Algeciras hosted the 4th Academy Seminar of the Digital Cities Challenge on the 29-30 January, as city representatives came together to discuss and review their roadmaps for implementation of their strategies.
The support of the Federation of Andalusian municipalities and provinces (FAMP) that took the lead to engage national, regional and local authorities was invaluable and gave a different dimension to this Academy. Andalucia took ownership of DCC and committed politically in a broad level.
Hosting the welcoming session and praising the initiative for enabling Algeciras to develop a clearly defined strategy for transformation, the Mayor of Algeciras, Jose Ignacio Landaluce, encouraged the cities to utilise the community created by the Challenge: “Each city has its own advantage and a tremendous potential to embrace the digital revolution”.
The political commitment was strong in the first Academy to take place in Spain, coming a few months after the Mayors Summit, as six Spanish mayors accepted Mayor Landaluce’s invite and were present to confirm the importance of digital policies for growth and the need for more EU projects that come close to the cities.
Dana Eleftheriadou, Head of Advanced Technologies Team at the European Commission, reiterated the bottom-up approach needed by cities to foster growth. "Knowledge is not created top-down. You need start-ups, smart environments and citizens to be innovative. The rich cultural environment in Europe is a fuel for that. Digital transformation is a bottom up process and requires strong communities,” said Dana.
With the participating cities at the stage of finalising their digital strategies to boost local economic growth and developing their roadmaps for implementation, the seminar provided the perfect opportunity to learn from the network through peer-review and exchange of best practices.
The seminar focused on two major industries of high importance for the participating cities: the agro-food industry and the textile industry. While these industries are starting to be digitalized, a large untapped potential still needs to be exploited to generate growth and strengthen the local anchoring of the companies in these sectors.
At the same time, and for different reasons both these sectors are strongly connected to the territory, and to the challenges of European cities to feed the growing population, to support local and sustainable production and consumption, to enhance the region’s brand, and to employ locally and grow internationally.
The seminar also included a special session on European funding available to cities to support the implementation of their digital transformation strategies, detailing the various programmes that exist, how to apply and the advantages of the different instruments.
After two days of insightful speeches, with 20 keynote speakers and a broad range of subjects, knowledge sharing and collaboration, attendees left Algeciras boosted and loaded with numerous ideas to enrich their digital transformation strategies. The first ideas for common investment projects are already on the table and the city teams will be very busy in the months to come.
All in all, the fourth Academy Seminar was a great success for the city of Algeciras and the other Andalucian governments, as they were able to come together and show a strong commitment to digital transformation. As well as pick up international exposure through the 29 Spanish websites and newspapers that covered the event.
For the DCC participants, the seminar proved that the network is stronger than ever with some cities already preparing proposals together for common investments. While for the European Commission, it sent a strong message of unity among European cities and provided the impetus to continue to support cities through initiatives like DCC.
See photos from the 4th Academy Seminar.