The Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning

Publication German Small Town Academy – Pilot Phase

Empowerment of Small Towns through collaboration, consulting and networking

Cover: German Small Town Academy – Pilot Phase

Editor: BBSR Series: Individual publication Published: March 2021 ISBN: 978-3-87994-522-1 URN: urn:nbn:de:101:1-2021041613564562615294


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The mayority of cities and towns in Europe are small towns. There are more than 2,100 small towns in Germany, representing more than 46 percent of all cities and towns. These are home to more than 24 million people. One in three companies that are ‘hidden champions’ and market leaders in innovation products or services comes from a small town. As anchor points of public welfare and services and play a fundamental role in the polycentric urban system. They contribute significantly to the German Federal Government’s goal of achieving equal living conditions in all parts of Germany. But at the same time, small towns face demographic, economic and social challenges and often need support in their development. Therefore the the idea of the pilotphase of the “Small Town Academy” was created. It focuses on a changed strategic approach: true to the principle “urban development by, with and for small towns”, because it is mainly the local people who make their small towns what they are, often with substantial self-motivation. Thus self-selected topics by model projects, nationwide cooperation and innovative methods are a basic approaches.

The publication gives an inside into the situation of small towns in Germany and the idea of the pilot phase of the “Small Town Academy”, including its aims and approaches.

Project management
Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR)
Division RS 7 "Baukultur and Urban Architectural Conservation"
Lars Porsche ( )

Management in the Federal Ministry
Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community (BMI)
Division SW I 5 – Green Spaces and Baukultur in Urban Development
Prof. Dr. Hagen Eyink, Dr.-Ing. Lara Steup

Research contractor
Secretariat of the Pilot Phase Small Town Academy
Urbanizers Büro für städtische Konzepte, Berlin
Julia Felker, Robert Hummel, Marie Neumüllers


  • Greeting
  • Foreword
  • Small Towns
  • The Diversity of Small Towns in Germany
  • The Idea of the Small Town Academy
  • Urban development by, with and for small towns!
  • The Small Town Academy During the Pilot Phase
  • Approach
  • Programme
  • Practice Insights
  • Learning from Model Projects
  • A practical example: Attractive Living in a Small Town – Change through Digitalization and Mobility
  • Advisory Board for the Small Town Academy: Independence and Self-Determination
  • Exploratory workshop “Small Towns and Digital Transformation”
  • Glossary and Publication Notes
  • Footnotes

Related projects

Pilotphase Kleinstadtakademie (2019-2022)

Status: Ongoing Started: Since December 2019

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