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Regardless of its scale or geographic location, today people have the power to innovate and transform the city they live in. Technology allows us to be connected with others in real time, enables access to great information flows and provides with unlimited tools. This scenario creates the need for generating creative ecosystems and smarter cities.

The inevitable question is then: How do we reinvent urban ecosystems to convert them into complex economies that foster innovation? How do we take advantage of this technological scenario to promote creativity in emerging cities?

Smarter and creative cities have become a key market in knowledge-based economies. This is why at the Emerging and Sustainable Cities Initiative (ESCI) we understand that fostering innovation and attracting talent are some of the biggest challenges for this kind of cities. We believe that part of what takes to achieve sustainable development relies in the capacity to transform emerging cities into active communities looking to start creative businesses, evolving naturally toward more complex economies.

The Chilean city of Valdivia aspires to be recognized globally as an incubator of new ideas. It aims to become an innovation center that gathers the necessary conditions to retain the talent of its wide university community.

In order to do so, the municipality in collaboration with ESCI and the technical support of Everis, created the Action Plan for the city of Valdivia.

Valdivia 1

This plan aims to facilitate new productive interactions by stimulating the development of a knowledge-based economy. It recommends several actions, such as:

  1. Technology: Incorporating elements of Smart Cities into Valdivia’s Urban Fabric.

Installing a series of sensors in different points of the city to collect real-time information on urban management indicators.

  1. Entrepreneurial Spaces: Generating spaces for mutual collaboration.

“Idea Sharing”: is a program that seeks to generate spaces in which ideas can be quickly shared. By creating startups and shared spaces, the city can promote one-to-one interactions and invite individuals and organizations to collaborate.


  1. Public Space: Making the city a vibrant laboratory for innovation.

The “Urban Lab” seeks to create a “street laboratory,” a public space where organizations can test their ideas and involve citizens in the creative process.

However, creating new urban infrastructure is not enough! Under CORFO’s (Chile’s Economic Development Agency) Strategic Regional Program called “Innovative, Sustainable and Creative Valdivia,” the city is also creating a road map to develop an ecosystem of innovators based in creative industries.

This is why Valdivia has decided to organize a Hackathon: an event that seeks to stimulate innovation by encouraging entrepreneurs and developers to use new technologies to design solutions to improve quality of life in the city.

This is the third hackathon organized under the ESCI framework, following the success of Mar del Plata’s Hackathon in which more than 200 people from the city participated in person and 800 virtually; and the Xalapa’ Hackathon in which 300 people participated.

The first Urban Innovation Hackathon for Valdivia will take place on September 3,4 and 5 and is  organized jointly by the municipality, Universidad Austral de Chile, Ciudadano Inteligente foundation, and the IDB’s Learning and Knowledge sector.

The event will be preceded by a series of conferences and debates on the main challenges faced by the city–and prioritized in the Action Plan–and the potential of open source knowledge to solve them. There will be three main actors in this Hackathon: community and policy makers will interact identifying critical issues for the city;  communication specialists will help disseminate ideas and achievements; and hackers will provide the technological expertise to quickly visualize the ideas that come up in the event.


After the Hackathon, Valdivia will have a public portal with accessible data about the city, and a series of technological app prototypes available to its citizens. Initiatives like these are important processes in the creation of innovative ecosystems because they create an open, horizontal and collaborative platform that allows different urban actors to participate in the transformation of the cities they live in.

Join this Hackathon in person or virtually and contribute to Valdivia’s transformation! Register for the event in