48260 Ermua, Spain

Episode#45 Ermua & The drOp Project: “Innovation is the Key”

GuestsJosu Ansola, the Director of Economic Development of the Municipality of Ermua, Spain

Date of recording: 21 September 2023

Find transcript here


Summaries of Key Takeaways:  

  • Innovation as a Key for Development: Josu Ansola emphasizes innovation's crucial role in ensuring long-term economic growth and development. 
  • Impulso Network Leadership: Ermua's presidency in the Impulso Network fosters collaboration among Spanish cities on science and innovation. 
  • drOp Project Goals: Aims to develop a methodology for transforming socially distanced districts into greener, more digital, and socially integrated spaces. 
  • Citizen Involvement: Highlights the project's focus on citizen participation in co-creation processes for neighborhood development. 
  • Economic and Social Innovation: The project seeks to stimulate economic development through cultural, creative industries, and new energy efficiency models. 
  • Cross-City Collaboration: Ermua collaborates with Elva in Estonia and Matera in Italy, sharing methodologies and learning from each city's specialization. 


“To you, what is a Smart City?”

Josu Ansola: “Well, for me, I think that we can't forget where I start. The concept of a smart city. Smart city is always really linked with technology. And after this definition we also have read or have heard a lot of the smart city people, yes, different people can understand what smart is for them. But the definition of smart city is linked with technology. I don't want to say that everything is technology. Without technology we can be really smart, but technology is the ingredient that helps to be smarter. But we need people that really want and believe in technology to be smart.”   



  • Engaging citizens empowers them to shape the future of their communities

"In terms of social innovation, [the drOp project] promotes the participation of the citizens in processes of co-creation. We want that the citizens of these places to have the opportunity to think about the future of this neighbourhood. And in addition, the neighbourhood we will deploy will implement an office where any citizen can be consulted or support the processes of neighbourhood, housing, rehabilitation. Then it's like centres, the centre of the neighbourhood where all the citizens can share their needs, in this case with the municipality. [...]

We think that this co-creation starts with citizens from the initial phase of the project. Then they are participating in the design phase of the project, what they want to be in the future, what they want their neighbourhood to be in the future. But it’s not only in the second phase that you have to design what you want. No, it’s defined at the beginning." - Josu Ansola

  • By fostering economic development , cities generates attractive ecosystems​​​​​​​

"In terms of economic development as the second pillar, the drOp project aims to attract and stimulates the economic development by promoting cultural and creative industries. It also aims to explore another type of energy generation and efficiency models. [...]

We know that this part of the project will be the more complicated because it's not up to you. You can promote it, but it's not up to you to attract cultural and creative industries in this place.

But we also think that economic development is fundamental for the life of the neighbourhood. And the presence of economic activity guarantees the presence of people and relationships and activity in general. We believe that by fostering this type of businesses and dynamics, we can generate new and more attractive ecosystems and add value to the space of this neighbourhood." - Josu Ansola

  • Technology can enhance the quality of life for residents

"One of the characteristics of this neighbourhood is that mainly citizens tend to be older than in other places because you know that these buildings are really more older. Then we can contribute to the quality of life of these people with technology because, for example, with the people that live alone or people that have difficulties to communicate with their families, we can contribute with technology to create a nicer life for these people. Because, in this neighbourhood, the space doesn't help them to have this type of relationship. Because it’s about accessibility or other type of difficulties. Then, we don't know which type of technology will be implemented because they have to define it in this process of co-creation. They have to say what their priorities are. And after all of that, we can think what type of technology can answer to these priorities.” - Josu Ansola

  • Cities can address climate neutrality through energy efficiency

“We are exploring climate neutrality solutions in this case by concentrating on the process of energy generation. Because one of the characteristics of these places, of these neighbourhoods, is that if you want to be more efficient, the investments that you need are really big with this type of buildings. In the case of Santa Ana, it's really well oriented to generate energy with the sun. Then we are exploring, we know more or less what technology can contribute to this design of neutrality. But we are exploring which business model or what management model of this generation can contribute to all neighbourhoods, not only for 1 billion or one family, but considering all the neighbourhoods as neutral in the future and generating energy for their needs.” - Josu Ansola