In Bilbao they have asked themselves how to do that using the existing infrastructures. Hiriko, which in Basque means "urban", is a two-seater city car that "folds" on itself and can be parked as a bicycle. The problems of parking are solved and moreover, thanks to its electric motor, it does not pollute. With a single charge the vehicle can travel more than 120 kilometers.
It is provided with four independent driving wheels, separately controlled, which also allow the car to rotate on its own axis or to move sideways. The central suspension slides the compartment upwards making it possible to park "vertically".
But that’s not all: it is a European project of " social innovation" that combines respect for the environment, creation of jobs and attention to disadvantaged peopele, the result of a collaboration between Boston MIT and Denokinn, the Basque center for innovation.
The prototype, inspired by a sketch of the architect of Guggenheim Museum Frank Gehry, was presented by the President of the European Commission, Manuel Barroso, in January 2012 in Brussels. In the last year twenty specimens were produced and they are now being tested in Brussels, Malmo, Barcelona, San Francisco, Hong Kong and Quito, while negotiations are underway in Paris, London, Amsterdam, Geneva, Boston, Dubai, Abu Dhabi. Hirikowill arrive in Berlin in 2013. Deutsche Bahn, the company that operates the rail network in Germany, has announced a pilot car-sharing with the purchase of the Basque city car.
The headquarters of Denokinn, the Social Innovation Park in Bilbao, will provide the formula to cities that decide to adopt Hiriko and that will replicate Bilbao’s model and create a local site for the assembly of the city car, thus creating new jobs. "Social innovation is our ability to create the future we want. It is made of solidarity and responsibility", said Barroso.
The Basque Country has been a good example of social, economical and industrial transformations in the past 25 years. The crisis in the steel and shipbuilding sectors in the 80s intensely affected the area, but a profound social tradition has created the conditions for a new economy.
Today, the rate of poverty risk in the Basque Country is at 9.5%, the second lowest in Europe after Sweden.
The Social Innovation Park in Bilbao hosts social enterprises established and emerging innovative projects that aim to create a new " Social Silicon Valley".
It enables third sector organizations, charities, foundations and NGOs to meet the productive enterprises and to develop new joint ventures.
Hiriko is an integrated experiment in social innovation as it saw the light thanks to the active participation in the development of new mobility plans, new fuel systems, new methods of production and assembly, new criteria for work inclusion.
It is not to be confused with collective and participated design: the responsibility of the third sector to participate, in a more or less institutionalized way, to the processes of economic development responds to the identity need of a community, that can put into a product as Hiriko the concepts of inclusion, cohesion and emancipation.
" Social Innovation " by Andrea Vecci
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