Wed 30 Jan

Live Case 1: Is the sharing economy the answer to regional challenges in Austria?

How can implementing cooperative approaches enhance rural-urban synergies? And how can the concept of the sharing economy, intercommunal cooperation and balancing approaches support such strategies in the Metropolitan Area of Styria? These are the central questions in the Austrian Living Lab, and to address them, we organised a workshop with political and administrative representatives from the region. The discussion aimed to explore key strengths and weaknesses of the region and define future challenges for the next five to ten years in the fields of (smart) mobility, (social) infrastructure, economy, and labour markets, as well as living conditions, sustainable natural environment and amenities.

Photo: Regional Management Metropolitan Area of Styria

Challenges

The intensive exchange with stakeholders taught us that the scope of responsibility for municipalities has changed a lot over recent years. Previously, topics like building construction and settlement regulation were key tasks of municipalities. Nowadays, they are also jointly responsible for complex issues, such as high-quality digital access (fiberglass expansion). Furthermore, the participants of the workshop stressed the huge impact of the city of Graz on the whole region. On the one hand, the city greatly benefits from immigration because of the higher education institutions, creative jobs and cultural amenities. The rural parts of the region, on the other hand, are often not as easily accessible by public transport as the city and do not benefit in a similar way.

Opportunities

Thus, the sharing economy, intercommunal cooperation and balancing approaches are becoming increasingly important concepts to help cope with regional challenges and improve rural-urban synergies. Starting with the introduction in 2018 of the “Law on Planning and Development of the Province of Styria and its Regions”, which explicitly fosters inter-communal projects, we are already heading in the right direction. Cooperation and civic engagement offer further opportunities to meet challenges and maintain the quality of life in rural areas.

Vision

In the coming two years, we aim to implement an online database to visualise the realization and relevance of innovative intercommunal and shared economy projects that will be designed and implemented within the Living Lab. The database will be part of the Regional Management of the Metropolitan Area of Styria’s website. One example of the type of projects published in the database can be found in the east of Graz, in Laßnitzhöhe. “Allerleierei“ is a collaborative project by a hotelier, a vegetable grower and a restaurateur, who created a community meeting place to have lunch or a coffee break, and incidentally shop for local produce and regional products. The three local business partners live their passion and, at the same time, save and share resources by using the retail premises jointly. We expect that demonstrating positive examples like these can be a catalyst for change in our region.

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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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