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  • Writer's pictureGauthier de la VilleBaugé

A vision for Barcelona's future: Aretian's Ramon Gras delivered a keynote speech at IESE

Ramon Gras Alomà, Aretian Urban Analytics and Design cofounder and Harvard researcher, delivered the Keynote speech at the IESE Business School - University of Navarra event titled "A vision for Barcelona's future: City Science, Urban Design and Economic Development to transform Barcelona", held on March 24th, 2023.

Ramon presented the work led by Aretian on advancing City Science modeling, Urban Design, and Economic Development to tackle complex problems in the realm of environmental sustainability, social sustainability, governance, and urban and economic development. He explained that the currently stagnant status of urban development in Barcelona is due to the 1976 PGM plan, which then became obsolete. Not only is there major affordable housing scarcity and real estate prices skyrocketing, but also the local manufacturing scene has suffered from stagnation and is remarkably disconnected from a nascent startup and innovation scene. The innovation ecosystem currently lacks the necessary urban design and institutional relationship support needed to establish fruitful synergies between research, knowledge transfer, and innovative firms, ultimately causing underemployment for the new generations.

Ramon Gras Alomà then highlighted the importance of the effects of urbanization like the sublinear scaling, the economies of scale, and the superlinear benefits from agglomeration and innovation. He presented the new Science of Cities developed by Aretian and focusing on how City Form features composed of Urban Topology, Urban Morphology, Urban Entropy and Urban Fractality structurally impact the quality of life of citizens. Ramon introduced a few illustrative examples of representative urban areas and case studies in the world across different continents to pinpoint the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities illuminated by deploying City Science.

During his presentation, Ramon Gras presented an urban and economic development vision for the Barcelona Metro Region by means of the Aretian method. Ramon explained how the fractal metropolis vision, characterized by harmonic polycentrism, compactness, and nested space programming hierarchies, represents high-quality urban design able to satisfy the 15-minute city standards, and fosters a thriving knowledge economy. Ramon then referenced the 5 new innovation districts in the Barcelona Metropolitan area, showcasing the potential for the urban renewal and economic development vision to galvanize the knowledge economy and elevate the quality of life of citizens.

After Ramon Gras delivered the Keynote speech, and a panel of experts composed of Andreu Mas-Colell, Maria Galindo, Miquel Barceló, and Robert Gili, and Joan Enric Ricart as moderator, discussed how such a vision could become a reality by means of Public-Private Partnerships (PPP Projects).

The event was organized by the City of Barcelona and the IESE Business School - PPP for Cities center. Please subscribe to Aretian Urban Analytics and Design for more news about the future of Cities and Innovation Districts.

Maria Galindo, Robert Gili, Andreu Mas-Colell, Ramon Gras, Miquel Barceló, and Joan Enric Ricart

City Science helps us envision an urban design and smart specialization strategy aiming to draw, shape, and build a network of five strategically located innovation districts, hence connecting the most salient research fields with the latent economic potential of Barcelona.

Secretary General of IESE, Jaume Armengou, Andreu Mas-Colell, and Maria Galindo

The panel discussion was moderated by Prof. Joan Enric Ricart

Maria Galindo emphasized the need to combine an evidence-based urban development strategy with a hands-on PPP plan, as well as a governance structure to align the incentives of the different key stakeholders involved in urban and economic regeneration projects.

IESE Professor Joan Enric Ricart moderated the panel composed of distinguished guests, including Prof. Andreu Mas-Colell, Maria Galindo, Miquel Barceló, and Robert Gili.

Prof. Andreu Mas-Colell shared both his experience and the learnings acquired while shaping research-based innovation hubs and knowledge advancement ecosystems anchored in scientific advances and built upon entrepreneurial environments.

Miquel Barceló and Robert Gili presented key insights and learnings based on their leadership experience shaping and nurturing Innovation Districts and startup ecosystems in multiple cities and countries.

Bàrbara Pons Giner and Joan Enric Ricart introducing the event: 'A Vision for Barcelona's Future: City Science, Urban Design, and Economic Development"



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