El País just published an article highlighting the work accomplished by Aretian Urban Analytics and Design in the cities of Bilbao, Madrid and Barcelona. The article authored by Dani Cordero, a Barcelona-based journalist and economics editor, discusses the current status of urban innovation in Bilbao, Madrid, and Barcelona, in the context of the global scene. In this article, Ramon Gras Alomà, Aretian cofounder and Harvard researcher, evaluates the core challenges that the largest Spanish cities face when fighting the knowledge economy leadership battle, and emphasizes that Bilbao, Madrid and Barcelona currently do not follow a clear path towards global excellence. Those cities present an immense potential of becoming true global leaders, and currently lead the respective local innovation scenes, but up to this point have failed to conceive a fully functioning knowledge economy ecosystem capable of attracting world class talent and consolidating first-rate technology clusters with which they can compete worldwide. He also discusses the industry-specific leadership roles of London, New York, Stuttgart, or Munich. He also points out that what characterizes the most dynamic US cities, and concurrently what becomes successful, is the ability to create ecosystems in which not only industry and universities coexist, but also where a two-way exchange of knowledge and technology to feed the virtuous cycle is created.
In Spain, the industry or academic poles tend to be more isolated and compartmentalized, preventing the emergence of ecosystems of innovation based on the transfers of knowledge and expertise. Each system tends to operate physically and managerially separated from the others by geographic and urban limits, which prevents the city from benefiting from the aggregation effects revealed by Aretian’s research. Ramon explains that the optimal strategy to drive innovation in Madrid would be to foster 4 or 5 urban areas or innovation districts in which universities and industries coexist through institutional links such as startup incubators, and innovation transfers. Ramon also estimates that Barcelona is facing similar challenges, with some key differences however. Barcelona presents a remarkable degree of industry diversification, but lacks a few key sectors of industry excellence and leadership. Ramon points out the importance of creating knowledge intensive jobs across the Barcelona Area in order to lead the country to be more competitive, and evidence-based smart specialization is a necessary asset in order to excel at this endeavor.
Read the full article HERE.
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