the European Institute of Technology (EIT) in 2008. The city of Sant Cugat is strongly committed to sustainable development and the knowledge economy, and local authorities are interested in how Innovation can contribute to progress in these two strategic fields. Sant Cugat strongly believes that innovation is the best opportunity to overcome this global crisis so we focus our resources on two strategic priorities: the consolidation of Sant Cugat as an eco-city, compromised with a sustainable growth, and well prepared for the knowledge society.
Local authorities in Sant Cugat del Vallès promoted the elaboration of a Local Innovation Plan 2009-2012 (LIP), which reflects the strong commitment of the local government and administration with innovation. The aim of the LIP is to introduce Innovation as a basic and transversal element which may contribute to sustainable development and economic competitiveness. Due to the importance of this plan and the highly dynamic economic, academic and social environment of Sant Cugat, the city council decided that the LIP should be designed through a participative process where talent, creativity and training should contribute to achieve a better future for the citizens and the environment of Sant Cugat. Participation 2.0 was essential to inform and assure an opened debate through the blog www.fit.santcugat.cat and our YouTube Channel http://www.youtube.com/user/santcugat. In order to motivate the participation of the key actors of the professional, business and academic sectors -but also from local politicians and public managers- a Technologic Innovation Forum was created. This forum has been structured in different workshops, whose attendants discussed on the following topics: infrastructures; ICT and its contribution to economic development; R+D+I; and modernisation of local Public Administration.
This participation process lead to a very complete Local Innovation Plan adopted in June 2009 by all the political groups in the City Council. Attached to the LIP, a concrete action plan, with present and future projects, is already being displayed in sectors like Information Society but it stays open to new opportunities that the ICT sector may bring in order to contribute to the attraction and retention of talent; networking, universal accessibility, training, sustainability, and the access to basic public services. The strength of this Local Innovation Plan lies in the great consensus achieved with all the social, academic, business and political actors in the city. Furthermore, the LIP has recently incorporated an international dimension with two main objectives: to share this experience with other relevant cities and to establish strategic partnerships with some key institutions and stakeholders in the innovation landscape worldwide.