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UAL with British Embassy and Bilbao Town Hall partners

UAL signs first European city partnership with Bilbao

Written by Cat Cooper
Published date 26 June 2019

University of the Arts London (UAL) has today launched its first European city partnership, signing an MOU with Bilbao that will progress areas of common strategic interest in support of the development of the vibrant creative economy of the Basque Country.

Bilbao Town Hall will host UAL in the city to help develop the arts and culture of Bilbao and position it as an international hub for the creative industries. With significant potential for collaborative EU projects, the partnership will support industry and research-led initiatives with Basque education and manufacturing partners, research centres and museums.  Initial industrial fields under consideration include data services, urban design, fashion technology and bio-products.

Nigel Carrington, Vice-Chancellor of University of the Arts London:

It is a privilege to announce UAL's collaborative relationship with Bilbao to put creativity at the centre of the region's development. UAL shares Bilbao's belief in design and creativity as a transformative force in social, cultural and economic development.

Simon Manley CMG, British Ambassador to Spain:

This agreement reinforces the excellent relationship that already exists between the UK and the Basque Country, and it’s a huge step towards sharing experiences, knowledge and ideas for mutual benefit. Boosting entrepreneurship and innovation in the fields of fashion, design and technology is key if we want to generate prosperity and sustainability.

Plans include a physical project/seminar space on the Zorozaurre Island from which UAL will coordinate research initiatives and deliver short courses in art and design. Initially this will be situated in the building of fellow UAL partner institution, KUNSTAHL Design Centre, who will locate to Zorozaurre Island later this year.

Hosted by University of Navarra, London College of Fashion UAL is presenting to local stakeholders ‘Conversations on Fashion and Technology’, sharing the work of two EU funded research projects that connect fashion, technology and entrepreneurialism: DeFINe - a collaborative project co-funded by the European Commission’s COSME programme which aims to support the fusion of cutting-edge technologies and innovation with the European fashion and design industries; and Education for Fashion Tech - a project  developing interdisciplinary curricula within the fields of Smart Textiles, Wearable Technologies and Digital Manufacturing to improve higher education, strengthen the collaboration between apparel and fashion universities in the European Union, and contribute to the prosperity of the European apparel and fashion sector.

UAL V-C Nigel Carrington addressing stakeholders in Bilbao
UAL V-C Nigel Carrington addressing stakeholders in Bilbao. Photograph courtesy of British Embassy

Live projects in the region

Open Design and Manufacturing (OD&M)
A Knowledge Alliance between higher education institutions, makers and manufacturers to boost Open Design and Manufacturing in Europe.
Local partners: Deusto University and Tecnalia Foundation.

T-Factor
T-Factor challenges the waiting time in urban regeneration to demonstrate how culture, creative collaboration and wide engagement can unleash vibrant urban hubs of inclusive urban (re)generation, social innovation and enterprise. The project targets early stage regenerations in a diversity of historic urban areas in London, Bilbao, Amsterdam, Kaunas, Milan and Lisbon, and provides the participating partners with a unique ecosystem of capacity-building for radically new city-making approaches. Local partners: Tecnalia Foundation, Bilbao Ekintza and Open Your Kolektiboa Cultural Association. This project starts in June 2020 for 4 years.


Future collaborative and research projects with higher education and industry partners in Bilbao will generate new knowledge exchange and address global challenges.

A world leader in art and design education, UAL has strategic international partnerships and links with institutions around the world, engaging with higher education institutions, cultural organisations, business and governments, to create new networks to sustain the global creative economy.


Main photo courtesy of the British Embassy shows partners from Bilbao Town Hall, UAL and the British Embassy.

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