What is the Vale do Pinhão Initiative?
In Brazil, bureaucracy can create distance between administrations and communities, often hindering innovation. The country also faces challenges of gender inequality and income distribution. How can the City of Curitiba increase quality of life for its citizens in the face of an ever-changing and increasingly urbanizing world? How can city leaders include a social dimension in innovation processes and ensure that citizens benefit from a more humane, prosperous, and equitable city?
Over the past three years, the City of Curitiba has made innovation the cornerstone of city-wide social transformation. As the administration aims to improve quality of employment and access to economic opportunity for its citizens, it has committed to problem-solving and implementing resource- and cost-efficient solutions that are high-impact and inclusive of all city residents. The Vale do Pinhão initiative perfectly illustrates this commitment to both innovation and urban wellbeing, strengthening connections and collaboration between citizens and the government, and reinventing the way that residents see their role in the city.
The Vale do Pinhão initiative is an ecosystem of innovative programs that promote urban requalification and cultivate sustainable economic growth. These programs span several aspects of urban life, such as entrepreneurship, urban mobility, health, education, and the environment. Partnership is paramount to the success of Vale do Pinhão; the initiative’s ecosystem is composed of a myriad of actors who aim to develop and promote innovation, including universities, technology companies, startups, and research and development centers. By incorporating partners of different sectors and across subsections of Curitiba, Vale do Pinhão has the ability to affect citizens' lives at various entry points and embeds innovative practices into the economic fabric of the City.
There are several notable programs within the Vale do Pinhão initiative, including programs in professional mentoring, education, and promotion of local entrepreneurship. Successful programs include:
- “Woman Entrepreneurship,” a training program that promotes inclusive entrepreneurship and celebrates women who are closing the gender gap in their sector;
- Worktiba, the first public coworking space of Brazil, resourced with technology equipment that promotes social entrepreneurship and allows budding entrepreneurs to develop solutions for social, cultural, and environmental issues;
- “Lighthouses of Knowledge and Innovation,” a program providing free educational centers with access to libraries and internet for vulnerable communities across the city, allowing them to learn and exchange ideas.
- The Official Curitiba City Hall App, which connects public services to a technological platform in order to increase and improve access to those services. Through the app, residents are able to locate shelters and services, track buses in real-time and more;
- and a 2 million USD fund administered by the City to invest in entrepreneurship and innovation.
Such programs have positioned Curitiba to have the third highest job creation level in Brazil, creating over 18,000 new jobs in 2019. Over the past four years, Vale do Pinhão has also established partnerships with more than 100 technology companies and has created 72 training courses attended by over 3,000 entrepreneurs. It encapsulates a dynamic and collaborative ecosystem that provides the necessary economic and social resources for its citizens and reduces the bureaucratization of those services.
With the same spirit of innovation that characterizes the City, Curitiba has adapted Vale do Pinhão programs to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Vale do Pinhão “Fab Lab” and “Lighthouses for Knowledge and Innovation” programs have created over 10,000 units of personal protective equipment such as face shields thanks to 3D printers. The City has also developed an online marketplace for companies lacking access to technology to help them offer their services and maintain economic movement while respecting social distancing measures. As it continues to develop its Vale do Pinhão initiative, the City aims to become more accessible to residents who lack technology and internet access, and bolster existing programs to better combat climate change.