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Covenant of Mayors - Europe
News article4 September 2023

Revitalising European historic urban areas into vibrant and future-proof places

How to bring historic centres back to life? How to give cities back to their inhabitants despite touristification? How to transform historic but abandoned areas into vibrant, future-proof places? The HUB-IN show us...

hub-in article

European cities are rich in historical heritage, both tangible and intangible. When planning a more resilient and sustainable future for your city, how can you draw upon its past and historical essence, leverage existing heritage, and give its historic areas new life and meaning? The HUB-IN project gives us some insights that can help Covenant cities conciliate sustainable energy and climate action with urban regeneration of historic areas.

The HUB-IN project project (Hubs of Innovation and Entrepreneurship for the Transformation of Historic Urban Areas), funded under the Horizon 2020 programme, aims to transform and regenerate Historic Urban Areas (HUAs), while preserving their unique, cultural and social identity and the environment.

The goals of the project are to:

  • Reverse trends of abandonment and neglect of historic heritage
  • Create new sustainable opportunities for local traditional businesses
  • Develop new creative skills and jobs
  • Ignite new ideas and solutions by matching tradition with innovation.

The project is working in eight European cities: Covenant signatories Angoulême, Braşov, Genoa, Lisbon, Nicosia, Slovenska Bistrica and Utrecht, in addition to Belfast. The project strives to create a Europe-wide ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship looking to foster more resilient and dynamic historic urban areas.

Citizens’ engagement is key to adopting new, sustainable business models

The first step of the project was focused on the involvement of local stakeholders in co-creation workshops aimed at highlighting local needs, issues and solutions. Discussions dealt with three main themes: cultural and creative industries, resilient and human-connected places, and new lifestyles. Thanks to these workshops, each city drafted a roadmap that then led to an action plan. Now, the cities are creating their HUBs and implementing the actions needed to develop new business models. All cities are committed to implementing innovative solutions that will bring together sustainability and cultural heritage. The principles of circular and sharing economy are at the heart of the HUB-IN project, indeed.

By using engagement methods, innovative tools and developing alternative financing models, as well as acceleration programmes for start-ups, HUB-IN strives to give local stakeholders and citizens the opportunity to contribute to their HUA’s regeneration.

Genova Sculptures

A network of EU cities committed to becoming future-proof

From repopulating city centers to enhancing local culture, each pilot city has different needs, a heritage to preserve, and different problems to tackle.

If Lisbon wants to strengthen the local economy and valorise multiculturalism through circularity, the internet of things, social innovation and wise management of resources, Braşov needs to rethink the public space to make it more people-centric and promote sustainable tourism.

If Nicosia aims to attract start-ups, industry, researchers, but also tourists to revive its walled city center, Slovenska Bristrika looks for innovative ways to value building heritage, local identity and traditional productsand crafts.

If Belfast strives to revitalize the Maritime Mile area through culture and entrepreneurship, Genova is committed to improving services and outdoor spaces as well as enhancing the architectural heritage in the Caruggi area.

If Grand Angoulême wants to regenerate the Charente river area making its inhabitants proud of their hidden cultural and industrial heritage, Utrecht is transforming the Werkspoorkwartier into a business area thanks to a creative and circular making industry hub.


The innovation and entrepreneurship HUBs developed in the partner cities’ HUAs will then be scaled up to a global network of follower cities. Anyone interested in enhancing the HUA, promoting the territory, and fostering change in his/her city can be part of the HUB-IN Alliance.

Joining the Alliance gives participants opportunities to network, learn from and work with other cities and stakeholders involved in the HUB-IN project to increase the transfer of knowledge. The Alliance also enables members to gain valuable insights into boosting regeneration, innovation and entrepreneurship in their HUA, whilst working together for a piloted approach to using cultural heritage to gain a competitive advantage in attracting investment, businesses and skilled workers. Twelve municipalities and organizations from all over Europe have recently joined the network.

If you are interested in learning more, visit the website and send an application!


Publication date
4 September 2023