Project: Driving industrial symbiosis in Europe’s regions

EUR-IS is accelerating the take-up of industrial symbiosis methodologies in the UK’s West Midlands, Central Hungary, and Poland’s Lower Silesia, as project leaders Adrian Murphy and Peter Levett explain. 

A Climate-KIC innovation project teaming International Synergies (UK) with Wroclaw Research Centre EIT (Poland) and IKFA (Hungary) is creating regional innovation platforms that apply new research, processes and technologies to practical problems in order to cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

Launched in July 2012, EUR-IS nurtures industrial symbiosis initiatives in diverse European economies and connects them to research expertise from Climate-KIC’s Dutch co-location centre, TU Delft.

Industrial symbiosis brings sectors together via an innovation network to achieve the best use of resources. It creates new business opportunities, reduces emissions, and applies low carbon innovation directly.

Demand-led innovation

‘The key to EUR-IS,’ says project lead Adrian Murphy (below, second left, with team) of International Synergies, ‘is in engaging closely with industry. It’s about listening, then asking: how can we fast-track innovation to make a difference?’

In all three participating regions, EUR-IS revealed a strong appetite for involvement. Says project manager Peter Levett (below, first right): ‘We found a lot of enthusiasm out there, and the project is already delivering significant metrics.’

In Lower Silesia, EUR-IS established a completely new industrial symbiosis network. In Hungary, it enabled an existing network to ramp up its innovation agenda. In the Midlands, UK, a new delivery approach targeting large companies and their supply chains has been very successful.

TU Delft’s role is to support the project through academic knowledge and focused research. EUR-IS helps scholars develop ideas that confront barriers to business take-up of low carbon opportunities.

Having tapped into a big demand in Europe’s regions, EUR-IS has its sights set on Emilia-Romagna in Italy. ‘We’re going back to Climate-KIC with an extended programme of proactive industrial symbiosis,’ says Adrian Murphy. ‘And that includes a growing education element based on theJourney, SPARK!, and Pioneers into Practice.’

The team is also talking to China, which is looking to adopt industrial symbiosis in 100 cities. ‘It shows the level of demand globally,’ says Adrian, ‘as countries and regions begin to adopt industrial symbiosis within their policy frameworks.’

Wherever the call to action, EUR-IS engages with business by confronting practical problems. ‘This goes beyond theories to embrace real-life issues,’ says Peter Levett. ‘We call it demand-led innovation.’