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Effects of Urban Innovation Ecosystems on the Transformative Potential of Cities

Hendrik Franke, Georg Müller

The research is conducted periodically as a project with 17 students from bachelor’s and master’s degree programs of interdisciplinary background to create a transdisciplinary approach. The research project is part of the format of X-Tutorials by the Berlin University Alliance to promote student research initiatives and interdisciplinary explorative learning. The goal is the contribution of data for analyzing the integration of innovation clusters in city infrastructures and effects on social figurations, and to examine the role of innovation clusters in urban transformation processes, through a mixed method approach of surveys, mappings, interviews and metanalysis. The outcomes serve the evaluation of governmental strategies in what kind of innovations are fostered through the current policies/laws and what are the implications of the activities by Innovation Clusters for the economic and social future of city development. The initial phase started in October 2022 with 15 participants from 13 different fields of study with a hands-on examination of Berliner municipal innovation Ecosystem called ‘Zukunftsorte’ (Futureplaces). The city council frames their aspirations as ‘laboratory for the energy transition', 'smartest neighborhood in Berlin', 'Health City' and ‘German Oxford'. These clusters are part of the capital's strategy for the future urban development and are constantly being expanded. A closer look quickly reveals that it is not about attracting global players like Alphabet, Amazon, Meta, Microsoft or Tesla. The aim is to find solutions on grand challenges of climate change, global health, to develop technologies and economic models for the cities of tomorrow, and to embrace social responsibility.