Highlights of our EDF meeting in Grenoble: internationalisation and economic attractiveness

  • economy

Our autumn Economic Development Forum (EDF) meeting took place in Grenoble on 17-19 October and it focused on the internationalisation of cities and economic attraction. More than 100 participants, including 5 elected city politicians, from around 50 cities discussed and shared experiences on the links between internationalisation and economic development in cities, the changing trends of international cooperation and their impacts on local development policies and the strategies developed by cities with/toward other continents.

Tanja Wehsely, EDF chair and councillor of the city of Vienna, Claus Habfast, Vice-President Grenoble Alpes-Metropole, and Martin Zahner, Grenoble Ecole de Management (GEM), opened the meeting on 17 October. Tanja Wehsley highlighted the fundamental role that cities have to play now for a better Europe for citizens. The Vice-President Habfast presented the Grenoble Alpes-Metropole and its plan of action for the internationalisation. Martin Zahner stressed the importance for the local development of linking the city’s and university’s strategies.

On 18 October, the two keynote speeches by Rose-Marie Di Donato and Peter Ramsden gave several inputs for the internationalisation strategies at the local level. In particular, Ms. Di Donato underlined the relevance of a long-term strategy and the need to wait for medium term «return on investment». Mr. Ramsed focused his speech on the factors that impact on urban level, stressing necessity of choosing a clear method for rooting transnational learning in local policy.

During the plenary session, the two panel debates offered a complete overview of the different experiences in cities internationalisation and economic attraction. The first panel focused on the multilevel approach as a way of acting, presenting the European, national and local actions in the case of France. In the second panel Vienna, Nantes Metropole, Terrassa, Barcelona, Helsinki presented their approaches and discussed on the next challenges for the cities. Over 20 students from Insitut d’Etudes Politiques de Grenoble participated at the plenary session with questions and presentations.

Our members debated during the speed-networking session on the iCapital award and on the different initiatives of international cooperation supported by our cities.

Our forum included study visits of: Start-up attraction as a tool for internationalisation: Inovallée/Tarmac; STMicroelectronics Grenoble – World leader in semiconductors; Heritage tour of the university campus and arts campus.

During the last day, the EDF member elected the new chair and vice-chair of the forum: Nantes Metropole and Helsinki. Furthermore, they discussed the proposal for the EDF strategy 2019-2021.

Working groups meetings
WG Innovation members discussed on how to manage night time economy and the follow up on the paper Local Innovative Ecosystem. The debates stressed the importance to face the new urban challenges analysing the different ecosystems that act in the cities. The members elected Helsinki as new Chair and Espoo as new Vice Chair.
WG City Branding and International Economic Relations shared experience on how to measure the effectiveness of the city branding strategy – the monitoring and the evaluation process. Furthermore, a critical friend review on the case of Barcelona took place during the working group meeting. The session moderated by Sebastian Zenker (Copenhagen Business School) highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of the Barcelona’s strategy. The members elected Barcelona as new Chair and Genoa, Terrassa and Ghent as new co-Vice Chairs.
WG Entrepreneurship and SMEs members discussed how the cities provide with optimal support to international talent and SMEs. The presentations by different actors of the local context (cities, university and urban agency) and the debate underlined the relevance of a holistic approach to support SMEs and entrepreneurship in the internationalisation process. The members elected Braga as new chair and Barcelona as new Vice Chair.
The next EDF meetings:
- Spring meeting: 27-29 March 2019 in Florence - ecosystem of innovation.
- Autumn meeting: 16-18 October 2019 in Munich.
You can find all the presentations for the general sessions here
Presentations of the WG Innovation here
Presentations of the WG City Branding and International Economic Relations here
Presentations of the Entrepreneurship and SMEs here

EUROCITIES staff contact

Aleksandra Olejnik