In the history of Europe, towns always represented a reference point for territories and regions. The town centre was the location where the upper social classes lived and organised their commerce. But, during last years, new models of life changed the physiognomy of the towns. Many citizens moved from centres to suburbs for a better offer in terms of liveableness, less traffic and pollution, more green and supply chain closer and easily accessible.

As consequence, town centres are losing their symbolic and pivotal role played during the centuries.

For these reasons, a group of five municipalities all over Europe decided to lay together their efforts to plan and implement an innovative approach to the urban management, through the request of a financial support to the European Union. The project JEWEL Model has been co-financed by EU Commission, in the framework of the South East Europe Programme.

The main aim of JEWEL-Model is to contribute to the fight against the social desertification affecting the town centres, by the creation of a place where the local community can exchange all relevant information about urban and territorial changes, thus having a direct role in the decision making process. This place is the Urban Centre.

The Urban Centre is an open and public space for documenting and developing innovative ideas for the future of town.

It is also a place where public institutions, residents, associations, communities, economic and social stakeholders come together with the aim of exchanging ideas and comparing projects. The Urban Centre is, finally, an open community of experts for the realisation of integrated urban plans at support of the local governance.

A specific focus of JEWEL Model is represented by the support to start-up and development of new enterprises in the field of the Cultural and Creative Industry, as new media, new technologies and ICT, fit to be located in town centres. The support will be provided through creative incubators for new firms offering training, assistance and guidance. The access to training and guidance paths, leading to entrepreneurial activities, will be facilitated for young people with difficulties to accede to credit system.

Background

In the history of Europe, towns traditionally are reference points for territories and regions. The town centre was the location where the upper social classes lived and organize their commerce. But during last years, new models of life are changing (or have already changed) the physiognomy of towns. Many citizens moved to suburbs for a better offer in terms of liveableness, less traffic and pollution, more green and supply chain close and easily accessible. Vanishing of traditional neighborhood stores, increasing of traffic, lacking of parking, increasing of tourism and tourism shops, presence of new inhabitants (and new kind of shops and freights) far from the history and tradition, structural decadence of some areas, led to the crisis of historical town centre and to the loss of identity of its renewed community.

Aims

JEWEL project deals with an innovative approach to address the town centers desertification phenomena. The approach is based on the creation of Urban Centers, meaning a space for documenting and developing innovative ideas for the future of town. The Urban Center is also an open community of experts for the realization of integrated urban plans at support of good policy and program design within the competence of Municipalities and other authorities in charge of the local development.

A specific focus of the project is the support to start-up and development of new enterprises in the field of creative industry, as new media, new technologies and ICT, fit to be located in town centres. The admission to training and guidance paths leading to entrepreneurial activities will be facilitated for young people with difficulties to accede to credit system, such as women, foreigners, disadvantaged, thanks also to the coordination with further programs and initiatives in force in involved territories.

Work packages and activities

WP1 - TRANSNATIONAL PROJECT AND FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT

The aims of this action are the establishment of the project bodies in charge of the project implementation and the implementation of the management and financial procedures.

Decision making process is carried out by the Steering Committee (SC), which is composed by representatives of each partner and leaded by the Project Coordinator, responsible for project overall organization. SC agrees executive planning, internal deadlines, quality standards, and corrective actions if necessary and it will meet 5 times during the project (1st; 6th; 12th; 18th and 23rd month of project).

The SC adopts the Executive Project Manual (EPM), stressing internal procedures for decision making and project management quality criteria, and an Agreement of Future cooperation, a shared document which commits partners to prosecute the cooperation activated within JEWEL project, identifying follow up strategies and actions for the project.

The Lead Partner is in charge of transferring to MA decisions and requests brought up in SC meetings and to develop the reports on operation’s progress and consistency between the objectives envisaged and the objectives achieved. In parallel, technical meetings and on-site visits are carried on to stress the contents part of project. A Secretary Office permanently support partners in the implementation of the project procedures.

The Financial Management is coordinated by the Project Administrative and Financial Officer c/o Lead Partner. The officer is in charge for the accounts, financial reporting, and internal handling of the SEE funds and national cofinancing, and it is supported by a financial responsible for each partner.

The project management perform a set of internal controls to monitor the sound and duly implementation of the project’s activities. The main management tool is the guidelines on monitoring and evaluation, draft by Lead applicant and agreed by partnership. A quality control is performed on the basis of a tailor-made Logical Framework, expressing performance indicators and procedures, to avoid loss of quality results during the entire running of the Project. The results of the quality control and monitoring of project will be presented at SC, along with proposals to address main affecting issues.

Outputs:

  • 1 Executive Project Manual (EPM)
  • 4 Narrative and Financial Reports
  • 1 Agreement of Future Cooperation

Results:

  • Project Management Effectiveness (correctness in developing the activities as approved; correctness of cash flows and the respecting of financial regulation framework of SEE Program; adequacy of the monitoring and evaluation activity)

WP2 - COMMUNICATION ACTIVITIES

The project approachs communication and dissemination through:

  • an overall communication strategy, approved by the SC, aimed at ensure to project an efficient basic level of dissemination and including the standard communication and dissemination channels (project website, press conferences, events, information material);
  • awareness raising campaign, laying mainly on the organization of local events aimed to attract the interest of a large audience of actors and stakeholders in the project issues and activities;
  • mainstreaming campaign, aims to transfer the know-how produced by the project to other European key actors and local/regional institutions mainly through the realization of local mainstreaming small event and one international large scale event.

Outputs:

  • 6 Large Scale Events
  • 1 Communication and Dissemination Plan
  • 1 Informative Material Kit
  • 6 Small Scale Events

Results:

  • Knowledge of Project both to civil society, and to a selected and experienced audience, in order to disseminate the contents and technical expertise of project.

WP3 – NEEDS ANALYSIS AND BENCHMARKING

This WP aims to accurately define the specific needs emerging by target areas in order to design and implement effective urban development plans, which take in account both desiderata and the effective constraints of each specific contexts, mainly through:

  • a bottom up approach (local specific needs analysis). This means direct contact with local citizens and economic operators, also through their representative associations. Several b to be meetings and focus groups will be organized in each partner town;
  • desk research and specific surveys on the literature, projects, initiatives and actions already carried out in the filed covered by project. Moreover, short study visits will be processed at national level for meet directly other significant experiences.

A final report on the activity will support the definition of the Urban Plans.

Outputs:

  • 1 Comprehensive Report on Need Analysis

Results:

  • Attraction of stakeholders and key actors, to facilitate the concrete definition of problems in each target area and the executive an tailored planning of activities.

WP4 - DESIGNING OF URBAN DEVELOPMENT PLANS

Processing Urban Plans represent the core activity of the project. They will be realized under the scientific coordination operated by the transnational pool of expert and by the support of University of Gjirokaster. Each national/local group of experts will draft a plan, tailor made on the specific needs and features of each territory, on the basis of the results of WP 3. The project’s experts will ensure a basic common framework for each plan.

In the framework of Project, Urban Plan means an integrate plan for a future development of the town centers and improve their relations with the surrounding territories. The plans provided in the project don’t substitute or overlap the plans operated by public subject in charge of the management of territories, but they offer a different approach and a core of activities can run in parallel with the other initiatives carried on and the legal framework in force.

Outputs:

  • 6 Urban Plans

Results:

  • Improving the local governance (a better and most balanced approach to problems affecting town centers, involving a critical mass of stakeholders and key actors in number of 180 for the whole project).

WP5 - IMPLEMENTATION OF URBAN DEVELOPMENT PLANS

The aim of this WP is to provide a steady business incubators urban system to facilitate the birth of new enterprises in town centers, in the field of Creative industry, including new media, new technologies, ICT and all innovative enterprises fit to be placed in a town center.

The activity is structured in two group of actions:

  • an executive planning of the activities to be carried on, on the basis of expertise of development agencies and professionals, connected with results generated by WP3. The basic framework of executive plan is agreed at SC level and will be implemented by all partners which provide their own expertise. Furthermore partners in charge to manage directly the incubators will active all legal procedures and functional activities for proceeding to the acquisition of the necessary equipment for them, such as furniture, PCs, printers, consumables, etc.
  • activities supporting new SMEs: after a selection procedures, a group of young potential entrepreneurs will be selected to attend training/informative path leading to the start-up of their enterprises. During the first year of activity the new enterprises will be supported by local development agencies or professionals, which provide the guidance and assistance .All Municipalities, through Urban Centers, will coordinate locally this activity.

A specific scientific monitoring on implementation of plans has been set-up. The operative tools of the monitoring will be: interviews with public and private subjects engaged in town management and local stakeholders, opinion pool addressing local citizens and economic operators, provision of questionnaires to local key actors. Each local authority will be responsible for the implementation of its own plan.

Outputs:

  • 6 Urban Incubators for SMEs
  • 3 Reports on Implementations of Plans

Results:

  • At least 30 new SMEs can get the support of incubators. On the basis of previous experiences it is reasonable assume that 30% will produce results also in the long term.
  • Increasing of professional skills: at least 25/30 young people for each area, mainly with difficulties to accede to credit system (women, migrants disadvantaged), can accede free to a training path and increase their own professional skills.

WP6 - CAPACITY BUILDING

This wp aims at provide the right skills to new entrepreneurs for start-up and successfully implement their entrepreneurial activities, mainly through:

  • definition of a transnational strategy and main features of capacity building. The expert of urban centers will define a list of training contents (such as motivational, marketing skills, potentiality of creative industry, ecc..) in order to create a basic line-up of the training material to be adapted by each partner.
  • implementation of capacity building sessions by each local team of experts, which will develop their own training framework tailor made on the specific economic, social an entrepreneurial framework of territory. Two training sessions will be developed during the project, addressing two different groups, for a total of, at least, 180 young people trained for all six territories involved in the project.

The best ideas, evaluated by the team of experts, will be launched to urban incubators for supporting the start-up of those enterprises. Each incubator can support 5 new enterprises.

Outputs:

  • 1 Informative/training material kit
  • 12 Informative/training sessions

Results:

  • Improvement of skills for young entrepreneurs (At least 180 young entrepreneurs trained and informed on matters such as start-up of enterprise, marketing, creative industry in six project territories).

WP7 - PERMANENT NETWORK OF URBAN CENTERS

This action aims to setting up the Jewel Urban Center Network.

Urban Center is an open space and a long-term urban managing tool to plan and implement urban and territorial transformations. Usually it is a local government service for the actors (or the potential ones) involved in urban policies decision-making aimed at improving the level of information, knowledge, transparency, participation and effectiveness. It can built support for land use and investment strategies to support center-oriented development and urban economic vitality.

Within JEWEL project each Urban Center will be chaired by an experts team and will carry on its activities with the collaboration of other transnational centres, exchanging information and data. Envisaged experts belong to different sectors: land and urban planning, legal and economic, marketing, start-up of enterprises, new technologies and ICT. Further expertise can be added or modified within project implementation. Urban Centers will organize information and dissemination events at local level.

A specific space will be identified in each municipality partner, with the purpose to host the center, together with a coordinator and internal and external experts. In parallel with the SC, experts meetings will be carried on for a profitable exchange of expertise and know-how. Final dissemination guidelines, will be edit to resume the experience of project as whole and address mainly policy makers, urban planners and economic operators.

A specific activity of Urban Center Network will be the continuous monitoring of policies, programs, initiative and projects regarding the future of town centers and the circulation of such information. This action, starting from a deep analysis of the structural policies impact in the programming period 2007-2013 in SEE territories, aims at impacting on the new cohesion policy through a bottom-up process.

At the end of project, each partner will present and spread among its national policy makers network a proposal about a proposal on a desirable legal framework in matter of urban planning and management. Another proposal will be forwarded by the entire partnership to EU policy makers, regarding issues to be treated at European level. The recommendations will be discussed, finalized and shared in the framework of the Final Open Space Conference, performed within WP2.

Outputs:

  • Setting up of 5 Urban Centers
  • 7 Recommendations to policy makers
  • 1 Final Guidelines

Results:

  • Availability of a free common space to plan the future of towns.
  • Transnational Network of Urban Centers (All Urban Centers created within the project will bring together in an unique transnational network, linked also to further international networks of urban centers or towns dealing with same or similar matters).

Group of municipalities belonging to SEE area decided to lay together their efforts for plan and implement an innovative approach to the urban management.

They represent a wide area of SEE outreach: the northern side of SEE area is represented by the municipalities of Sliven (BG) and Medias (RO), the western by the Municipality of Perugia, the eastern by Sibenik (HR) and Patras (GR). 4 Municipalities belong to EU area, 1 Municipality belong to IPA area.

The municipalities are homogeneous in terms of width and number of inhabitants and all of them are facing similar problems linked with the social desertification of town centres and all linked phenomena.

The whole project and municipalities will be powered also thanks to the expertise of two technical partners in local development, Sviluppumbria SpA (IT) and NEA (GR),and the University of Gjirokaster, already specifically experienced in urban management and fight against town centre depopulation.

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