Deep Demonstrations of Systems Transitions

What are Deep Demonstrations?

Climate emergency is here and demand is growing for climate action that matches the scale and urgency of the challenge. Innovation-as-usual, which is typically siloed and focused on ‘supplying’ the market with technology-led solutions – is not delivering a 1.5 degree world. Innovation is essential, but not as we have been doing it. We need innovation to catalyse systemic change. In 2019, EIT Climate-KIC launched eight ‘Deep Demonstrations’ as a test bed environment for the ‘1.5-consistent systems transitions’ called for by the IPCC, European policymakers and our own strategy and Theory of Change. 

“Deep demonstrations are intended as inspirational examples of what is possible at the level of whole systems – including cities, sectors, countries and value chains – when innovation is orchestrated, collaborative and mission-led. They represent the ‘growth edge’ of our strategy for tackling climate change through innovation.”

Kirsten Dunlop, CEO of EIT Climate-KIC

Deep demonstrations tackle multiple societal challenges in an integrated, holistic way. For example, Healthy, Clean Cities looks at waste, mobility, heat, power, buildings, infrastructure, fuel poverty, skills, jobs, well-being, etc., as a set of interrelated city challenges. Our food-focused demonstration works at the level of a global value chain. It looks at hunger, obesity, health, habits, perceptions, production, distribution and ecological degradation as connected challenges.

Following our systems innovation methodology, our deep demonstrations have four iterative and non-linear components:

    1. INTENT: We work with Europe’s most ambitious ‘challenge owners’ – including city mayors, regional leaders, government ministers, citizen leaders and CEOs of major companies – to secure intent for an ambitious systemic approach to their place-based or value-chain challenges (e.g. in Slovenia, the intent is to become the world’s first fully circular national economy).
    2. FRAME: ‘Designers’ help us: map the systems that need to change; understand leverage points for systemic change; and create a hypothetical portfolio of connected intervention ‘positions’. Our portfolio positions may include social innovation as well as innovation in finance, technology, policy, governance, citizen engagement, education, and other relevant levers of change.
    3. PORTFOLIO: We match this mapped-out demand for innovation with supply. To activate a live and deliberate portfolio of simultaneous, interacting projects we search for innovation solutions, and we launch Calls for new and unexpected ideas, shaped by what we learn on the ground.
    4. LEARNING: Sense-making and learning are a critical component of our deep demonstrations. We build in deliberate learning about the combined effects of interventions on whole systems, to tease out multi-dimensional solutions. ln this way we aim to create an evidence base for decision-making, both within the demonstrations themselves and for wider policymaking, with the aim of driving rapid and large-scale change.

Deep demonstrations are our way of accelerating learning about how to change the world in the context of urgency, diversity and radical uncertainty.

We invite partners and funders to work with us to expand and progress this initiative.


Deep Demonstrations

Healthy, Clean Cities

Fifteen cities across Europe are working with us to accelerate their transitions towards carbon neutrality and climate resilience – using joined-up, systems innovation as a key tool.

Healthy, Clean Cities Read More

We’re designing a demonstration to address short-term thinking (in finance and other areas of society) that prevents the 1.5 °C transition we need.

Long-termism Read More
Resilient Regions

We work with regions particularly exposed to climate impacts due to the make-up of their landscapes, economies and societies.

Resilient Regions Read More
Landscapes as Carbon Sinks

We apply systems thinking to help turn a number of specific landscapes across Europe from carbon sources to carbon sinks.

Landscapes as Carbon Sinks Read More
Climate-friendly Food Systems and Diets

Work with us to catalyse a shift towards a healthy food system that can feed future generations within planetary boundaries.

Climate-friendly Food Systems and Diets Read More
Just Transformations

We’re working for democratic and inclusive transitions in regions still economically dependent on fossil fuels and polluting industries.

Just Transformations Read More
Circular, Regenerative Economies

The government of Slovenia has articulated the ambitious and inspiring aim to become the world’s first fully circular national economy.

Circular, Regenerative Economies Read More
Net-Zero-Emissions, Resilient Maritime Hubs

We are working with ambitious ports and shipping industry leaders to create a circular, inclusive, net-zero-emissions maritime sector.

Net-Zero-Emissions, Resilient Maritime Hubs Read More