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Award category
Regenerated urban and rural spaces
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NEW EUROPEAN BAUHAUS AWARDS : existing completed examples
Project title
Full project title
OpenAgri - New Skills for new Jobs in Peri-urban Agriculture
OpenAgri seeks to improve interaction between traditional knowledge holders (agricultural communities) and other more innovative actors (Research Centres, business accelerators); to favour connections between sectors (agriculture, food industry, culture, etc) and the hybridization between them (SMEs, NGOs, Public Administration) aiming to experiment with a model of innovation and inclusive growth, taking a step forward in the process Milan Municipality has started to increase urban resilience.
Where was your project implemented in the EU?
via San Dionigi 78
45° 25′ 53″ N
9° 13′ 29″ E
When was your project implemented?
Has your project benefited from EU programmes or funds?
Which programme(s) or fund(s)? Provide the name of the programme(s)/fund(s), the strand/action line as relevant and the year.

The OpenAgri project has been funded by the Urban Innovative Actions Initiative - First Call 2016 - Topic: Jobs and skills in the local economy.

Please provide a summary of your project
OpenAgri is intended as an integrated urban strategy which – focusing on the agri-food sector – addresses multidimensional challenges affecting a peripheral area within the south of the city. Together with agricultural lands, ancient farmlands and historical sites (e.g., Chiaravalle Abbey), the target area accommodates what the city has rejected and expelled over the years: discos, scrapyards, Roma camps, disadvantaged groups, etc. On the other hand, this area boasts important endowments (e.g., availability of land) and significant social resources (in terms of NGOs and community actors that work here) which can contribute to the growth of the city. Core of the project is the creation of an open innovation hub on Peri-Urban Agriculture in Cascina Nosedo, an ancient farmhouse located in the Nosedo-Porto di Mare area. The rationale of the project was that the renovated site of Cascina Nosedo, together with a 30 hectares plot of uncultivated land owned by the Municipality, should serve as a living lab for social inclusion, jobs and skills creation, open innovation along food supply chain while increasing resilience and sustainability. Beyond the renovation of the site (the territorial and urban dimensions of the project), different integrated solutions were proposed by the project to address the multiple challenges affecting the area: activities involving SMEs, start-ups (entrepreneurial dimension), community-led initiatives for social inclusion (social dimension), new approach and tools for food production and delivery (technology and innovation dimension). By focusing on different policy dimensions, the project addresses three main priorities related to the growth of Milan including development of peri-urban areas, support to entrepreneurship and implementation of Milan’s Food Policy with the participation of Academia, CBOs, NGOs, Public Bodies, incubators and other territorial actors, oriented towards agricultural and ecological innovation.
Please give information about the key objectives of your project in terms of sustainability and how these have been met
OpenAgri aims at being environmentally, financially and socially sustainable. Its aim is to increase the level of food sustainability, create new high-level job opportunities and enhance the social-cohesion throughout the regeneration of forgotten peri-urban areas. Cascina Nosedo is a rural building located in the urban fringe of greater Milan, which was renovated as the new project hub (Image 1;2;3). In addition, 30 hectares of municipally owned farmland complete the farmstead's endowments and have been made available to the project (Image 4). This innovative pole will host a series of key project activities whose requirement and characteristic is of pursuing and achieving the aforementioned triple sustainability: a lab/kitchen called OffiCucina, an Aquaponics Greenhouse, and an experimental Lab (Masterplan18×30) entailing the implementation of 18 activities (with environmental, technological or social state-of-the-art solutions), across the 30 ha delimiting Cascina Nosedo. A few examples: the 4ha used for the “SMAF- Smart Agriculture for Flowers” multifunctional and precision agriculture project, a break-through innovation for the optimization of water consumption  through cultivation of alimurgical, edible and aromatic flowers Or the project implemented by “IO P-ORTO”, a cooperative proposing a path of job placement of migrant people based on a set of gardening-related activities. Or the activity carried out by bread-maker Davide Longoni who carefully selects his supply chain by choosing the best and most attentive suppliers in terms of materials and processes. In this process, urban and rural areas are no more distinct and incompatible realities but are eventually linked by the existence of a transition area, which homogeneously combines the technological progress typical of metropolitan areas with the environmental sustainability of rural spots.
Please give information about the key objectives of your project in terms of aesthetics and quality of experience beyond functionality and how these have been met
Achieving a balance between a strong urbanisation and the preservation of the ecosystem services (food production, soil and water regulation, urban cooling, air purification and recreation) provided by the green-agro infrastructure in the peri-urban interface is of great relevance and impact. OpenAgri vision was strengthened by the recognition of the multi-functional role of agriculture and the engagement of a wide range of local stakeholders to assist in developing a shared urban–rural strategy, raising awareness on the landscape’s value as a place of relation. The project addressed the “aesthetics of place”, which is crucial in the initial arrangement—and the potential re-arrangements—of people’s multidimensional and dynamic relation to their environment. Among the most interesting experiments, OpenAgri partners collaborated on activities based on “landscape theatres” (Image 5) as experimental artistic installations. Landscape theatres are conceived to activate local regeneration processes, by attracting the local community in the remarkable spots of a territory. Moreover, an international open call for “artist in residence” has been launched with the purpose to select a research project in the scope of contemporary artistic languages (such as performance, public and participatory art) for a nine-week long residency, interacting creatively with Openagri’s partnership and activities. This art residency brought the attention of citizens about the beauty and the challenges of suburban landscape. A first phase was dedicated to artistic activities with children, and to a series of explorations of the neighbourhood and the borders between the countryside and the city in search for local mythology and collective ritual dimension. The second one engaged adults in a peri-urban walk exploration to the Nosedo farm. The Residency ended on 28 Sept. 2020, with an open event called MIST– Ritual for Landscape in Transition. 
Please give information about the key objectives of your project in terms of inclusion and how these have been met
Community-led initiatives for inclusion, social and territorial cohesion have been implemented, being the main purpose strengthening and implementing services, initiatives and skills especially for disadvantaged groups. A set of Social Labs have been specifically designed to hold together innovation and inclusion, to make a positive and lasting impact on the local area. A wide, local network of actors with significant expertise in the field of training, social development, integration and cultural promotion has consolidated its presence and increased its impact on the territory. On the other hand, the project has stimulated new collaborations between partners, resulting in a hybridization of approaches, tools and innovative ways of upgrading skills and recognizing the latent skills of those that have not had adequate basic education. Among the formats explored, the “Officucina”: an exclusive food fablab blending culinary tools with 3D printers, laser cutters, sensors, Arduino, etc. powered by Future Food Institute. This model has been adapted to an experimental training program on food innovation aimed at 7 young people with minor disabilities coming from a training centre managed by the Municipality of Milan (Image 6). The programme focused on “fermentation” as a tool to be applied in the kitchen for enhancement of food waste, fight against food waste and for human health, and it is the result of adapting a model that Future Food Institute has created and successfully tested in other realities including their space in Bologna - Scuderia Future Food Urban Coolab.  Moreover, through the OpenAgri’s Open Badge Pathways on Bestr, learners have been enabled to obtain recognition not only of single skills developed in learning experiences but also of macro-skills achieved through learning pathways.
Please give information on the results/impacts achieved by your project in relation to the category you apply for
OpenAgri impacts can be summarized in 3 main areas: Tangible impacts on the regeneration of a fringe area of the city; Improved entrepreneurship by fostering the creation of innovative firms and social enterprises focusing on sustainability in peri-urban agriculture and the agri‐food sector; Improved soft and tech skills for people who have attended the training activities of the project; increased intersectoral collaboration and policy integration within the Municipality; established best practices in public-private partnership projects in the field of economic development and innovation in peri-urban agriculture and the urban food system. At the end of the three years of the project, we can highlight some results that forecast more solid and lasting impacts on a medium-long term scenario: A side-effect of the regeneration process: OpenAgri acted as a driving force for other initiatives and transformative projects that ignited sustainable changes locally; New Companies and NGOs have stemmed from the incubation program, while existing companies launched new product or service lines based on the sustainability of supply chains. Overall, innovative and circular business models in the agrifood sector, with a focus on social impacts have been explored; Innovative skills have been developed as a result of the incubation program and digital “Open Badges” have been issued in order to valorize the skills identified, trained and assessed during the project. More details on achievements against project targets: (p128-132) Last but not least, a new strategic partnership was built to ensure sustainability beyond UIA. Given the strategic role and excellence of Milan-Nosedo Wastewater Treatment Plant, OpenAgri post UIA aims at creating an innovation hub serving a bigger part of the agricultural park, with a strong focus on water management and circular economy.
Please explain the way citizens benefiting from or affected by the project and civil society have been involved in the project and what has been the impact of this involvement on the project
OpenAgri partnership is a good example of a participative approach, since it has extensively brought together local stakeholders from education and training, agricultural, cultural and social sector with policymakers and public administration officers. It is a very complex and integrated project because it keeps together many different dimensions and makes them work in a specific place, but also in a wider relation to the city system. Citizens and civil society play a very important role in the Open Agri project. The consortium that is led by Comune di Milano includes local non-profit organizations whose specific task was to develop local engagement actions to strengthen awareness on the themes of sustainability, food supply chains, landscape (workshops, urban walks and visits, art residencies, public and participatory art performances). In terms of engagement of municipal staff and politicians, it has proved to be an opportunity to relate areas of competence of the administration that are very different from one another and that are used to tackle issues with a silo approach. This project necessarily had to confront with the people responsible for environment, urban planning, agriculture, labour and have them cooperate and find a common approach.
Please highlight the innovative character of the project
OpenAgri is innovative in its strong integration between the jobs and skills perspectives and the area-based dimension or the territorial one. There is a more “obvious” relationship, given the fact that Urban Innovative Actions aims at develop and test innovative solution on specific target areas. Considering the specific territorial issue of peri-urban agricultural, OpenAgri is trying to bridge agro-ecology principles with economic innovation goals (jobs and skills). In practice, the project demonstrates that it is possible to support new companies and projects aimed at sustainability of food chains and at the same time be impactful in terms of urban and territorial regeneration and landscape design. Agroecology and economic development as a synthesis for new public policies aimed at sustainability of local food systems. With this in view, the project resulted in improved interactions between traditional knowledge holders and other more innovative actors between local and city-wide realities engaged in product, services or process innovation. Moreover, it contributed to foster cross-sector linkages and hybridization between different fields (agriculture, food industry, culture, education…) and actors (SMEs, NGO, PA) with the aim of testing an innovation-driven inclusive growth model for urban fringe areas, with a potential for replicability.
Please explain how the project led to results or learnings which could be transferred to other interested parties
The project results will be transferred through the initiative UIA transfer Mechanism, that will support 3 EU cities (Almere, Vila Nova deGaia, StaraZagora) to understand, adapt and prepare to re-use the OpenAgri practice through co-creation of an investment plan.   Different types of knowledge were identified for transfer approach to urban regeneration integrating jobs and skills perspective with that of an area-based project; an integrated strategy to address the issue of Job and Skills by building on existing qualities and assets, mobilising companies and citizens to innovate, and engage them in the discovery of promising new specialisations; a multiplicity of policy and project tools to be concretely adapted to different contexts. The knowledge-transfer process will consist of 5 pillars: The Role of open innovation in developing an entrepreneurial support ecosystem: methods to foster creation of innovative firms and social enterprises focusing on innovation and sustainability in peri-urban agriculture and agri-food sector. Education & Training (Food Innovator): how to create favourable training environment to build new competencies to deploy innovative solutions in peri-urban agriculture and the food domain. Rethinking agricultural land use management in peri-urban areas: cities' role. Masterplan 18X30 as a tool to redesign the 30ha of agricultural land owned by the Municipality, according to 18 projects selected through the open call. Resilient and integrated urban development: regeneration process of a peri-urban area in Milan has started (innovative food hub). The agro-ecological and landscape design developed by the 30ha Masterplan created a new locality for the city. Long-term sustainability: business and governance models and challenges related to the future sustainability (wider policy strategy, commitment, partnerships).
Is an evaluation report or any relevant independent evaluation source available?
By ticking this box, you declare that all the information provided in this form is factually correct, that the proposed project has not been proposed for the Awards more than once under the same category and that it has not been subject to any type of investigation, which could lead to a financial correction because of irregularities or fraud.


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