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European Creative Cities

The European Creative and SMART Cities Challenge was initiated in response to a request to engage the leaders and citizens of Nottingham and two of its twin cities on how European future cities might work with their universities to solve local and global challenges. Read more about this project on this page.

European Creative and SMART Cities Challenge

The project saw NTU contributing to both the 50th Anniversary celebrations of the twin city relationship between Karlsruhe, Germany and Nottingham and the 10th anniversary of the twin city of Timişoara, Romania. 108 students, 53% of whom were from widening participation (WP) backgrounds, and 12 academic mentors joined an 8-day tour to either Karlsruhe or Timişoara where they were asked to address the following enquiry-based learning challenge:

  • How can cities and universities work together to support creativity and innovation? This was inspired by the central roles of creativity and innovation in Nottingham’s regeneration plans, Building a Better Nottingham and Future City Strategy, Smart Nottingham.

Under the guidance of the academic mentors, the students were divided into cross-subject teams of eight or nine members, and travelled from Nottingham to Karlsruhe and Timişoara by train. They visited at least one other SMART or creative city along the way, exploring how creativity and innovation were being supported in different sectors in cities in France, the Netherlands, Austria and Hungary.

Four NTU Media students were waiting on arrival in both Timişoara and Karlsruhe to film the students’ participation in a 3-day programme co-organised by local university partners and City Councils. This included academic seminars, industry visits and cultural activities. The NTU students were assigned local student buddies in both cities who introduced them to the City and helped them develop their research. The students were also joined by the Chief Executive of Nottingham City Council for formal receptions hosted by the Mayors of both twin cities.

On their return to Nottingham, a showcase event took place at Nottingham Council House which saw the students present their findings and recommendations to senior members of NTU, Nottingham City Council, the Lord Mayor and representatives from Karlsruhe and Timişoara. The students worked in their cross-subject teams to present a poster and a two-minute pitch that they had developed ahead of the event. Nottingham City Council representatives were so impressed by the students’ innovative ideas on how to improve the City that they offered four internships for selected students to work in its Economic Development Team during the next academic year.

As a result of the visit, NTU developed a new academic partnership with Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences (HsKA) which has increased the number of exchange places and project opportunities available to NTU students in Germany. NTU was also able to broaden and deepen its existing partnership with West University of Timişoara (UVT) to new subject areas including a two-way student enterprise exchange.

Professor Edward Peck, NTU Vice-Chancellor, said: “At times of uncertainty about our relationship with Europe, it is more important than ever to celebrate the benefits that the University - and especially our students - gain from our connections with the rest of the Continent.”

The then Chief Executive of Nottingham City Council said: “This project forms part of the emerging City Centre Strategy focusing on how we can build resilience for the city centre into the 2020s. The showcase event was an opportunity for the students to present their innovative ideas on how to improve the City and was an example of how NTU and indeed the University of Nottingham are important partners in driving forward the ingenuity agenda in the City.”

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Europe Team