Knowledge Helix

Breaking down the barriers to successful innovation

EIT Climate-KIC is uniquely placed to overcome the challenges of bringing climate-focused innovation to market. 

We work on an innovation model of knowledge exchange and technology transfer called the knowledge helix. In this model, there are flows of knowledge and experimental learning between government, academia, industry, and civil society, feeding back on strategy and decision-making to create socially accountable policies and practices. This model of innovation and knowledge exchange aims to:

  • connect expertise with resources and know-how
  • help sectors overcome information silos and gaps in knowledge and information
  • help reduce the risk associated with innovation by being the first to invest and support
  • nurture the most innovative ideas and apply scientific insight to commercial contexts

The knowledge helix

Explore our Pathfinder, Demonstrator and Scaler programmes below and find out how innovation investment can help your business or sector to maximise its knowledge potential to become a market leader.  

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Open Innovation Calls

Towards an Open Innovation Framework

Open Innovation has become a major phenomenon in facilitating innovations and accelerating and enhancing the innovation process.

The use of external knowledge, user-driven innovations, networks and even entire ecosystems composed of different actors jointly contributing to new solutions is now a mainstreamed way of facilitating innovation. This shift in innovation practices is underlined by the fact that an increasing share of innovations are presently created in a process in which using, doing and interacting is a fundamental approach. This approach, it appears, is replacing more traditional innovation processes driven by the push of science and technology.

External information and knowledge is widely used among enterprises across the EU. According to the Community Innovation Survey the most common external sources of information for innovative enterprises were suppliers which 80% of enterprises utilized, and customers or clients from the private sector which 72% of enterprises utilized. In comparison, 38% used information from universities.

Open Innovation is not only important to the companies and their networks but equally valuable to the public sector, and cities in particular. Long-term observations show that there has been an increase in interaction and dialogue between the public sector and other stakeholders – including citizens, enterprises and knowledge institutions. Open Innovation represents a continuation of this trend, creating an opportunity for a city to innovate and design services as well as carry out its economic development policy in a new way.

Current Open Innovation CallsOpen Innovation White Paper


Enabling collaboration between research and business

Pathfinder is an ideator programme that helps innovators test, refine and confirm assumptions about their innovation ideas, so that they are suitably developed to be applied and implemented. 

The Pathfinder programme is designed to enable the collaboration of research and business stakeholders, and typically lasts between three to six months, with potential funding up to a maximum of €100,000.


Demonstration and Scaling

Pooling collective knowledge and expertise

Sometimes even proven innovations struggle to reach scale in the marketplace as a result of missing competencies, poor understanding of market, or regulatory barriers.

We pool collective knowledge and expertise to address such specific gaps and overcome the barriers to scaling.

The following programmes are primarily for Climate-KIC partners with a validated business model:

  • Demonstrator is where climate innovators can demonstrate that their innovation works and is a viable proposition on which to create a “business”, whether for profit or not.  It is designed to support multiple stakeholders with funding and services to de-risk the demonstration of innovations. 
  • Scaler brings together providers with scaling services and innovators in need of support to scale their proven innovations.  It provides funding and support for the development and implementation of scaling services that can be applied to proven innovations proposed by our community. 


Transitions Hub

Connecting research and policy with practitioner’s challenges


The Transitions Hub is an in-house lab unit for knowledge development established in Brussels in 2015.

Our mission is to embrace the complexity of applying system innovation to climate change and make it accessible and useful for practitioners and policy-making processes. In doing so, the Transitions Hub enables science-policy-practice interface on system thinking and transitions.

Our innovation value chain process:

  • Knowledge development, it draws on the findings emerging from Climate KIC’s programmes to capitalise on project results. It does so by co-creating new tools, methods and learning materials, piloting these approaches in different settings.
  • Test, experimentation and implementation, the Hub develops its own external cooperation with higher education, research and service sectors to disseminate this knowledge by including challenge-led participatory processes with regional and local stakeholders.
  • Consolidation and policy learning, the Hub contributes to the evolving climate change policy agenda working with European institutions and networks, most notably the Joint Research Centre (JRC). The results of the knowledge development activities and the lesson learnt from the experiments are transformed to produce inputs for policy discussion and academic forums while contributing to EU policy shaping through the systemic perspective required to face Climate Change.

The Hub actively seek to engage partners, building the Hub’s links with key industry sectors, European networks, public authorities and key academic networks to foster cooperation between higher education, research and business, including the service and financial sectors.

We embrace the complexity of applying system innovation to climate change and make it accessible and useful for practitioners and policy-making processes.

The Transitions Hub works with three segments:

  1. Regions and cities by developing outreach activities to enable systemic solutions in territorial innovation process, disseminate best practices and build links between cities and regional policy-makers.
  2. Cross-sectoral and multi stakeholders environments by providing support and technical assistance in order to make use of well-established concepts and existing resources
  3. Education & capacity building, by providing new strategic content for system thinking from experimental learning and co-creation approach to enable knowledge triangle integration

An example of our recent work is the Visual Toolbox for System Innovation, a resource book for practitioners to map, analyse and facilitate sustainability transitions.

Download the Visual Toolboxvisit our website


Using data from space to help address climate change

EIT Climate-KIC is an active member of the Copernicus Academy alliance to support and build on the work of the ambitious Copernicus programme.

The Copernicus programme is the European Union’s Earth Observation Programme and offers information services based on satellite and in situ (non-space) data. EU Space Strategy highlights climate change as one of the biggest challenges Europe is facing and the crucial role Space can play in tackling it. Climate-KIC is now playing an instrumental role in the Copernicus ecosystem to enable climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies by using authoritative information from Copernicus programme.

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