Promoting the proximity of rural and urban areas by strengthening incentives for smart mobility, public services and infrastructure

The Metropolitan Area of Styria includes the Styrian capital city of Graz and the two districts of Graz Umgebung (surrounding of Graz) and Voitsberg. The mountainous, wine growing region is home to 486.605 inhabitants and consists of 52 municipalities, including two LEADER regions, the LAG “Hügel- und Schöcklland” and the LAG “Lipizzanerheimat”.

Despite consistent growth in the last decades, the rural-urban gap in the region is widening. Graz is a vibrant city with more than 270,000 inhabitants, higher education institutions, creative jobs, and cultural amenities, and thus benefits highly from immigration. Conversely, the rural areas of the Metropolitan Area of Styria consisting of small towns and many small and remote municipalities, are often inaccessible and do not benefit from the same growth.

The Styria Living Lab, led by the Regional Management of the Metropolitan Area of Styria (RMZSR) and the Federal Institute for Less Favoured and Mountainous Areas (BABF), offers an excellent opportunity to improve regional rural-urban linkages. The RMZSR has many years of experience working in the region and has actively addressed rural-urban structures through a series of projects, while the BABF integrates social, environmental and economic dimensions in its long-standing and extensive experience in rural research.

The Styria Living Lab team will work with other regional stakeholders to improve public infrastructure in the region, with a concrete goal of launching a citizen-service-card that would help improve the livelihoods of the region’s citizens. The Living Lab will also explore how to use the region’s creative potential to establish new and innovative business models.

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ROBUST is a European research project involving 24 partners from 11 countries. ROBUST receives funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 727988.

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