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Barcelona City Council and the UOC launch the MatchImpulsa programme to progress with the digitization of the social and solidarity economy

 

Photo: Antonio Janeski en Unsplash

The programme is the first of the new Open Chair in Digital Economy, created by the council and the UOC

Until 2021, €701,500 will be invested in the chair to fund social and solidarity economy (SSE) and collaborative economy projects, as well as providing advice and mentoring, to enhance relations in specific sectors, and to encourage collaboration between different projects to increase their volume and their strength

The aim is for the SSE and the collaborative economy sector to fully embrace the digital economy at a time of change of business and consumption model which has accelerated since the beginning of the pandemic. This is one of the key goals established by the SSE City Strategy developed with the city fabric

The programme incorporates the gender perspective in a cross-cutting manner to mitigate the increase in gender inequality associated with digitization processes

Barcelona City Council and the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya launch the MatchImpulsa programme to encourage the digitization of the social and solidarity economy and the collaborative economy. The aim is for organizations and companies from this economic sphere to fully embrace the digital economy at a time of change of business and consumption model which has accelerated since the beginning of the pandemic. The 2030 SSE City Strategy identifies the challenge of digitization and the creation of digital platforms among its main goals. MatchImpulsa has been created to achieve this goal together with the UOC's Dimmons research group, which also participated in the drafting of the strategy.

The MatchImpulsa project arrives after five years of collaboration on different SSE projects between the council and the UOC, such as the Sharing Cities summit which agreed on the first global declaration of cities with the 10 principles and commitments of cities in relation to SSE digital platforms. Based on this prior experience, Barcelona City Council, through Barcelona Activa, and the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya are creating a stable programme between 2021 and 2023, in the context of the launch of the Barcelona UOC Chair in Digital Economy. The total cost of this chair until 2021 is €701,500, and Barcelona City Council has undertaken to contribute 55% of the total for this period.      

The programme includes plans for support, mentoring and funding of SSE projects, tools for collaboration between technology companies and social and solidarity and collaborative economy organizations, the development of digital equality measures and plans in organizations from the sector and tools to strengthen the strategic sectors of Barcelona's collaborative economy, such as agro-ecology and the sphere of digital feminism.

It also includes support for the internationalization of the projects and counts on advice from international cognoscenti such as Trebor Scholz (New York School), expert in platform cooperativism, Yochai Benkler (Harvard University), expert in economies based on open knowledge, Catherine D’Ignazio (MIT), expert in data and gender, and Sasha Costanza Chock (MIT), expert in inclusive digital design.

The initiative seeks to mitigate the increase in inequalities that can arise from digitization processes, and to accelerate the adoption of equality measures in the digital environments of companies.

 

Digitization of organizations and companies, and creation and strengthening of digital platforms

Three different programmes are launched to encourage the digitization and creation of digital platforms in companies and organizations:

 

MatchImpulsa 100

It aims to help 100 companies and organizations from the social and solidarity economy and the collaborative economy which want a more mature digital strategy, adapting their organizational model to teleworking and beginning to work with digital platforms. The programme will be carried out between 25 May and 31 December 2021, and to participate you should register on the website matchimpulsa.barcelona.

Over seven months, the 100 companies or organizations selected will receive more than 100 hours of training on economic acceleration using digital platforms, organizational management models taking into account the teleworking model and the gender perspective; technological solutions for their organization bearing sovereignty in mind; or on how to implement effective equality plans in a digital environment. A final module, geared toward organizations related to the food sector, will address the challenges raised by projects from the sustainable food sphere in their economic acceleration and the development of platforms, taking advantage of the fact that during 2021 Barcelona has been designated World Sustainable Food Capital.  Each participant will establish their own 100-hour pathway based on the programme offering and on their interests.

 

MatchImpulsa 20

It is intended for 20 SSE companies or organizations which are ready to design their prototype platform. Besides the training that the organizations will receive from MatchImpulsa 100, these 20 will have a mentor to guide them and individualized support from a "Premium 20 Consultancy" with experts in business acceleration, digital platform creation and development, technological knowledge or gender equality practices.

Finally, possible partnerships between the participants' projects and the university and research sector will be analysed. The following will thus be enabled: a personalized consultation channel, access to calls for European funding, specific announcements of entrepreneurship awards, or collaboration synergies between the 20 projects and the University.

The programme will begin on 25 June and will last four weeks. The 20 companies must be participating in MatchImpulsa 100, specifically include digital business models, either have their headquarters/office in Barcelona or a significant and demonstrable impact on the city, and have had economic activity over the last two years.

 

MatchImpulsa 10

10 of the projects participating in MatchImpulsa 20 will be selected. In addition to advice and mentoring, the 10 organizations and companies which participate will receive funding to build their digital platform or prototype during the last months of 2021. Each project will thus be funded partly with public aid, and work will be undertaken with the company or organization so that it can launch a crowdfunding campaign in the best conditions possible. The project will receive the same amount of public funding as it achieves through crowdfunding, up to a maximum public investment of €10,000 per project.

This is the second time that a system like this has been used in a municipal call. On the first occasion, the "Conjuntament" (Together) programme supported projects linked to local development. The companies also received advice and guidance on how to launch the crowdfunding campaign and ended up obtaining 2.5 times more collective investment than the total budget foreseen as municipal aid. That is, the aid that they received was 3.5 times that initially envisaged.

The 10 social and solidarity economy companies or organizations participating in MatchImpulsa 10 will build their digital platforms in 2021, monitored by a mentor and with the support of experts in technology (MatchTech), in the implementation of equality measures and plans (MatchIgualtat) and in relations between the business world and the academia. The programme also includes training, networking sessions with other companies and organizations and with other experts, and mentoring.

MatchImpulsa 10 will begin on 21 September and will last until December.

 

Agro-ecology and the feminist digital economy, key SSE ecosystems in Barcelona

Apart from the MatchImpulsa 100, 20 and 10 programmes, work will also be carried out on the specific reinforcement of two ecosystems considered to be strategic for the social and solidarity economy and the collaborative economy in Barcelona: agro-ecology and digital feminism.

 

Digitization and cooperation in the agri-food sector:

This sector still has low levels of digital development. The project aims to consolidate a network of relations between the different agents, a local digital ecosystem, in order to highlight the agro-ecology community existing in the city and to encourage the different agents to exchange information, cooperate and work together both on the consolidation of the ecosystem, and on their growth and digital development.

This year, in which Barcelona is World Sustainable Food Capital, should allow the agents working in agro-ecology in the city to increase their scale and have a greater presence in the city. This instrument aims to help, creating a specific digital space within the MatchImpulsa programme's digital portal. The members of this group will receive training and skill building through the programme. You can register on the matchImpulsa.barcelona portal.

 

Digitization and Feminist Digital Economy

The objective is to develop an ecosystem of feminist practices and values in Barcelona's digital economy and to create a resource to empower women and promote alternative masculinities in the digital economy. As with agro-ecology, the objective is to create a specific virtual space for entities and organizations working in this sphere to be able to cooperate and maintain stable relations. At the same time, the professionals will be trained through the resources of the MatchImpulsa programme. Entities and groups from the feminist economy and organizations which are incorporating feminism in a cross-cutting manner can participate.

To achieve this, a mapping of the sector will be performed, together with an analysis of the different players in order to detect opportunities, and training and communication channels between the participants will be provided so that they can work together in accordance with the opportunities detected.  

 

Groups of Experts in Technology, Equality and University-Business

Finally, three programmes will be created as a resource for companies to be able to progress with digitization. The first, called MatchTech, will consist of software development companies and entities. Its aim is to promote software with transforming values for the MatchImpulsa programme and to be potential suppliers for the companies and organizations participating when it comes to implementing new digital tools. The second programme, MatchIgualtat, brings together all those organizations and companies devoted to implementing equality measures in other organizations. Finally, the third resource is that of University-Business. Its objective is to generate knowledge and promote collaboration spaces between the world of business and universities and research centres.

 

Registration and participation in the MatchCampus virtual campus

On registering with MatchImpulsa, participants will be able to design their own online path on the MatchCampus, the main area where the programme will be implemented. Everyone who works in a company can participate, but each one will need to register individually to be able to access the MatchCampus. Participation is free and will be open until MatchImpulsa ends in December 2021, although the organization recommends registering as soon as possible in order to enjoy "all the incentives offered by the programme."

Moreover, the call to participate in MatchImpulsa 20 and MatchImpulsa 10 will be undertaken through a selection process, and one of the requirements will be to have formed part of MatchImpulsa 100. As regards organizations from the feminist sphere working on gender equality or technology providers, the idea is that they participate through the MatchIgualtat and MatchTech programmes, respectively, giving their services visibility, participating in the training and eventually developing the platform prototypes of the companies participating in MatchImpulsa 10.

 

Open Chair in Digital Economy

The Barcelona UOC Chair in Digital Economy. For a collaborative economy centred on people's well-being and the right to the city (Open_Chair) is the result of an agreement between Barcelona City Council (Barcelona Activa and the Commissioner for Social Economy, Local Development and Food Policy) and the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, and is led by the digital economy expert Mayo Fuster Morell from the Dimmons research group. The Open_Chair's mission is to promote strategic actions, connections, work dynamics and instruments to ensure that public policies and the ecosystem of cities can confront the challenges of the platform economy and take advantage of its opportunities for their development and democratization based on action research, the co-creation of public policies, entrepreneurial drive and training.

The aim is to have an impact on the following public policies:

  • Include the Sharing Cities Declaration regarding the platform economy in the policies of Barcelona City Council (Part of the 2019 Government Agreement).
  • The 2030 Agenda for global sustainability.
  • Barcelona Green Deal for the development of the city's digital economy.
  • 2030 Social and Solidarity Economy City Strategy and the 2020-2023 SSE Promotion Plan, for social democratization of the economy.
  • Plan for gender justice, for an economic model with a gender perspective and feminist commitment.
  • 2020-2023 Barcelona Science Plan, as an "open" chair which aims to innovate in joint action between a government institution and a knowledge institution.