By Andrew Somerville
What makes a city innovative? And can the Ørestad region in Copenhagen be transformed into an international innovation district?
These were some of the questions posed at the inaugural International Conference on Innovation Districts held at Ramboll in Copenhagen on Monday. Facilitated by Ørestad Innovation City Copenhagen (ØICC) and Ramboll, the conference brought together experts from companies and organisations as varied as Microsoft, Sustania, DTU and COBE architects.
Speaking at the conference, Bruce Katz, Centennial Scholar and Senior Fellow at The Brookings Institution, pointed out that for a city to be considered innovative, it usually shares economic, physical and networking assets, and this makes the Ørestad region of Copenhagen ideally placed.
“Without the networking and the economic, the city is just a nice place,” he said. “I think that apart from its obvious physical attributes – a great location close to a world-class airport and only ten minutes from downtown – the Ørestad region has not yet fully leveraged its potential. Innovative technologies such as renewable energy and the expertise Copenhagen has with sustainable solutions are a good start, but there is certainly more room for attracting innovative actors such as companies, organisations and institutions.”
Other speakers included Luise Noring, Assistant Professor at the Copenhagen Business School and Brookings Institution Senior Research Fellow. She identified the way European cities are funding urban innovation and making use of their public assets.
“Public resources are under pressure,” she said. “Therefore, cities are looking to how they can finance urban redevelopment without raising taxes.” Cities such as Copenhagen, Helsinki, Lyon and Hamburg are using combinations of public and private investment to free up their public assets and allow more urban innovation.
“Cities should focus on the public assets they have and consider the hidden value of those; sometimes cities do not realise the value of the land and buildings they have. Copenhagen is the gold standard of public asset management,” she said.But innovation is also about people and according to the CEO of Copenhagen City and Port Development Jens Kamer Mikkelsen, “having a common physical presence is also important. Innovation happens when we meet face to face and exchange ideas.”