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Metropolitan Area of Styria
Live Cases are a real-time journaling process for the Living Lab case studies. Follow along quarterly to learn more about the experiences and lessons learned taking place in the ROBUST Living Labs.
Fri 03 May
Live Case 2: Building a Broad Regional Stakeholder Network
As reported in our first Live Case, the exchange with regional stakeholders, like mayors, provincial administrations, and other experts taught us that the scope of responsibility for municipalities has changed a lot in the 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), smart mobility, and improving other quality of life aspects. Can these new responsibilities in the Metropolitan Area of Styria be better addressed by a shared economy approach and intercommunal cooperation?
To answer this question, we first need to identify shared economy approaches and intercommunal projects in our three ROBUST Communities of Practice: Public Infrastructure and Social Services, New Business Models and Labour Markets, and Cultural Connections.
The overall goal of the in-depth case study is therefore, to visualise the realization and relevance of good practice examples in the Metropolitan Area of Styria in a permanent online database on the Regional Management website. The data collection and presentation should provide information to answer questions like: “What are the innovative hot spots?” or “What ideas can be easily adopted in other municipalities and how?”
Photo: Regional Management Metropolitan Area of Styria
First steps of a promising in-depth case study
The basis of this data collection of good practice examples are criteria, which have been defined by the Living Lab team. Important aspects include inter-municipality, promoting social, ecological and economical sustainability, resource sharing, rural-urban linkages, etc. Altogether, we developed 11 criteria for good practices.
Intensive investigation and an online questionnaire, which will be sent out to all Metropolitan Area of Styria municipalities, will help us identify good practice examples in the region. Further, we are currently using stakeholder mapping to identify new stakeholders in the area of public infrastructure and social services, and new business models and labour markets, as well as cultural connections. The method helps us identify the distinctive roles people play, as well as the number of stakeholders engaged in particular positions. The aim of this mapping is to get an overview, identify new partners to work with, and develop visionary ideas for the region.
In our daily work, the exchange and cooperation with regional stakeholders is vital and we need to nurture these relations and extend our network when dealing with new issues and challenges. A broad network of interdisciplinary stakeholders enables us to expand regional knowledge and to approach experts about different research questions, new cooperation opportunities, and projects.
It should also serve as a basis for pairing professional experts with stakeholders and policy makers. At the moment, we are looking specifically for professional experts in the field of culture. Topic experts can help us better understand the needs and challenges in various activity areas.
Thus, the question that keeps us busy now is: how can we approach new stakeholders and engage them in our case study process to overcome "barriers" between rural, peri-urban and urban parts of the Living Lab to enable know-how transfer in all directions?
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
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.
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.
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 project type example 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.