CuencaJobs and skills in the local economy
UFIL - Urban Forest Innovation Lab
“We have always talked about the direct and indirect benefits of the forest masses of the municipality of Cuenca. I think we need to give an extra boost. Forest bioeconomy can be a key player in changing the economy of the city of Cuenca. And it is what I hope and wish with this initiative, that there be a before and after in terms of the economic values that the city of Cuenca can foster.”
Cuenca is the EU city with the vastest forest area (53.000,00 has.) with unique species of autochthonous fauna and flora. However, Cuenca’s forest is underexploited, weakening the economic and businesses creation capacity associated to it. There is a lack of educational programs focusing on forest or bioeconomy in Cuenca, as they are mostly located in other cities of the region with smaller forest extensions. This hampers the ability of the city to retain and attract talented people, worsening the already existing issue of ageing and declining population.
The challenge for the city of Cuenca is to take advantage of the important economic, social and environmental benefits of sustainable forest exploitation, through the development of an innovative forest business industry. This will allow for a broadening of the local economy beyond public services, heritage and culture tourism, and will ensure a better forest management, fire prevention system and the creation of GHG sink.
URBAN FOREST INNOVATION LAB (UFIL) aims at fostering local economic development, through the promotion of innovative means of forest exploitation that include a rural-urban perspective. Those means are:
• An innovative training model aiming at design-based business creation in the field of forest bioeconomy. This training is divided into 3 main pillars: 21st century skills, forest bioeconomy and business and environmental innovation in forestry. The training is complemented with practical work on challenges presented by sponsors. Multidisciplinary groups of participants from different backgrounds (industrial, agroforest, business administration and IT) will work throughout the training, in order to identify possible solution to the sponsors’ challenges.
• Incubation and acceleration: During the trainings, participants will incubate and accelerate their business projects with the necessary equipment for testing and prototyping. Cuenca’s forest will be the test ground for solutions incubated, regularly monitored by experienced professionals.
• Knowledge development: UFIL will conduct a deep research on forest opportunities in Cuenca and main areas for business development and innovation.
• Consolidation of forest bioeconomy: An action plan for Cuenca’s forestry sector will be developed in collaboration with different levels of administration (National, Regional, Province).
- City of Cuenca
- Universidad Castilla La Mancha
- Universidad Politécnica de Madrid
- Junta de Castilla La Mancha - regional government
- CEOE - Business Confederation
- IED - Design Institute
- ACMSA - Wood Council
- International Forest Stewardship Council FSC -Wood Council
- Khora Urban Thinkers
This project seeks to achieve the following results for the development of forest bioeconomy local industry.
• Increase forestry companies created in Cuenca. The program aims at creating new companies in forest bioeconomy.
• Improvement of forest bioeconomy training and capacity building for entrepreneurship. UFIL will provide technical training focused on forest bioeconomy, coaching, and training in 21st century skills.
• Attraction and retention of talent and highly qualified workforce for forest bioeconomy development.
• Knowledge improvement on forest bioeconomy and its possibilities for innovative entrepreneurship changing public's perception on the forest.
• Stimulate urban integration with natural and rural environment.
• Enhance collaboration between administrations for forest sustainable economic exploitation.
August 2019: Study on Cuenca’s bioeconomy opportunities completed, defining main areas of opportunity that will determine training, incubation and acceleration.
December 2019: Signing collaboration agreements with sponsors whose business challenges will be solved by UFIL trainees.
January 2020: First recruitment campaign. This campaign will target users with diverse background and experience and will take place in Cuenca, universities and businesses.
April 2020: Start of first UFIL class of 35 people that will combine one week of training and three weeks of incubation and acceleration for 10 months.
September 2021: Presentation of last trainees’ Endeavour Business Projects to sponsors, trainers, coaches, tutors, other trainees and experts.