Living Lab Hoppet resulted in collaboration on new testbed
The City of Gothenburg aims to be a climate-neutral city by 2050. As part of these efforts, Sweden’s first fossil-free preschool, Hoppet, is currently under construction. The goal is to develop products that enable – and establish a new standard for – fossil-free construction. In order to succeed, the city of Gothenburg needs help and input from other stakeholders working with the development of fossil-free solutions for the construction industry.
With assistance from the EU’s Northern Connection project, 27 suppliers and innovators from five northern European countries were invited to Living Lab Hoppet in Gothenburg in May to present themselves and to network around the common goal of fossil-free construction.
“We wanted to create an arena that enables participants to both inspire and be inspired and to find out what the supply chain has to offer. But also, to gauge the level of ambition among different categories of property developer,” says Lars Bern from Business Region Göteborg, one of the Northern Connection partners and the host of Living Lab Hoppet.
One of the participants was Paula de Hollanda from property management company Castellum in Gothenburg. She presented their construction project for the Swedish courts in Malmö, one of three pilot projects in Sweden aiming to develop a new certification system, ‘NollCO2’ (ZeroCO2). The objective is zero net emissions throughout the building’s entire life cycle. As such, it includes not only the actual construction work, but also the operation and maintenance of the completed property.
“We’ve set our sights high when it comes to fossil-free construction. This means we have to keep an ear to the ground and follow developments. Our experience from the preschool Hoppet is of importance here, but so is that from the other urban development projects presented at Living Lab Hoppet. Continued cooperation and closer collaboration with other stakeholders will be key now as we develop the Säve Airport testbed,” says Paula de Hollanda, project developer at Castellum Region Väst.
High ambitions for achieving the future goals
Castellum’s ambition with the old Säve Airport, located a few kilometres from central Gothenburg, is for it to be a future logistics hub and a testbed for fossil-free solutions in energy, vehicles and transport. The goal is for the area to be self-sufficient using locally sourced renewable energy.
“To achieve this, we need to work with innovative solutions in cooperation with others and to also be able to test what works in practice. The idea is for the entire area to be an environment where companies and other stakeholders can develop and test their ideas in real-life scenarios. We know, for example, that the transport sector is seeking sustainable solutions for the future,” says Paula.
“There’s a great deal of shared interest in the electrification of vehicles within industry, academia and society. Testbeds play an important role in this. The aim, of course, is to speed the process from idea to market introduction. You can run tests at all levels: the engine in a lab, the vehicle’s functionality on test tracks and then the entire product in real life in a living lab. We saw in Castellum’s vision for Säve Airport that we had similar ambitions, and these are not challenges that a property developer can resolve alone. Others need to be involved to achieve a broader approach, and that’s where we can help,” says Lars.
In the search for tenants and stakeholders – to share experiences and knowledge
Castellum is now looking for tenants for the area and other stakeholders who want to help with and be part of the development of fossil-free solutions. This is where Business Region Göteborg’s extensive network and test bed experience can be of benefit. Business Region Göteborg has, for instance, invited potential stakeholders from its networks and contacts to information meetings about the plans for Säve Airport.
The idea is to attract companies, as well as researchers and authorities, who can benefit from each other by sharing experiences, as well as by the smart shared use of resources at the site. The area is home to, for example, Sweden’s largest solar park, which is run by the power company Göteborg Energi, a company developing an electrically powered passenger plane and another company testing and developing autonomous drones.
“Our goal is to see trade and industry in Gothenburg thrive and develop. That we can now work more closely with Castellum and share our contacts, knowledge and experience from other testbeds is most satisfying. We see great potential in the Säve Airport testbed,” says Lars.
And there is a great deal of experience to leverage. The Gothenburg region has the most testbeds in Sweden, several of them with a focus on sustainable development.
“We want Säve Airport to be a community that offers access to interesting developments and innovations, that is the place to be for anyone developing sustainable solutions. Our goal is that it should be a great advantage for the participants’ business operations and branding to be part of what’s happening at Säve Airport,” says Paula.
More value from the Living Lab Event
The success of the Gothenburg Living Lab also inspired Northern Connections partner Sustainable Business Hub to work with Lund and other local municipalities of Sweden’s Skåne region to explore the potential for the Living Lab concept to harness the North Sea Region’s innovative capacity to solve tough sustainability challenges such as those faced in Brunnshög.
Although it is still early days, Sustainable Business Hub hopes to implement two or three local living labs in Skåne before the summer of 2020. This unexpected spinoff of Northern Connections shows that challenge owners see real value in using Living Labs to tap into innovations from across the North Sea Region.