Francesca Bria

Data Democracy and the Green Transition

“This systemic change needs its own aesthetics.”

Innovation economist and digital policy expert Francesca Bria is working at the intersection of technology, geopolitics, economics, and society to make digital innovation more socially responsible. Bria is the President of the Italian National Innovation Fund. She is honorary professor in the Institute  for Innovation and Public Purpose at UCL in London and a Senior Adviser to the United Nation (UN-Habitat) on digital cities and digital rights. Bria is leading the DECODE project on data sovereignty in Europe, and is a member of the European Commission high level expert group Economic and Societal Impact of Research and Innovation (ESIR). She is the former Chief Digital Technology and Innovation Officer for the City of Barcelona in Spain. As Senior Programme Lead at Nesta, the UK Innovation Agency, she has led the European Union’s D-CENT project, the biggest European project on digital democracy platforms and digital currencies. She also led the DSI4EU project, advising the EU on digital social innovation policies and purpose-driven innovation. She has taught in several universities in the UK and Italy and she has advised public and private organizations as well as governments on technology and innovation policy and its socio-economic and environmental impact.

Bria has been listed in Forbes magazine’s Top 50 Women in Tech, and Apolitical’s “World’s top 20 most influential people in digital government.” She has also been featured in the Italian magazine Repubblica D as one of the “100 Women Changing the World.”

As a mentor, Bria is interested in working with people who seek to articulate a strategic vision of how digital technologies can facilitate the transition from today’s digital economy of surveillance capitalism and data extractivism—whereby a handful of US- and China-based corporations battle for global digital supremacy—to an alternative political and economic project based on data democracy, digital sovereignty, and citizen participation. The possible focus of the application can be on rethinking smart cities to meet citizens’ needs, using technology and data at the service of people and the green transition. “This will kickstart a creative and interdisciplinary movement that develops political, aesthetic, as well as functional standards—in sync with state-of-the-art technology, environment, and climate,” she says.

“I am looking for a candidate with a strong interest in economics and geopolitics of technology, and those with a good grasp of current technological developments, especially big data, AI, industrial automation, decentralized trust protocols, distributed ledgers, and so on,” she explains. “This systemic change needs its own aesthetics, blending design, arts, and sustainability. It’s at the intersection of these worlds that many of the emerging technopolitical issues, from global trade to economic national development to the future of welfare, are to be tackled.”

Watch the video statement to find out more about what Bria is looking for in applications: