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Research Excellence for Solutions and Implementation of net Zero Energy city Districts

Periodic Report Summary 2 - RE-SIZED (Research Excellence for Solutions and Implementation of net Zero Energy city Districts)

Project Context and Objectives:
The University of Mons (UMONS) located in the Walloon Region of Belgium, by the intermediate of its Research Institute for Energy, proposes to build an ERA-Chair Team headed by an ERA-Chair Holder (Established or Leader Researcher) for building a strong, sustainable and highly-performing Research, Development and Innovation (R&D&I) platform in the field of Energy Efficiency in city Districts according to the concept of “Net Zero Energy city Districts (NZED)”. UMONS sets up measures and actions at the level of the Institution and the ERA-Chair hosting departments for creating the best environment and conditions for achieving an ambitious R&D&I program aligned with the smart specialization priorities already initiated by the regional authorities for its socio-economic successful growth and with the European priorities within the European Research Area (ERA). The principal objectives of this project are (i) to reinforce Excellence in Research at UMONS in the field of NZED through the successful achievement of an ambitious R&D&I program; (ii) to enhance the Innovation potential in the field; (iii) to improve a network around the theme to the benefit of UMONS as well as the main regional, national and European stakeholders; and (iv) to assess the performance of the ERA-Chair model as well as its replication potential, within the Research Institute for Energy and other UMONS Research Institutes.
The main project objectives for the period were:
- To complete the recruitment of the ERA Chair Team
- To launch the R&D&I plan
- To create new education programmes
- To launch the first actions for creating connectivity with local stakeholders
- To develop new project proposals for exploiting the first results of the R&D&I plan and for improving the research funding
- To create the project performance monitoring tool
- To study the possibility of duplicating the ERA Chair Unit model within UMONS
- To communicate over the mertit of the ERA Chair Unit model and to perform first communications on R&D&I results.

Project Results:
The ERA Chair team is completed (1 ERA Chair Holder + 5 PhD researchers + 0.5 FTE Technology Transfer Support Person + 0.5 FTE Management and Scientific Support Person).
The Management Plan and tools are ready and in operation.
A first partnering event for improving connectivity with local stakeholders was organized (51 participants from companies, public bodies, research centres and universities). This event together with other specific meetings (11) and participation to (mainly) national events (16) allow to identify 12 priority partners. It leads to 15 project proposals. One was accepted, the others are under evaluation or were rejected.
A proposal of new specialized Master and proposal of ERASMUS MUNDUS programme were developed and submitted.
Project Performance Monitoring tools are ready to be used.
First proposals for replicating or better organizing the ERA Chair Unit model within UMONS were submitted to the UMONS authorities.
The Communication Plan is ready.
R&D&I first results led to 28 publications/presentations in scientific journals/national and international conferences.
A project proposal aiming at creating a spin off was submitted.

Potential Impact:
The field of research selected in the RE-SIZED Project i.e. “net zero energy city districts” is particularly well adapted to implement the ERA Chair model and accordingly to provide a leverage effect for its broad adoption. Cities and districts are at the fore-front of a transition towards a low carbon and resource efficient economy which is an essential societal challenge of the next decades. This evolution cannot be successful without a sound and controlled integration of technologies and services regarding building, heating/cooling, lighting, broadband communication etc. Interoperability is, accordingly, a clear prerequisite for smart technologies to be implemented which imposes all kind of stakeholders to be aware of the most suitable and innovative technologies and services and interoperability between them. R&D needs to be complemented by transfers of technologies and knowledge, adapted training programs and a strategic dissemination programs to lead to increased awareness among all stakeholders (energy project developers, industry, urban planners, cities regulators etc.) for further large-scale implementations to be performed.
The Main project impacts may be summarized as:
- Development of research capacity and research excellence combining different funding streams.
- Enhancement of competitiveness and excellence in research thus become active players in the ERA topics
- Increased participation of the institution in Horizon 2020 and other important European
- Strong interactions with regional authorities (Walloon region) designing and implementing research
and Innovation strategies for smart specialization in the field of low carbon built environment.
- Strong interactions with stakeholders for making them familiar with the concepts of low energy city districts and Smart cities
- Technology and knowledge transfer
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