As a result of the development of the concept of urban labs adapted to Polish conditions, which took place at the Institute of Urban and Regional Development, works to adapt it to the needs and challenges of the city began in Gdynia . These works were concluded with the signing of a subsidy agreement on March 7, 2019 by Mr. Michał Guć, Gdynia’s vice-president for innovation. Consequently, the implementation of the task “Adaptation of the UrbanLab concept in Gdynia” started.
UrbanLab Gdynia is a three-year implementation experiment carried out with the funds and with the involvement of the Ministry of Development Funds and Regional Policy and with the support of the Institute of Urban and Regional Development. It includes testing the concept of urban lab adapted to Polish conditions and supporting its pilot implementation in two Polish cities – Gdynia and Rzeszów.
It is identifying needs and problems, and then looking for innovative ways to solve them in an open formula of dialogue and cooperation with residents.
UrbanLab is an innovative form of cooperation, combining the ideas of residents with the knowledge and experience of experts. The basic assumption of UrbanLab Gdynia is the exchange of knowledge and experiences of various groups, and above all, a joint search for answers to the challenges that cities are facing. This method involves a number of activities enabling and strengthening the cooperation of residents, non-governmental organizations, scientists, officials and business. The results of this cooperation are new solutions and processes thanks to which the city will develop in a sustainable manner.
UrbanLab Gdynia also encompasses activities that the local community can already benefit from. This includes lectures and discussions in UrbanCafé, available as videos and podcasts. The UrbanLab Gdynia team in cooperation with the Independent Department for Quality of Life and Management Systems Integration also supplies the Gdynia open data base, which is a source of knowledge and information about the city. The preparation of the DECIDIM platform, an online tool supporting the processes of social consultations and participation, is also in progress. Thanks to it, residents will have the opportunity to learn about the ongoing public consultations and take part in city-forming processes – all online.
The challenge to be addressed by UrbanLab Gdynia in a given year is determined by the Strategy Group – the key representatives of local administration and city authorities and an interdisciplinary group of experts. These are globally important issues and solutions to them should be found on the local level. At the invitation of the Mayor of Gdynia Wojciech Szczurek, the group includes: Wojciech Kłosowski, an advisor to the local government of cities and municipalities; dr hab. Kacper Pobłocki, anthropologist and social activist; Filip Springer, publicist and author of books related to urban issues; Prof. Michał Stangel, architect and urban planner; dr hab. Mariusz Sokołowicz, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Sociology at the University of Łódź; and Aleksandra Zemke, founder of the Barcelona-based Smilemundo organization, as well as the member of the City of Gdynia Mayor’s Council.
The challenge of the year is undertaken as part of the work of Thematic Teams, the Social Innovation Incubator – the Urban Competence Program and the Idea for the City, events, discussions and training at UrbanCafé and other UrbanLab activities.