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Strengthening regional business models and making cities liveable

04.02.2021 10:19

Strengthen regional business models and make cities liveable

The concept of economic development 4.0 is being tested in Witten, Witzenhausen and Wuppertal

Inner cities are more and more characterized by large department store and fashion chains, numerous vacancies and impersonal shopping miles – often without regional reference. The “Rollout Wirtschaftsförderung 4.0” project of the Wuppertal Institute, together with actors from the local economy, now wants to change this in Witten, Witzenhausen and Wuppertal. Repair cafés, regional products, and a mobile volunteer advice service are examples of initiatives and companies that upgrade cities and create an appreciative understanding and awareness of their own city. Jana Rasch, research assistant in the research area Urban Change at the Wuppertal Institute, speaks in a current video cast about what is behind the idea of ​​Economic Development 4.0, what goals the project pursues and gives insights into its work and its implementation in cities.

Wuppertal February 4, 2021: Already today, regional products, sharing initiatives and solidarity-based agriculture contribute to a more sustainable way of life that is oriented towards the common good. The focus is on people, because: “The residents and their commitment make a city what it is,” says Mona Treude, research assistant in the urban change research department at the Wuppertal Institute and smart city expert. Especially during the corona pandemic it became clear how important solidarity and regional security of supply are.

With the concept of “Economic Promotion 4.0”, the project team of the Wuppertal Institute and its partners want to systematically strengthen cooperative forms of business, local production and the common good. “We bring people and ideas together to create new synergies. This means that everyone can benefit equally, ”says Dr. Michael Kopatz, Senior Researcher in the research area Urban Change at the Wuppertal Institute. The aim is not to be as complete as possible for self-sufficiency, but rather more self-determination, personal responsibility and help for self-help in order to become more independent of global value chains and to create shorter ones.

Pilot project in Osnabrück

As part of the pilot project “Economic Promotion 4.0”, the Wuppertal Institute and project partners have been gathering valuable experience in Osnabrück since 2018 and implementing specific projects: A pop-up regional store served as the initial spark for the Osnabrück “Regional Products” network. Measures such as regional shelves and boxes, a regional market, a joint label and other pop-up stores were developed, initiated or implemented in order to temporarily use vacant business premises. Initiatives aimed at the common good, for example in the field of repairs, “do-it-yourself”, urban gardening and neighborhood help were also promoted.

Implementation in other cities: Witten, Witzenhausen, Wuppertal by municipal business development 4.0 managers

What started successfully in Osnabrück in 2018 has been continued by the Wuppertal Institute since the beginning of 2020 in the cities of Wuppertal, Witten and Witzenhausen as part of the “Rollout Wirtschaftsförderung 4.0” project. In each of the three cities, one position is being financed as a “Business Development 4.0 Manager” within the project funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Among other things, you are the contact person in the area of ​​local economic development for local initiatives and companies and are committed to sustainable regional economic activity in your city. They carry the idea of ​​a networked economy geared towards social participation and the common good in their units and form a networking point between the administrations, business development agencies, local companies and initiatives as well as local citizens. They work to revitalize cities, reduce vacancies, take up, support and promote sustainable initiatives. They create meeting places and organize networks that make a city more livable and at the same time more economically stable.

To structure the idea and the work on site, the Wuppertal Institute developed five business areas (see Figure 1):
• Transfer and establish alternative financial concepts (finance)
• Develop social enterprise
• Share and exchange goods, services and services (sharing economy)
• Promote local businesses (Local Business)
• Support local production

The Wuppertal Institute would also like to initiate a nationwide funding program, equivalent to the one for municipal climate protection managers in the cities. The vision of the project team: With the help of the funding program, business development 4.0 should become a matter of course in other German cities, so that vacancies in inner cities are a thing of the past.

Videocast about the project with Jana Rasch

“Important questions for life in a city are, for example, where and how we want to live, where and what we want to shop and who are the driving forces of a local economy,” says Jana Rasch, research assistant in the research area Urban Change at the Wuppertal Institute. In a recent video cast, the scientist, who together with Dr. Michael Kopatz heads the project, what is behind the idea of ​​Business Development 4.0, what goals it is pursuing and gives insights into the project work and implementation in the cities. Using the example of the city of Osnabrück, she also makes it clear how the project can be successfully implemented.

Scientific contact:

Dr. Michael Kopatz, Senior Researcher in the Research Area Urban Change: https://wupperinst.org/c/wi/c/s/cd/60

Jana Rasch, Research Associate in the Research Area Urban Change: https://wupperinst.org/c/wi/c/s/cd/1007

Further information:

https://www.wirtschaftsfoerderungviernull.de/ (Website Economic Development 4.0)
https://wupperinst.org/p/wi/p/s/pd/898 (Project: Rollout Economic Development 4.0 – Renaissance of the Regions)
(Videocast with Jana Rasch)
https://www.wf-wuppertal.de/wirtschaftsfoerderung-40/ (Twin town Wuppertal)

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