Final Conference of the Strategic Research Initiative: Social Innovation in Practice (city regeneration through co-evolution and networking)

 (Preliminary programme)

     New sciences and actions for complex cities

     Social and institutional innovation in self-organising systems

University of Florence, Italy  • 14-15 December 2017


The Strategic Research Initiative Social Innovation in Practice: city regeneration through co-evolution and networking (SIPCITY) coordinated by Camilla Perrone (University of Florence) is entering its final year of activities. SIPCITY Researchers are engaged in follow-up projects that will continue the work on social innovation through specific collaborative endeavours.

The conference is therefore designed on the purpose to open the debate to a wider community of scholars to engender more collaborations in the future.

We are currently seeking proposals for individual papers for our final conference in Florence, December 14-15, 2017.

An internal call for SIPCITY researchers and board members is already underway but we are accepting a limited number of papers from researchers who are not associated with the project.

Keynote speakers are: Dirk Helbing (ETH Zürich) and Marc Barthelemy (CEA, Institut de physique théorique Paris); Gert De Roo (Groningen University, The Netherlands) and Stefano Moroni (Polytechnic of Milan, Italy); Nancy Holman (London School of economics, London, UK) and Ron Boschma (Utrecht University, The Netherlands).

A Final Round Table to reflect on the new sciences and actions for complex cities brings together scholars from different fields of research: Evert Meijers (Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands), Alessandro Balducci (Polytechnic of Milan, Italy); Alessandra Faggian (GSSI, L’Aquila, Italy), Jean Hillier via Skype (RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia); Serena Vicari Haddock (Milano-Bicocca University); Camilla Perrone (University of Florence, Italy).

The round table keynote speakers will be asked to create connections among the three innovation drivers while identifying new research challenges for complex cities as well as policy and planning implications.

Three keynote-chairs will lead speeches and conversations: Ward Rauws (Groningen University, The Netherlands), Camilla Perrone (University of Florence, Italy), Mauro Lombardi (University of Florence).

The conference will be structured around three foundational themes of the SIPCITY:

  • Innovation driver 1: "Data Science”: cities as information flows (mobility, energy, food, water, ecosystem services) and complex networks (a new urban science, digital information, spatial and urban network, quantitative urbanism, modeling cities and the creation of self-organizing systems, “innovation accelerators”, agent-based computer simulations for studying social coordination, cooperation, norms, crime and conflict).
  • Innovation driver 2: “Self-organisation and framework rules for complex cities” (rules, spontaneous changes, planning interventions and the innovating capacity of self-organising cities).
  • Innovation driver 3: “Ecosystems of Innovation” (knowledge-based economy, complexity and regional diversification, geography of innovation, proximity and relatedness, evolution of spatial networks,complex relationships in the multi-level and multi-actor partnerships in modern governing arrangements, interplay between physical infrastructures and cyber infrastructure).

The conference will also be the opportunity to present some preliminary results of the project title “Innovation stories.0” (Italian portrait of urban innovation: how cities think nowadays), promoted by Urban@it (National Study Centre for Urban Policy, Italy) and coordinated by Valeria Fedeli and Camilla Perrone.

Please send proposals with reference to one of the three innovation drivers to camilla.perrone@unifi.it. Abstracts of 150-200 words are due by October 25th, 2017.

Selections will be made by the conference organizing committee and communicated to applicants by November 5th, 2017.

Attendance for the conference is free but unfortunately we will be unable to pay for travel, accommodation and other costs attached to attending. We will provide letters of invitation upon request for visa purposes.

Conference results will be published in the following editorial products:

  1. An international book with a selection of presentations and papers
  2. A special issue of an international peer reviewed journal with a selection of papers
  3. A conference proceedings book

Conference Introduction

Today's scenario is characterized by a global connectivity space where uninterrupted streams of information, people and goods flow, through multi-scale socio-economic processes.

All of this requires rethinking well-accepted mental frames as individual capabilities, businesses actions, communities and territorial agglomerations evolve in a new and unceasingly changing landscape.

The city, which was the crucial element of industrial society in the last two centuries, should then be redefined in relation to the global connective space and the so-called knowledge-based economy. The variable set of functional changes, which are intrinsically linked to the multiplicity of multi-scale processes, is one of the most important future research topics.

We believe that now it is necessary to develop a systematic and thorough comparison between the plurality of visions and cognitive strategies developed by many Research Centers and scholars, starting from the awareness that the concept of space needs to be reconsidered in the plural acceptation of ‘spatialities’.

We propose indeed a collective reflection based on the following considerations:

 1) a different analytic perspective for analyzing cities must be conceived as open multi-scale flow systems, organized on ever-evolving function structures. To this aim, "history matters", that is, what a city has been in the past and how it has evolved, but ongoing dynamic processes.

2) the systemic framework and the assumption of open flow systems indicates that the key factor to consider is the ability either to reinvent itself into the streams of current cyber-physical micro-universes, or to create new ones. 

3) The intrinsically dynamic nature of the city implies that it needs to be considered as a variable set of both top-down and bottom-up transformation processes. Thus, a fundamental component of urban dynamics is the ability of reinventing itself in the light of global techno-economic dynamic.

4) It is more and more important to focus on one crucial aspect: the breadth and depth of the current innovation dynamics are generating new and increasing asymmetries and inequalities, which are inherent in urban development, even if they assume different forms depending on the evolutionary specificity of contexts.

Finally, the city as an organic whole of evolutionary sub-systems, which are in turn connected to multi-scale processes, is viable and dynamic only if the focus is on the ability of achieving a dynamic combination of endogenous and exogenous driving factors.

The conference will dig into these questions through the lenses of three innovation drivers (mentioned aboive) which reflect the foundational themes of the SPINCITYresearch. 

The conference is co-organised by University of Florence (Camilla Perrone, Mauro Lombardi and Marika Macchi), Groningen University (Rauws Ward), Politecnico di Milano (Stefano Moroni, Stefano Cozzolino and Valeria Fedeli) Gran Sasso Science Institute (Alessandra Faggian and Francesco Chiodelli) and SIU (Società Italiana degli urbanisti – Italian Society of Urbanists).

Please direct questions or inquiries to camilla.perrone@unifi.it

For organisational details write to: flavia.giallorenzo@gmail.com; stefaniagalli2@gmail.com.