The city of Bilbao 

Bilbao is the 4th Southern European City in the overall and FDI strategy categories in the FDi European Cities and Regions of the Future Ranking (2014) and also the 9th Mid-sized European City in the overall category of the FDi European Cities and Regions of the Future Ranking (2014).

New economy and territory: from urban transformation to knowledge economy

Bilbao underwent a process of urban regeneration addressing the physical decline of the city after being highly dependent on those activities (notably, shipbuilding and steel industry) more severely hit by the economic crisis of the 1980s. This process largely focused on environmental improvements and physical renewal has given way to a policy-framework where economic development has become dominant. Bilbao is articulating a project of future for the city with some policy priorities being particularly worth noticing:

  • To compete in the global scene it is necessary to reach an important international dimension. To this end, the new scale of Bilbao must transcend the municipal boundaries to align its urban model at the regional or even mega regional scale. Cooperation with eight medium-sized cities in Southwest France and North Spain will make it possible to reach a functional area of more than 3 million people.
  • A strategy for smart specialization is being followed with four sectors being highly prioritised: Creative Industries, Art, Technology & Design; Health & Tourism; Eco-Technology & Urban Solutions; Advanced Business Services.
  • The success in the process of urban regeneration (largely based on local companies) is bringing about an increase in the international reach of the city and its companies. Efforts will continue to be better placed on the global scale.
  • Structural changes in the economy demand new skills brought by University to play a leading role. The City Council is encouraging new Universities to be located in Bilbao with the aim of achieving academic excellence.
  • Finally yet importantly, the city´s strategy encompasses some policies to be implemented on the ground: strengthening external accessibility and internal connectivity; the achievement of a more balanced growth across space with economic activity being planned for different boroughs; the role of culture as a major driver of economic development and social cohesion.
Challenges in Bilbao Smart Strategy

The European Cities must currently respond to major strategic challenges such as aging population, global economic crisis, changes in the use of energy and natural resources, technological breakthroughs, global environment, security risks, absorb increasing migration and so on.

Bilbao is trying to face these challenges through the“Bilbao smart strategy” which focuses on 5 axis:

  • Strategic vision 
  • Smart management 
  • City ecosystem development 
  • Infrastructure development 
  • Improvement  of citizens’ participation and social cohesion

The first axis is a Strategic vision of the problems and solutions of the City of Bilbao. Our Vision is to achieve a more efficient and competitive city, greater social cohesion, boost economic improvement, achieve sustainable management of projects, be open to the world, based in the citizens...

The key projects in the axis of the Strategic Vision are focused on the Development of tools based on Big Data technologies aiming to:
  • Obtain descriptive models
  • Analyze of different role models

The second axis is an intelligent management model where the main challenges are: 

  • Give place to a holistic vision and generate City Management Indicators
  • Achieve greater efficiency in the administration: e-Administration , Security...
  • Increase efficiency in the Urban Services: Mobility, Waste Management...
  • Provide effective support mechanisms for boosting the economy

The third axis is the City Ecosystem Development. In this area, Bilbao city tries to give response to two main challenges:

  • To develop partnerships with universities, technology centers, Productive sectors
  • Development of actions Living Lab

In the axis of Infrastructure Development, the main challenges:

  • Improving connectivity among citizens
  • Development of City Council Mobility Solutions
  • Development of City Infrastructure

In the axis of Development Participation and Social Cohesion, the main challenges are:

  • Engage and empower citizens
  • Public participation in decision making