Climate Innovation Insights, Series 2

Accelerating the Transition to Sustainable Production Systems


Accelerating the Transition to Sustainable Production Systems

Stimulating the Growth of Climate Innovation Clusters

Key messages:

  • European Union policies and businesses have pushed the circular economy forward, but more work is required to disseminate and increase the scale of circular innovations. 
  • Reconfiguring the economy is complex and demands cross-sector collaboration at every stage; from business model design to supply chains, infrastructure, policy and finance. 
  • The circular economy represents an opportunity for comparative advantage for organisations establishing cross-sector collaborations at multiple levels of the economy. 

Scaling Up Cross-sector Collaboration for a Circular Economy

Geraldine Brennan, CEEDR, Middlesex University Business School and Sira Saccani, Director, Sustainable Production Systems, Climate-KIC


Sustaining Investment in Climate Innovation

Key messages:

  • Conscious food networks are examples of circular economy systems and represent an opportunity to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with food production.
  • Using cargo-bikes to deliver goods (including local food) within cities can significantly reduce emissions and pollution while contributing to building strong, integrated communities. 
  • Delivering positive social impact or co-benefits should be acknowledged as a valuable metric to include when measuring the success of circular production and consumption model

Cargo-bikes, Conviviality and Conscious Food

Logan Strenchock, Central European University and Foundation for Small Enterprise Economic Development, Hungary


Ingredients for Climate Innovation Clusters: The UK Case

Key messages:

  • Qarnot computing has developed a high-performance computing (HPC) service based on a decentralised cloud-based computing heater, lowering the carbon footprint of computations by up to 75 per cent. 
  • Qarnot has a two-sided business model, offering free heat and an intelligent solution for all kinds of buildings, and a competitive HPC service for companies. 
  • Disruptive cross-sector innovations do not always fit within existing regulatory frameworks, so it is important to develop the case for exemptions early in the process.

The Internet of Things and the Circular  Economy: Rethinking the Design of  Computers and Heaters

Nicolas Sainthérant, Eloïse Emptoz, Hélène Legay, Yanik Ngoko and Paul Benoit, Qarnot computing


Broadening the innovation model: Lessons from Climate-KIC’s Regional Innovation Implementation Community

Key messages:

  • Enabling policies and an integrated approach to material recovery can be beneficial for companies embracing circular economy principles. 
  • Emilia-Romagna is the first Italian region to promote circular economy principles by law.
  • This Insight compares two Emilia-Romagna businesses, which are similar in terms of their commitment to circular economy innovation but differ in scope and structure. 

Exploring Circular Economy Business Models in Emilia-Romagna, Italy

Silvia Gaiani, Camilla Chieco, Nicola Di Virgilio and Federica Rossi, Institute of Biometeorology, Italian Research Council


Key messages:

  • Application of the European Union waste hierarchy and circular economy principles to electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) has significant potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 
  • As knowledge producers who use information and communication technology extensively, universities can drive low-carbon policies by developing sustainability best practices.
  • The University of Bologna’s Terracini in Transizione (sustainability living lab), in collaboration with Nucleo Tecnico Rifiuti (the university’s Waste Technical Unit), has developed a reuse and recovery centre for disused EEE.

A Bottom-up Approach to Reducing Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment

Alessandra Bonoli, Eleonora Foschi and Daria Prandstraller, University of Bologna, Italy


Assessing Business Performance in Climate Innovation Clusters

Key messages:

  • Commercial aquaponics represents a new agriculture option for Europe’s cities and has a large market potential.
  • Capturing the potential of commercial aquaponics in the urban environment requires international cross-sector collaboration between urban farms and technology providers. 
  • This Insight discusses how GrowUp Urban Farms built the UK’s first commercial urban farm, applying a closed-loop production system to produce greens (salads and herbs) and fish. 

Circular Food Production in the City: Aquaponics Provides Food for 

Local Markets

Yvonne Mitschka and Aleksander Śniegocki, WiseEuropa; and Kate Hofman and Claire Hubbard, GrowUp Urban Farms


Accelerating the Creation of a Cleantech Cluster in London

Key messages:

  • Digitisation activities associated with Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things are prompting a step change in the efficiency of industrial processes. 
  • Real-time automated monitoring of factory processes facilitated by Industry 4.0 platforms enables manufacturers to improve productivity, and energy and resource efficiency, with a one-year return on investment. 
  • Interconnecting Industry 4.0 systems could help to create real-time digital marketplaces for production waste, enabling diverse by-product exchanges and resource sharing across industries.

Industry 4.0: A Key Enabler of the Circular Economy

David Tronchoni, edinn and Geraldine Brennan, CEEDR, Middlesex University Business School


Nurturing Talent: A Novel Education Model for Climate Innovation Clusters

Key messages:

  • Increasing the competitiveness of eco-industrial parks (EIPs) is an important driver for the adoption of industrial and territorial ecology (ITE) initiatives, which are underpinned by circular economy principles. 
  • Early and ongoing commitment by local governments, combined with ‘quick-win’ approaches that offer immediate, low-risk returns on investments, help EIPs to become established. 
  • Public-sector involvement and risk-sharing are strong incentives for private stakeholders to get involved in ITE initiatives, and help to increase their success. 

INSPIR’ECO: Applying Circular Economy  Principles to Industrial Parks

Delphine Antoniucci and Mary Hanhoun, ENGIE


Adapting Industrial Clusters for Climate Innovation: A Guide for Public Intervention


Key messages:

  • Public policies for waste regulation, particularly fiscal levers, can enable transition to a circular economy, but require public acceptance. 
  • As a result of dedicated policies, climate factors for landfill were reduced by 65 per cent in Emilia-Romagna between 2008 and 2015. 
  • An additional reduction of up to 25 per cent could be achieved by 2020 following introduction of an innovative regional waste tax in 2015. 

The Role of Fiscal Incentives in the  Transition to a Circular Economy: 

The Case of Regione Emilia-Romagna

Alberto Bellini and Alessandra Bonoli, University of Bologna, Italy

Adapting Industrial Clusters for Climate Innovation: A Guide for Public Intervention


Key messages:

  • Between 2016 and 2020, the additive manufacturing sector is predicted to consume around 250 million tonnes of virgin plastic worldwide. 
  • Recycling 25 per cent of the plastic consumption predicted by 2020 could avoid 300 million tonnes of CO2 emissions, saving around 3.3 billion megajoules of energy. 
  • Industrial processes that divert plastic from waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) into recycled plastic filaments for 3D printing could have significant climate and financial benefits.

Closing Material Loops: Diverting  Plastic from Waste Electrical and 

Electronic Equipment

Vicente Gavara, Andrés Lluna, Mayte Gil, Salvador Femenia and Pablo Domingo, Instituto Tecnológico de la Energía, Spain

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