BIP Exploring the X-Factor of a City

This interactive program extends a warm welcome to PhD students and young scientists who are interested in exploring urban dynamics and engaging with innovative methods and big data integration in a stimulating learning environment. Organized by Ulysseus, the European University Alliance, which offers a unique interactive program opportunity to gain new knowledge and to explore the X-factor that drives city wellbeing. The courses will be organized by Technical University of Košice (Slovakia) in cooperation with, University of Seville (Spain), University of Côte d’Azur (France) and University of Genoa (Italy). The keynote lectures of the program will be held by well recognized scholars (Peter Nijkamp and Carlos Moreno).

Registration dates 15 April 2024 15 May 2024
Course dates 08 July 2024 12 July 2024
Registration is now closed
BIP Exploring the X-Factor of a City

Learning outcomes

Following this course, students will be able to: understand the following concepts: 


The design and study of the city of confluence can be summarised as follows in the form of five confluence methodologies: 

  • Conceptualisation: what is the city. 
  • Architecture + design: what is a good city. 
  • Statistical mapping: how to quantify a city. 
  • Urban modelling: mathematical and econometric images on: how to model the city. 
  • Digital visualisation: geodesign, digital twins and imagineering & metaverses on: how to imagine the city. 
  • Does urban smartness lead to better cities? 
  • If cities are ‘data engines’, who controls and understands the outcomes? 
  • Will AI (including robotics) drastically change the functioning of cities? 
  • Is mobility for all still a valid paradigm or should it be replaced by accessibility for citizens? 
  • Can a city play the key role of a magician in times of climate crises and energy crises, or will it aggravate such crises? 
  • Cities attract new inhabitants without a limit, but when does the ‘urban sky become the limit’? 
  • If cities are the ‘home of man’, how can they then produce affordable and sufficient housing supply? 
  • Is the 15-minute city a viable concept, or does it obscure the need for an actionable strategy for a livable city? 
  • The New Economic Geography advocates the role of agglomeration advantages in city formation, but where are the disadvantages of clustering? 

Course Outline

The program will consist of several learning methods.

Teamwork is expected during the Summer Institute.

The virtual part of the program will be focused on explaining theoretical
background and providing learning materials and factsheets about the Košice city.

In-person part of the program will take place in Košice and will consist of several activities for students and young scientists.

  • Preliminary structure of the program:

Meet the professors – discussion with professors during breakfast – everyday activity.

Lecture – Lectures on specific topics within the scope of the Summer Institute held by international well recognised scholars.

Workshop – Introductory workshop focused on initiation of case studies to be solved at the Bootcamp in cooperation with the Košice city and different organizations.

Bootcamp – Hack the city – practical case studies.

Course content

It has become fashionable in recent studies to seek for the ‘X-factor’ of cities that is responsible for a disproportionally high performance. It should be noted however, that an X-factor is normally not a uni-dimensional achievement index but comprises of two or more driving forces that in synergy create a high achievement level. The main topics of the Summer Institute will be:


The development of urban agglomerations is not shaped by anonymous or invisible forces, but by deliberate decisions and actions of a multiplicity of actors. But how can we determine the critical success factors (shaping key performance indicators – KPIs) that are responsible for an extraordinary performance in terms of socio-economic, technological, environmental or well-being results? How can we trace urban and regional growth champions, and which are their drivers?


The growth potential of cities and regions depends on a positive and dynamic synergy between basic critical success factors (KPIs). To trace and examine the constituents of these KPIs in such a multi-scalar complex system of settlement patterns, we will employ in our study the notion of ‘city love’.


Cities are evolutionary organisms which despite different morphological and functional appearances exist due to a multiplicity of agglomeration advantages. Such advantages are usually interpreted as centripetal geographical forces, but in reality, there are also centrifugal forces which transmit urban advantages and disadvantages to the outer world thus reinforcing the position of cities in a spatial network. In other words, the through-flow of people, goods and ideas is essential for the ‘raison d’être’ of urban agglomerations. Emission and immission – material and immaterial – make up for the power of the urban force field or arena. This is called here the principle of confluence. Confluence is a generic determinant of the genesis and growth of cities. The confluence principle is a dynamic structuring principle, which has both strong internal and external connectivity linkages.


Day 1-3

DAY 1 / JULY 8

8:00 – 9:00 Breakfast. Meet professors

9:00 – 12:00 Lectures

12:00 – 13:30 Lunch

13:30 – 16:30 Lectures

from 18:00 Get together party

DAY 2 / JULY 9

8:00 – 9:00 Breakfast. Meet professors

9:00 – 12:00 Lectures

12:00 – 13:30 Lunch

13:30 – 16:30 Lectures

from 18:00 City Tour

DAY 3 / JULY 10

8:00 – 9:00 Breakfast. Meet professors

9:00 – 12:00 Lectures

12:00 – 13:30 Lunch

13:30 – 16:30 Workshop

from 18:00 Evening Activities

Day 4-5

DAY 4 / JULY 11

8:00 – 16:30 BOOTCAMP: Practical workshop in Kosice City

from 18:00 Evening activity

DAY 5  / JULY 12

8:00 – 9:00 Breakfast. Meet professors

9:00 – 12:00 Lectures

12:00 13:30 Lunch

13:30 – 16:00 Workshop

from 18:00 Farewell Party


  • Participants should be PhD students or young scientists in the fields of study such as Economics, Regional Science, Architecture, Urban studies, Geography. 
  • Participants should be fluent in English, minimum level B2. 
  • Participants should be eager to work in teams and enthusiasts for solving actual city problems. 


Application Process

  • Deadline for accepting applications: May 15, 2024
  • Required documents: CV, thesis proposal.

Academic Team

  • Peter Nijkamp, The Netherlands
  • Carlos Moreno, France
  • Karima Kourtit, The Netherlands
  • Catherine Gall, France
  • Oto Hudec, Slovakia
  • Neil Reid, USA
  • Alessio Tei, Italy
  • Claudio Ferrari, Italy
  • Pedro Palos-Sanchez, Spain
  • Paulo Carvalho Brasilio De Moura, France
  • Umut Turk, Turkey
  • Tomáš Želinský, Slovakia
  • Miriam Šebová, Slovakia
  • Peter Džupka, Slovakia

More information