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Cristian Santibanez - GLM 2012 - Public Relations and Technology Manager / AUTONOMY

Cristian Santibanez - GLM 2012 - Public Relations and Technology Manager / AUTONOMY

Posted on | Alumni Portrait

Cristian Santibanez is a creative leader and urban innovation project manager. He is currently building AUTONOMY, a next-generation global event aimed at bringing together industries and companies that develop products, services and technologies for people and goods to move in new cities, efficiently and surfing on trendy innovations. His work experience includes New Cities Foundation, Ashoka, the OECD and the Chilean Ministry of Transport. A born communicator, he can turn even the most complex, data-driven discourses into simple, actionable and tangible stories.

In Situ met Cristian over coffee in October 2016. This portrait was written by Maria Myridinas and Nina Llado. Cristian Santibanez graduated in 2012 from the Master's programme, Governing the Large Metropolis. During his last semester, he had the opportunity to join the New Cities Foundation's funding team for an internship. This internship quickly turned into a job and Cristian joined the organisation as a full-time employee.

At that time, cities were taking a considerable place in the various discussions. Cristian joined New Cities Foundation at a time when they had secured funding for two pilot projects. The Foundation had to create two contents and organise a network. Its main idea was to bring together mayors, companies (among them GE, Ericsson), their vice-presidents or CEOs, but also researchers and representatives of recognised institutes and research centres as well as urban citizen movements as a way to generate a debate on cities and how to foster innovation so that cities can become better places and drivers of improvement.

Cristian has been involved in the organisation of this event for almost three years. They built a global community of innovators, start-ups, but also partner organisations. They also conducted research on several topics. Cristian was particularly involved in analysing the results of an initiative that consisted of providing backpacks filled with health products to primary health care units in Rio de Janeiro. In addition to this, he was in charge of events for private developers to present new products related to the theme of "new cities". To put it in a nutshell, for three years he was essentially exploring the space of urban innovation.

After three years of intense commitment and hard work at the New Cities Foundation, Cristian wanted to work on other projects. That's when he met Ross Douglas who was looking for people to bring an urban mobility event to life. The idea was to create an urban mobility festival which was called AUTONOMY and took place a fortnight ago from 6 to 9 October 2016 at La Villette. It was one of the biggest urban mobility festivals in the world so far. Meanwhile, Cristian has developed a consulting business on urban innovation, creating his own company which is currently developing a project in Burma and whose first client is the internationally renowned JAICA.

As for the future, it is still uncertain, but in his plans AUTONOMY will take a considerable place, as it is a project that will continue to build and grow in the years to come.

Looking back on his years as a student at Sciences Po's Urban School, Cristian highlights the school's entrepreneurial vision. It was created by a team of researchers who were passionate about urban change and wanted to study the changes that take place in cities as well as in the political structures of the city, impacting on the lives of many city dwellers.

His advice to the students of the Urban School

If you want to have an impact, focus on how cities are changing. Then you can create and disseminate ideas on different topics. The opportunities are in front of you, but you have to be able to find them and seize them. Identify quickly what motivates you, because in fact there is enough room to study them!


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