The ENHANCE Summit in Gdańsk: The representation of European unity within the Alliance

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On 4, 5 and 6 October, more than 120 administrative staff, students, as well as urban stakeholders and experts from the ten ENHANCE member universities, came to Gdańsk University of Technology. During these intensive days, they took part in diverse activities, from operational activities of the Alliance to panels and discussions on the topic of climate-neutral cities. More than just an opportunity for these people to get together, the ENHANCE Summit embodied the community spirit of the Alliance, with the rectors and presidents planting a tree to symbolise the longevity of the work they accomplished and will keep doing in the future.


Both a symbol and the building of a strong community


During the Summit, Gdańsk Tech hosted a Board of Directors meeting, where the rectors and presidents discussed both the achievement of the current project and the perspective of the future. They validated the ENHANCE Charter of Rules and Procedures, a key document that allows the universities to consolidate their cooperation within the Alliance.


“This summit demonstrated in a very impressive manner how strongly our universities and their members are united in diversity”, Prof. Geraldine Rauch commented. As the President of Technische Universität Berlin and the Chair of the ENHANCE Board of Directors, Prof. Rauch emphasised the importance of this inspiring experience. The ENHANCE Secretary General, Naveed Syed, explained during his closing remarks how the ENHANCE universities have built a deep trusting relationship, a key factor for success: “In a world of unpredictability, trust really is an imperative. It forms the basis for effective collaboration as, in time of crisis, ultimately the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”


“The Summit was a celebration of the European identity that we live together in our alliance.” (Prof. Geraldine Rauch, TU Berlin’s president)


The rectors and presidents of ENHANCE universities planting a tree together really symbolised the deep root of an Alliance in which every person has a role to play and something to benefit from. As Prof. Rauch said, all the member universities can gain from a “strengthened and sustainable partnership of trust in the future”.

ENHANCE members got together around the topic of climate-neutral cities


The Summit in itself was focused on a very important societal topic: climate-neutral cities. To present this ENHANCE priority topic to the students, PhDs, and administrative staff who travelled to Gdańsk, different sessions and panels were organised.


Two keynote speeches took place on Thursday morning with Prof. Frank Moulaert from KU Leuven and his “The Smart City: but where are the citizens?” presentation and then Rohit Sen, Head Sustainable Energy at ICLEI World Secretariat with his “100% Renewable Energy – a Key Milestone on the Road to Climate Neutrality” speech. These interventions were followed by a panel discussion about co-creating a sustainable, climate-adaptable future, which hosted  the two keynote speakers alongside Prof. Anne Borg, NTNU’s Rector and member of the ENHANCE Board of Directors, and Prof. Piotr Lorens, Gdańsk City Architect.


The day continued with parallel sessions on Urban Innovation Living Labs, Participatory Planning and Design, the Future Synthesiser, and the New European Bauhaus Impact Model, led respectively by Dr. Agnieszka Wendland assistant professor at WUT, Lina Naoroz Bråten PhD candidate at NTNU, Dr. Robin Chang Chair Planning Theory and Urban Development at RWTH Aachen, and Dr. Wang Yu Senior Researcher at NTNU. They all presented the results of their session on Friday morning.


“Their sharp insights and strong commitment to developing our cities towards a climate-neutral, resilient, inclusive, just, and sustainable future were truly inspiring,” Dr. Wang Yu commented. Anna Modrzejewska, head of the International Relations Office at Gdańsk University of Technology, was also very pleased to see such important topics being discussed in her university and attracting that many people. “The high level of interest in this event and its success is evidence to me that ENHANCE is addressing topics that are very significant and close to the hearts of our community”, she noted.


“It shows that we are moving in the right direction to build a better world.” (Anna Modrzejewska, head of the International Relations Office at Gdańsk University of Technology)


The Summit also hosted the presentation of the projects of the ENHANCE Incubator Challenge winners, who received a certificate of completion from Prof. Rauch. The exhibition of the work done by students of the ENHANCE Interdisciplinary Design class on the subject of “Future European cities in 2030 perspective” also took place during the Summit and was on display in the central meeting space.

The conclusion of a phase to better enter the next one

A month before the end of the current European project funding phase and the beginning of the next one, the ENHANCE Summit gave the chance to celebrate all the achievements of the Alliance during the past three years, to officially welcome the three new partners, and to launch the work of the next few years.


Naveed Syed presented the main results of ENHANCE during his closing remarks, giving some numbers bearing great hopes for the future like the 3700 students, researchers, and members of staff involved in ENHANCE activities and programmes, the 1000 members of the ENHANCE community who benefited from physical and virtual mobility offer, the 100 staff members who participated in the staff weeks, and the 100 students who took advantage of the European Education Pathways.


ETH Zurich, TU Delft, and Gdańsk Tech received a warm welcome as new partners of the ENHANCE Alliance, which every university is looking forward to working with. They brought fresh perspectives and new opportunities, as Philipp Bieri, ENHANCE Core Officer at ETH Zurich, formulated. “Although such an intense and large-scale transnational collaboration will be new for us, we are ready for the challenges ahead, together with our partners,” he said. With ENHANCE+, the members of the Alliance will build on the achievements and bring innovative activities and programmes the community will benefit from. 


The Summit was a real success in the activities taking place, the results achieved, and the trust it helped establish between members of the partner universities. As Naveed Syed quoted, for its future, the ENHANCE Alliance will keep in mind the following words spoken once by Jörgen Sjöberg: “Let’s keep our heads cool, our hearts warm, and our hands clean”.


With these inspiring words, the ENHANCE Alliance thanks all the students and staff who participated in the Summit and the team who worked hard to organise such an event. We are all looking forward to the next meeting of our community.