Recent studies by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicate that Europe faces increased risks of floods and droughts, which would result in water restrictions and damage caused by extreme weather events such as heat and wildfires. These studies also highlight a gap between the research and innovations aimed at reducing these climate change risks and the markets they are intended for. “Europe is prone to natural disasters due to climate change,” says coordinator of the EU-funded BRIGAID project Bas Jonkman. “Innovations will be key to climate adaptation, but many innovations fail to reach the market because of a lack of insight into and attention to technical readiness and impacts, social acceptance and business aspects.” The researchers set out to consider the geographical and economic variability of climate-related hazards in Europe. They also examined the structural hurdles that would need to be surpassed to implement the many innovative solutions European industry has to offer. BRIGAID built a network of 120 innovators, many of which are in the green sector, and showcased them in the online Climate Innovation Window. The project has supported these innovators to advance their technical and social readiness and business preparation.
Communities of innovation
The researchers facilitated the development of the innovations using expertise in addition to the small testing and support budgets. The team further helped to build up some local communities of innovation specific to certain regions, such as drought innovations in Spain and innovations for flood defence in Romania. “We had the success story of a smart green roof in Antwerp (Belgium) which had some neighbourhood involvement and a lot of sharing of information with the public,” adds Jonkman. “Another success story is Flood Proof Romania, a new test site we opened near Bucharest.” The smart green roof in Antwerp demonstrates a water retention system that makes use of modular trays via remote control to store and dissipate rainwater on a roof. The Flood Proof system in Romania is a downstream dam 13 metres high used as a platform to test flood prevention structures designed to stop high-speed water found in mountainous areas.
From innovation to entrepreneurship
The project organised innovation fairs in Italy, the Netherlands, Romania and Spain that brought together end users and innovators. In addition, the researchers facilitated knowledge transfer between regions regarding innovations that they anticipate will become more valuable in the future. Jonkman warns that existing climate change specific to some regions will become more widely spread over Europe, such as the drought and wildfires in southern Europe that will be a problem everywhere. For this reason, BRIGAID is providing long-term support for innovations particularly in the climate adaptation market in which many of the clients are government agencies. For the future, BRIGAID has established the BRIGAID Connect platform as a sustainable independent entity that transforms innovators into entrepreneurs. The researchers hope to use this platform to connect innovators to end users and technical experts, to ultimately deliver adaptation innovations that improve European climate resilience.
BRIGAID, climate change, climate innovation, communities of innovation, climate mitigation, natural disasters, climate resilience