What could be the role of culture and contemporary cultural infrastructure in expanding the capacity of the city to increase the well-being of citizens?
How can a municipality open up its processes for decision making, increase transparency and connect better with its citizens?
Kosice has been facing low level of civic engagement and a lack of trust to public institutions. At the same time its economy has been experiencing rapid transformation with 60% of its jobs being at risk of automation and its larger employer, the US Steel planning to lay off a quarter of its workers. While many people are seeking opportunities in the country’s capital Bratislava, in the neighbourhood countries and in the UK or in the US, a young and ambitious group of City leaders, entrepreneurs, creative makers and thinkers is leading change to the city with a vision to become a European role model for urban innovation.
Their initiative "Kosice 2.0" focuses on the development of an interface positioned between the city government and the society that capitalises on the creative start-up community of the city and its strong ICT sector to improve the well-being of citizens, optimise public service provision and help the municipality to change its decision making mindsets introducing a strong data culture and delivering evidence based policies.
This interface makes use of the city’s large scale investments in cultural infrastructure and contemporary cultural heritage developed while being the European Capital of Culture (2013) and consists of a range of well-thought and meticulously designed components that trigger the participation of the society (citizens, entrepreneurs, creative start-ups, policy-makers, city officials) to the development of innovations for a number of challenges the city is facing.
Those activities are developed in a center dedicated to urban innovation, the Urban Innovation Sphere (UIS). It mentors and supports startups, provides micro-grants to creative entrepreneurs, awards and tests prototypes submitted by citizens and provides a platform for networking opportunities for the young generation of start-uppers.
Today Kosice 2.0 has managed to officially launch its Urban Innovation Sphere (UIS) providing a common space for city practitioners to share, test and co-create innovations and ignite evidence based policies that improve the well being in the city.
The UIS addresses both the challenge of economic transformation and the lack of trust to public institutions by bringing together a diverse group of creative professionals, entrepreneurs and startups and connecting them with the traditional industries and the municipality through its different sub-programs to pilot common solutions that contribute to the city uplift. The Urban Innovation Sphere consists of different elements that together constitute the innovation frontrunner of Kosice 2.0 and have already started delivering results for the city.