As cities try to spur the innovativeness of their areas, those within city organizations must look not only to themselves but to each other as well as those around them. Can we improve our own operations? Who should we collaborate with? How should the collaboration be structured to ensure that the ‘right’ issues are addressed? How can we, efficiently, identify everyone’s interests and handle them constructively? Co-creation partnerships can therefore be considered as forms of social innovation, which can help to fuel those goals we consider important; such as low-carbon transportation solutions.

The two-year, TEKES-funded Systemic Architectures for Sustainable Urban Innovation (SASUI) program aims to contribute to this goal through the efforts of researchers from Aalto University’s Department of Real Estate, Planning, and Geoinformatics and University of Tampere’s Politics of nature and the environment research group (PONTE), in co-operation with the cities of Espoo and Tampere, and together with the selected sub-contractor Synocus. The program is led by Professor Raine Mäntysalo who has a strong interest in the development of the 4P model (Public – Private – People –Partnership), a model which requires understanding the interests of various parties as well as the tensions between these parties. This theme will be assessed through the development of a number of urban areas, including Otaniemi and Keilaniemi in Espoo and, in Tampere, research will focus on the urban densification project underway in the Tammela region and the development of collaboration between the various parties involved.

Synocus responsibilities in the research program include: conducting international benchmarking studies comparing and contrasting the efforts of city regions in Sweden and China that are also faced with the same challenges. This benchmarking will highlight interesting examples and precedents of the regional and local support structures developed for driving sustainability and low-carbon innovation in urban planning which can benefit Finnish cities. Points of comparison in Finland include the ‘Innovation Garden’; an area consisting of Otaniemi, Tapiola, and Keilaniemi, providing support for the area’s development, guiding the form of co-operation, and the evolution of the area’s branding. Similarly, the SASUI program will support Tampere’s activities as the head of the Smart Cities section of the national Innovative Cities (INKA) program. The INKA program’s goal is to foster novel forms of co-operation between private sector companies and public sector organizations in developing new, commercially viable innovations and expertise for the global market.

The SASUI program is connected to the international World Alliance for Low Carbon Cities (WALCC). The WALCC is a non-profit organization aimed at supporting the development of low-carbon cities. The alliance supports its members’ efforts to adopt low-carbon technologies by providing them with information on the industry’s latest developments and by arranging networking events. The SASUI program provides the WALCC with a source of information regarding the latest developments to support the research and development goals of its members, further collaborative initiatives spurred by the program, as well as providing updates of the program’s progress.

The SASUI program will be represented at the 7th annual Low Carbon Development World Forum organized by the WALCC. The forum will be held at the Tampere Hall in Tampere, Finland, from October 7-9.

Systemic Architectures for Sustainable Urban Innovation program details

Duration: 2014-2015

Budget: €620,000 (including funding from outside sources as well as the funding provided by participating universities; TEKES funding accounts for €372,000)

Websites: http://walcc.org/index.php/programs/sasui

 http://maa.aalto.fi/fi/research/ytk/research/resaerch_projects/sasui/

http://www.uta.fi/jkk/en/research/themes/ponte/projects/sasui.html

Participating parties: Aalto University, University of Tampere, City of Espoo, City of Tampere, Synocus

Program manager: Prof. Raine Mäntysalo

Program contact persons: Kaisa Schmidt-Thomé (Aalto University), Helena Leino (University of Tampere), and Johan Wallin (Synocus)

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Programs

Reframing City Districts (ReCiDi)

A research project conducted by the Universities of Turku and Tampere which aims to form a new conceptual framework which will help shape the collective identity and common vision necessary to realize the future low-carbon and sustainability targets.

Systemic Architectures for Sustainable Urban Innovation (SASUI)

An action learning and research project conducted by Aalto University and the University of Tampere which aimed to form a better understanding of the architectural requirements for successful innovation projects.

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