by Sandra Vlašić @TerraHub
November 11, 2019. Close to
one hundred representatives of cities, research and education institutions,
students, start-ups, entrepreneurs, public and civic organisations skylighted
from the top floor of Zagreb business skyscraper overlooking the main square. The
mighty hundred gathered together around climate crises and the ways of how we can
innovate, how we need to change the systems and ways we live and work in cities.
“The climate crises changes
everything we know now and the only way to deal with it is to work together –
to collaborate, to co-create, to experiment and learn how to use all the
knowledge we have fragmented across sectors and themes – together. At one spot.
Where the change happens. In our cities. That is what the work of the largest
European knowledge and innovation community EIT KIC is about.” – said Dina
DeHart from the EIT Climate-KIC CEO
office, at the opening of the event. This time the climate community known
as EIT Climate-KIC crossed the event
with the health community known as EIT-Health,
both aiming to improve the quality of life in cities and to adopt to changing
Cities as two-way hotspots
The cities are affected the most
because majority of global population lives in cities. Cities are hot-spots due
to density of people, buildings and traffic; due to consumption of energy and
resources, due to rapid urbanisation with glass, steel and concrete instead of
greening the roofs, facades, roads and public spaces. At the same time, cities
are great spots for testing and experimenting and finding the right solutions
to these same challenges – with smart construction and management helped with
the use of artificial intelligence, with re-use of materials and use of
compostable materials, with urban farms and home-gardens.
Smart urban services and
infrastructure management systems like those of WePark
or Ascalia teams can do it. MAKABI Agritech and Urban
Oasis teams can help grow highly nutritious food in urban (and not only
urban) gardens. Walking and cycling city streets in MIRET
sneakers remain invisible for nature as they can be composted after use, while Naval Hydro Pack team solution
ensures that commercial shipping uses the least needed amounts of fuel when the
goods we do not have in our neighbourhood are shipped from long distance. All
these six teams are part of the
first generation of EIT Climate-KIC start-up accelerator in Croatia and
they worked-out innovative solutions for better life already now.
Who will be the next generation?
Maybe some of Climate-KIC programmes alumni who participated in Journey summer school, Climathons in
Zagreb, Rijeka and Varaždin or in the professional exchange programme known as Pioneers into Practice? For the
first time we have more then dozen professionals infected by system innovation
for climate who got irreversibly weaved into European climate innovation
network of professionals, partners and actors.
Connecting innovations with
the market and users
“More than 80% of innovations in
the World comes out of academic research community. In Croatia it is not like
that at all – most of it comes from individuals, enthusiasts and garages.
Initiative is let to the economy and entrepreneurship sector while the Ministry
of Science ignores it. That is not enough and is far from systemic.” – was the
highlight of the appeal to the audience by professor Miljenko Šimpraga,
Vice-rector for Innovations, Technology Transfer and Communications of Zagreb University.
We must work on connecting them
with academic institutions but most importantly with the market and with
end-users. Innovation has to be embedded into solutions to very concrete
problems and challenges of the people. People living in cities. People growing
food. People producing goods and services resilient and capable to deal with
the changed climate. What would help a lot is a push. The community needs to
grow and to evolve.
The first push is from the market – some solutions
are already known for decades, we need no innovation but rather put them into
practice, on the market. Just one example given at the panel discussion moderated
by Robert Pašičko from Green Energy
Cooperative were various business models in the field of renewable
energy: first we have to sort solar energy entrepreneurship – in Croatia and we
still don’t have massive production in the place of consumption. Our roofs are
empty while the number of sunny days is amongst highest in Europe.
“We should start installing panels on the roofs, we
need solar powered floating mills, we need creating new jobs like that and increase
the wise use of our natural resources. Energy should not be exclusive. It’s our
local natural source, that should be given to many – cities, local municipality,
entrepreneurs etc. These are not unknown innovations, we need to start
implementing the business models that are already there, available across
Europe.“ – pointed out Maja Pokrovac, director of the
Renewables Croatia Association. We must demand the change and be active
actors of change.
That second push is needed from the national level.
Cities nor researchers cannot do it alone. For the next 7 years EU is asking
countries to spend at least 25% out of ESIF (European Investment and Structural
Funds) compared to 20% in the current perspective. How are we doing right now?
Ana Pavičić, the evaluator and monitoring expert
for Horizon2020 actions explained: “Not very good, there are very few
Croatian climate-related projects. For example in Austria – 60% of European
Structural funds are used for Climate Change projects and investment. In
Ireland it’s 40%. Croatia has every year
a big funding envelope from ESIF – one billion euros. Why are we limiting
ourselves to 25% of ESIF? Let’s aim for 50%, let’s mark Croatian 2020 Presidency
with this ambition and pave the way for the others.” This would be a strong
sign from the Government and a clear push for the private sector and local
governments to go into collective action. This will encourage cities to change.
This is what we need.
Every single citizen, student, researcher,
entrepreneur, bold, passionate, sensitive human is invited to join us. We have
a room for everyone: we are an inclusive and open community. We listen to, we
communicate, we co-operate, we co-design tools, technologies, innovations
immediately available on the stage. We would like to ground our feet into
reality delivering concrete solutions for all. Let us create resilient future
together and now. Apply to our start-up accelerator programme, apply to our
education programmes, participate in our cities’ accelerator programme. Join