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European Innovation Council

Aix-Marseille-Provence Métropole (France)

The European Capital of Innovation - Finalist: Aix-Marseille-Provence Métropole (France)

Aix-Marseille-Provence Métropole

Diversity as the key driver to build the sustainable Mediterranean city of tomorrow 

As stated in its Ambition 2040 strategy, its fundamental long-term goal is to build the sustainable Mediterranean city of tomorrow, meaning a both socially inclusive and climate-resilient city. To do so, Aix-Marseille Provence (AMP) believes in innovative diversity. As a land of contrasts and diversity, it has always been a resilient territory. Far from being drawbacks, these specific features are its driving force for innovation. For the city, innovating is not only an opportunity to create wealth but it is also a vital path to tackle its challenges.  

Innovative diversity in Aix-Marseille-Provence  

Aix-Marseille-Provence is the second largest metropolis in France. Created in 2016, this young organisation is made-up of 92 municipalities, ranging from very small villages to big cities like Marseille. The local authority manages the territory’s ecological transition and is in charge of strategical fields such as public transport, waste management, water treatment, urban planning, economic development and environmental protection. 

A land of contrast facing massive challenges 

As a land of immigration, AMP is a mosaic of people and cultures with significant social contrasts. The northern Marseille hosts some of the poorest districts in Europe while the city’s southern areas or even Aix-en-Provence have a very wealthy population. Aix-Marseille is also unique for the diversity of its landscape and nature. It has huge natural areas and a very long coastline, and it is one of the only urban areas in the world hosting a National Park. Its territory is also one of the largest industrial areas in Europe with leading companies in high-tech sectors. 

AMP is particularly impacted by the challenges of the 21st century, notably social inclusion with the northern districts of Marseille suffering from unemployment and poverty, especially among the youth. Another major challenge is air pollution. 

Putting citizens at the heart of urban policies 

AMP is a city where inhabitants are key stakeholders of urban policies. The Lab des Possibles is its inhouse policy lab dedicated to experimenting with new ways of designing and implementing social policies. For example, the lab allowed the implementation of France’s first participatory operating budget in the Belle-de-Mai district in Marseille and in the City of Port-de-Bouc. The Lab has also triggered the La Bonne Mer initiative paving the way to the organisation of inclusive regattas “les régates des possibles”!

Quartiers Libres is a participative urban project transforming 140 hectares in the poorest area in the centre of Marseille, using co-construction tools with its inhabitants. Aix-Marseille-Provence is also a pioneer area of urban agriculture policies and projects such as the Capri urban farm project born in 2021 and designed as a showcase of the ecological transition and as a demonstrator for citizens but also for other urban farmers wishing to expand their activities in the metropolis.  

Facing air quality challenges, the metropolis has developed the European DIAMS project that transforms the way air quality is monitored and managed by providing 2000 citizens and communities (40 schools equipped) with individual sensors and collecting their data in order to inspire urban policies. 

A city supporting innovative entrepreneurship for the well-being of all  

Building on an exceptionally rich and diverse ecosystem, its strategy lies on two pillars: firstly, the city supports its innovation ecosystem and help startups to grow, and secondly, as a public institution, it initiates open innovation processes.

L’Arbois science-park is the first technology park dedicated to the ecological and energy transition in France. It is currently hosting 110 startups and scale-ups developing cutting-edge technologies in such fields as energy and in particular hydrogen, agritech, water treatment or green chemistry.  Aix-Marseille-Provence is also home to a growing network of biotechnology companies that is consolidated around the Eurobiomed biotech cluster, France’s largest regional competitiveness cluster in the health sector. To operate the shift towards the digital transition, the EDIH Move2Digital will act as a one-stop shop for SMEs on the Aix-Marseille-Provence area and beyond. To boost its dense network of highly innovative startups, the metropolis offers solutions to their needs: hosting, coaching, advising and expertise (with ten incubators including Accelerator M and Marseille Innovation) but also funding (with Aix-Marseille-Provence Amorçage fund) or training (with projects like PEPITE Provence or La Plateforme Marseille). The Metropole’s Plateforme de l’innovation is opened to a wide range of public and private partners. It has become an efficient matching tool between our calls for innovation and local solutions.  

A city where different worlds meet 

Building on its innovation roadmap co-designed with a wide range of stakeholders, the metropolis is orchestrating its diverse ecosystems. Aix-Marseille City of innovation, is a unique joint venture between the Metropole, Aix-Marseille University, and two leading international corporations. It is a singular innovation hub definitely acting as a flagship for our ecosystem of innovation. Marseille also hosts a unique third place, called, l’Epopée, located in the Nothern districts of Marseille, dedicated to host and accelerate innovative projects in the fields of education and training targeting especially the so-called NEETS population. Its metropolis created a true bridge between African and European tech by founding “Emerging Valley”, the international summit that attracts African start-ups, African digital ecosystems and investors, with the ambition to strengthen their international attractiveness, develop business and accelerate their global impact.  

Euroméditerranée  

Euroméditerranée in one key initiative that illustrates its ability to tackle social, environmental and urban issues through innovation. This project is the largest urban renewal project in Europe yet located in one of its poorest districts. It is also a model for innovation for the renovation of the most vulnerable neighbourhoods. 

Euroméditerranée is a testbed for the experimentation of innovative processes and tools promoting the green and digital transition of cities. Euromediterranée is committed to duplicating these solutions throughout the city of Marseille and the whole metropolitan area, and even beyond. It also gives opportunity to accelerate innovative companies, even in Africa, especially through the open innovation initiative called « Med’innovant ».