System innovation is needed to help regions shift to a low-carbon economy

We must develop solutions that unlock the potential of the industrial regions in their capacity to design and implement their low-carbon transition innovatively, inclusively and sustainably, according to EIT Climate-KIC professionals Ada Marmion, Re-Industrialise Flagship Manager, Cristian Matti, Transitions Hub Lead and Julia Panny, Regional Innovation Scheme Manager.

Innovation is essential for finding solutions to societal challenges like global warming or unsustainable energy use. To enable transition processes that involve multiple sectors, actors and geographies, we need to implement a system innovation approach. Innovation platforms like the knowledge triangle integration (KTI) are mechanisms that can be used to mobilise resources and foster emerging communities of practice.

EIT Climate-KIC (Knowledge and Innovation Community) is the European Union’s largest public-private partnership that addresses climate change through innovation. This community consists of over 300 leading partners from business, academia, the public sector and NGOs and its purpose is to help create a prosperous, inclusive, climate resilient society founded on a circular, zero-carbon economy. With a focus on levers of systemic change, EIT Climate-KIC evaluates where innovation is most needed to accelerate deep decarbonisation – the elimination of fossil fuels and negative carbon – and effective adaptation. EIT Climate-KIC is predominantly grant funded by the European Institute for Innovation and Technology, an EU body, and it acts as a platform across boundaries and sectors. It also fosters innovation as a catalyst for transformation. Since its creation, EIT Climate-KIC’s structure has been characterised by a regional, place-based approach to innovation in addition to its academic and corporate components. Cities and regions occupy a central component of the organisation, emphasising the role of place in addressing the complex challenges of climate change, such as economic attractiveness and competitiveness, social justice, air quality and pollution.

EIT Climate-KIC has implemented two programmes to develop new practices while exploring fresh market opportunities. The Re-Industrialise Programme, launched in 2018, aims to accelerate the transition of greenhouse gas reliant industrial regions to low-carbon innovation hotspots, while also ensuring inclusive and prosperous environmental progress. The objective of the programme is to develop place-based solutions that unlock the potential of the industrial regions in their capacity to design and implement their low-carbon transition innovatively, inclusively and sustainably. The programme focuses on systemic and sustainable medium- to long-term impacts by tackling the complexity of the transition processes in an innovative way.

The programme’s approach is designed to break silos, convene local actors from different sectors, learn from experimentation and pitfalls, embrace tough questions and customise generic tools to de-risk bold ideas. As an innovation platform, EIT Climate-KIC engages multiple stakeholders in the process of co-designing re-industrialisation solutions, stimulating peer-to-peer learning within and between regions and experimenting with solutions that address bottlenecks in the system.

In its initial stage, Re-Industrialise addresses the transition challenges of five European regions with in-depth activities in North RhineWestphalia and Silesia – two of Europe’s most prominent coal-based economies. The programme’s portfolio, which includes early stage innovation projects, touches upon a variety of sectors, such as coal mining, steel production and technologies like hydrogen. It also field tests smart specialisation and diversification tools, pilots innovative platforms to engage local communities in the transition process and builds practical methods to de-risk low-carbon investments. The diversity of this portfolio, and its several iterations, can trigger rapid results and de-risk replication. By sharing the findings and lessons learned, EIT Climate-KIC helps regional actors to move forward from experimentation to scale-up of their low-carbon pathways.

The Urban Challenge Programme works with cities and regional actors to catalyse systemic innovation by helping cities and municipalities to define the challenges they face and by enabling entrepreneurs and innovators to respond to these challenges. Bulgaria’s capital city, Sofia, was one of the first central/eastern European cities to test and implement this programme in 2017 and 2018. Countries in this region are particularly affected by the issue given their reliance on coal and wood for domestic heating as well as the heavy use of private cars due to ineffective public transport solutions. The focus of the programme in Sofia was on motivating behavioural change, so that people use their cars less frequently, in addition to encouraging people to shift from one energy source to another. The city was also seeking ideas to explore retrofit solutions for buildings and cars that would help capture some of the pollutants before they are released into the atmosphere. Including Sofia in the Urban Challenge Programme not only provided an opportunity to work closely with the municipality throughout the process but also helped raise public awareness on the work being carried out by Bulgaria’s capital towards resolving its air pollution issues.

These aforementioned programmes seek to catalyse systemic innovation; they tackle complex societal challenges to deliver effective and efficient solutions with a long-term perspective. The findings and results of the programmes demonstrate that investments in low-carbon businesses and technologies will not even scratch the surface of the issue if they are executed in isolation, without considering the local economic, social, cultural and environmental realities. We need bold ideas, long-term commitment, risky investments and a great deal of hard work to make change happen.

This article originally appeared in “THE REGIONAL DIMENSION OF CLIMATE CHANGE: MAKING THE CASE FOR A JUST AND INNOVATIVE TRANSITION” by Friends of Europe.

 
Location
Related Goal
Goal 9: Reboot regional economies
Articles you may be interested in
In Detail
How should Europe approach AI in the strategic areas of climate, health, man...

A new report – Digital Transformation of European Industry: A Policy Perspective – addresses the important topic of how Europe should deal with Artificial...

How should Europe approach AI in the strategic areas of climate, health, manufacturing and mobility?
In The News
World’s biggest green business ideas competition now fully digital, free and...

The three-day Grand Global Final of the EIT Climate-KIC supported...

World’s biggest green business ideas competition now fully digital, free and accessible to all
In Detail
IIPP report for EIT Climate-KIC’s Resilient Regions Deep Demonstration pro...

EIT Climate-KIC partner the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP), has published the “Resilient Regions Reconnaissance Report,” part of an eight-part series...

IIPP report for EIT Climate-KIC’s Resilient Regions Deep Demonstration proposes new economic paradigms to boost resilience
In The News
Three cities building back better: Madrid, Milan and Amsterdam

EIT Climate-KIC will host a session at the 18th...

Three cities building back better: Madrid, Milan and Amsterdam
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC to work with Google on Impact Challenge

EIT Climate-KIC is delighted to announce that it will...

EIT Climate-KIC to work with Google on Impact Challenge
In Detail
EIT Climate-KIC’s case studies on innovative land use set the stage fo...

EIT Climate-KIC launches ‘Innovations in land use,’ a collection of case studies demonstrating the organisation’s innovation-led, systemic approach that’s poised to help Europe deliver...

EIT Climate-KIC’s case studies on innovative land use set the stage for transforming whole systems
In The News
What role can finance play in the green recovery? EIT Climate-KIC and UNEP Fin...

EIT Climate-KIC, in partnership with the UNEP Finance Initiative,...

What role can finance play in the green recovery? EIT Climate-KIC and UNEP Finance Initiative ask leading thinkers to weigh in
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC supports European green recovery with €4 million for start-u...

EIT Climate-KIC is investing €4 million in nine climate...

EIT Climate-KIC supports European green recovery with €4 million for start-ups affected by COVID-19
Opinion
How public servants can engage unlikely allies to deliver climate policies
Juan Azcarate Deputy director of Energy and Climate Change, Madrid City Council
How public servants can engage unlikely allies to deliver climate policies
In The News
The City Finance Lab calls on urban leaders to help build back better

Organised by sustainability expert South Pole, the competition for...

The City Finance Lab calls on urban leaders to help build back better
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC supported cities – Leuven, Milan, Valencia and Vienna no...

Twelve cities are in the final stage of the...

EIT Climate-KIC supported cities – Leuven, Milan, Valencia and Vienna nominated as European Capital of Innovation 2020
Opinion
Going beyond investments in single-point solutions, an Opinion by Kirsten Dunlop
Kirsten Dunlop CEO, EIT Climate-KIC
Going beyond investments in single-point solutions, an Opinion by Kirsten Dunlop
In The News
The climate emergency demands bold policy innovations – can cities d...

While the challenges of climate change and a global...

The climate emergency demands bold policy innovations – can cities deliver? 
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC joins circular economy side event at UN High Level Political F...

“Bold leaders are needed to drive a collaborative approach...

EIT Climate-KIC joins circular economy side event at UN High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC and Silesian Metropolis join forces to transform Europe’s la...

EIT Climate-KIC and the Metropolitan Association of Upper Silesia...

EIT Climate-KIC and Silesian Metropolis join forces to transform Europe’s largest coal region in the face of the climate crisis
In The News
Anders Wijkman represents EIT Climate-KIC at the International Society for the...

Speaking online at the inaugural Conference of IS4CE—the International...

Anders Wijkman represents EIT Climate-KIC at the International Society for the Circular Economy Conference
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC receives €8.4 million for innovation projects that stimulate...

Eleven climate innovation projects across Europe tackling COVID-19 related...

EIT Climate-KIC receives €8.4 million for innovation projects that stimulate job creation and support a post COVID-19 green recovery
In The News
CEO Kirsten Dunlop represents EIT Climate-KIC at Climate Policy Forum

On 25 June, EIT Climate-KIC attended the Climate Policy...

CEO Kirsten Dunlop represents EIT Climate-KIC at Climate Policy Forum
In Detail
A net zero future offers significant opportunities for the European economy,...

EIT Climate-KIC’s views on the EU 2030 Climate Target Plan.  The recent announcements from the European Commission on the EU Recovery Plan from the...

A net zero future offers significant opportunities for the European economy, society and citizens
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC supported LOOP-Ports project wins prestigious sustainability a...

The LOOP-Ports project, led by the Fundación Valenciaport  and funded by EIT Climate-KIC,...

EIT Climate-KIC supported LOOP-Ports project wins prestigious sustainability award
In The News
EIT Climate KIC joins roundtable as Republic of Korea moves Green Deal forward

On 24 June, EIT Climate-KIC attended the 7th Green...

EIT Climate KIC joins roundtable as Republic of Korea moves Green Deal forward
In our community
Water scarcity in Southern Europe: Manufacturing expert insights
Water scarcity in Southern Europe: Manufacturing expert insights
Opinion
A scientist’s opinion: Interview with Cliona Howie Del Rio about systems thinking
A scientist’s opinion: Interview with Cliona Howie Del Rio about systems thinking
In Detail
Citizen activation is essential for Europe to meet its climate ambition

EIT Climate-KIC provides ideas for action under the European Climate Pact. The debate on how to achieve ambitious climate targets is often dominated by...

Citizen activation is essential for Europe to meet its climate ambition
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC shines at the GLF Bonn Digital Conference, the year’s la...

EIT Climate-KIC’s Director of Sustainable Land Use and member...

EIT Climate-KIC shines at the GLF Bonn Digital Conference, the year’s largest global digital conference on the environment
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC supported Climeworks raises over €67 million to expand its c...

Climeworks, the world leader in capturing CO2 from air,...

EIT Climate-KIC supported Climeworks raises over €67 million to expand its carbon dioxide removal capacities
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC supported Zeleros raises €7 million for the development of h...

EIT Climate-KIC supported Zeleros Hyperloop has completed a financing...

EIT Climate-KIC supported Zeleros raises €7 million for the development of hyperloop in Europe
In our community
A just transformation for Rugeley, as the power station comes down
A just transformation for Rugeley, as the power station comes down
In Detail
Challenging paradigms as the gateway to innovation: New IIPP report for EIT ...

EIT Climate-KIC partner the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP), which works on changing how public value is imagined, practiced and evaluated...

Challenging paradigms as the gateway to innovation: New IIPP report for EIT Climate-KIC’s Landscapes as Carbon Sinks Deep Demonstration
In our community
Water scarcity in Southern Europe: Raw materials expert insights
Water scarcity in Southern Europe: Raw materials expert insights