Urban Innovative Actions (UIA)

The Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) programme is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The aim of UIA is to test new and unproven solutions to address urban challenges in European cities.

UIA provides two types of support for European cities:

  • The main support is offered through funding. Co-financing of 80% of the project’s activities cost is available with a maximum of EUR 5 million per project.
  • Besides, UIA captures and exchanges knowledge that is generated in your project. As in a scientific experiment, the initiative is interested in understanding what worked and what not and will therefore, draw lessons, capture the knowledge and share it with other relevant stakeholders such as policy-makers and practitioners.

What is the relevance for Circular Cities?

With the focus on addressing urban challenges, this programme is extremely relevant in the light of funding circular city initiatives. In the past years, several circular city projects have already been funded by UIA. For example:

  • Antwerp (Belgium): Antwerp Circular South – engaging the community in an online and offline circular economy (learn more external link icon).
  • Kerkrade (Netherlands): Super Circular Estate – First Circular Social Housing Estate for 100% Material and Social Circularity (learn more external link icon).
  • Lappeenranta (Finland): Urban infra revolution – Circular economy materials and novel method development to produce recyclable and functional urban construction products (learn more external link icon).
  • Sevran (France): Earth Cycle – On-site recycling process of extracted soil from the subway work in SEVRAN and its impact on the circular economy (learn more external link icon).

How to apply?

City authorities of more than 50,000 inhabitants, or a grouping of several urban authorities with a total population of more than 50,000, that are located in one of the EU member states are eligible for funding from UIA. The Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) programme has a budget of EUR 372 million for the period of 2014-2020. The UIA communicates on available funding opportunities via open calls for proposals.

The fifth and final call of the UIA within the 2014-2020 framework has already been closed, but the budget of the UIA will in the next multi-annual framework be used similarly. Learn more in the box below.

POST 2020: European Urban Initiative will use the envelope of the UIA

For the period of 2021-2027, the European Commission proposed a new instrument, the European Urban Initiative, which takes into consideration the current envelope of the Urban Innovative Actions (UIA). It should provide coherent support for cities that build on all thematic priorities of the Urban Agenda for the EU external link icon and covers all urban areas. The initiative will include three strands of which the second is based on the Urban Innovative Actions:

  1. Support capacity-building (20% of the budget): This strand will foster a community of practice supporting urban practitioners and local stakeholders of all cities of all sizes throughout Europe.
  2. Support for innovative actions (60% of the budget): This strand will support experimentation in the area of sustainable urban development focusing on innovation in governance, strengthening the integrated and participative approaches, and linking with the policy objectives of cohesion policy, EU policies and the objectives of the Urban Agenda for the EU. This is based on the current Urban Innovative Actions.
  3. Support for knowledge, policy development and communication (20% of the budget): This strand will support the deepening and evidence-based demonstration of urban facts and policies together with capitalizing and disseminating results of experiences expertise “from the ground”.

If you want to learn more on the intervention logic of the new European Urban Initiative, you’ll find an explanatory memo here external link icon.