Leading research institutions, companies and authorities across Europe have joined forces to develop and realise innovative climate solutions under the EU initiative ‘Climate-KIC’. COWI’s participation builds on the Nordic part of the partnership, which was established last autumn and recently opened an innovation centre at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) in Lyngby.
How do we translate research and knowledge into tangible, innovative solutions that can address global climate challenge – and can be implemented commercially in the market? That is the essence of the focus of the EU climate partnership ‘Climate Knowledge and Innovative Community’ (Climate-KIC), which includes both public and private actors across national borders and sectors in the ambitious task.
Competitive solutions are a must
The partnership is geographically centred on six co-location centres (CLC) scattered around Europe – one of these being the recently inaugurated Nordic knowledge and innovation centre at DTU. COWI represents the consulting industry, bringing to the table interdisciplinary knowledge on climate solutions in both specialised engineering and a wider socioeconomic perspective.
Claus Hvashøj Jørgensen, Senior Market Director at COWI, explains: “We’re excited about being an active partner in Climate-KIC. Linking the three legs of the traditional ‘triangle of knowledge’ – education, business, research – and involving public authorities are very interesting. With the KIC idea, the EU Commission created a new model for supporting innovation. In previous climate initiatives, research alone tended to determine what activities were pursued – without involving the market that is to develop, produce and buy the solutions. As a result, the actual realisation was often quite slow or did not occur at all.
For Climate-KIC, all relevant parties have a seat around the table, meaning that we are able to jointly develop solutions that are not only expedient from a climate perspective, but also competitive in terms of the supply-and-demand market logic.”
Going from idea development to realisation
Along with the other participants in the Nordic partnership, COWI will be starting the preliminary idea development phase. On the process, Hvashøj Jørgensen says: “First, the partnership is to exchange ideas that we may already have worked on in our different companies and institutions. The goal is to take these ideas to a new, more innovative level together. Then, we get our European colleagues from the other co-location centres involved to create anchorage and receive new input that helps make the ideas more realisable. The next step is to apply for funds to prepare a ‘market maturation study’, which is to uncover the market potential of the idea that we choose to pursue. And, lastly, we are to prepare an actual project description with a view to further developing and realising the idea in 2015.
One specific example of a local, Danish problem which is of global relevance and as such could become the object of our work, is the increasing need to protect ourselves against floods. How do we do that in a more efficient and climate-friendly manner? One of the things to consider is how to drain off water. And in our group of pump manufacturers, engineers, scientists and so on, we have an incredible chance to take a creative approach to the challenge, and perhaps develop new innovative technologies or another type of solutions that we see a market for.”
Climate-KIC is one of three so-called Knowledge and Innovation Communities under the European Institute for Innovation and Technology (EIT). The other two focus on energy and IT, respectively. The Climate-KIC will create a strong community of world-class companies, scientists and students working closely together to solve well-defined and carefully selected innovation challenges, in order to create technologies and the financial basis for capitalising these.
The Nordic co-location centre of the Climate-KIC was established by: Chalmers University of Technology, Grundfos A/S, Velux A/S, University of Copenhagen, Technical University of Denmark, City of Copenhagen, COWI A/S, Novozymes A/S, Realdania and Rockwool A/S.