Climate Hub Vienna - Concept development and preparation of an innovation laboratory to accelerate Vienna’s path to climate neutrality
completed (February 2023)
Motivation, content and results
Vienna is considered the city with the highest quality of life worldwide. Various factors contribute to this, such as affordable housing, well-developed public transport, many easily accessible green spaces, very good healthcare, inclusive educational institutions, good employment opportunities and a wide range of cultural offerings. Due to the city's density and decades of investment in transport and energy infrastructure (public transport, combined heat and power, waste heat recovery and district heating) coupled with energy saving measures, Vienna's per capita consumption of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) is the lowest in Austria. The drastic reduction of greenhouse gases according to the Paris Agreement as well as the already noticeable consequences of climate change also pose great challenges for Vienna.
In its government programme for 2020-2024 Vienna's city government defined the goal of becoming climate-neutral by 2040. In order for the city of Vienna to become a climate-neutral and climate-resilient metropolis in 2040, the most important climate protection and climate adaptation goals of the city were systematically defined in the Smart Climate City Strategy Vienna in 2022. The Vienna Climate Guide then identifies the most important levers, measures and instruments for achieving the goals - from mobility to energy, from circular economy to services of general interest. Vienna relies on both proven and innovative measures and instruments to achieve the set goals.
The exploratory study for the preparation of an innovation lab to accelerate the path to climate neutrality in Vienna builds on these strategies. The aim of this exploratory study with the working title "Climate Hub Vienna" was to design an urban innovation laboratory that supports the acceleration of decarbonisation in Vienna. The concept focuses on systemic innovations to achieve climate neutrality and the accelerated implementation of R&D&I projects by providing infrastructure and targeted services. By networking and systematically involving the city administration and users, this innovation lab aims to strengthen the effectiveness of the city's climate initiatives and to promote the participation of citizens in the transformation and contribute to its acceptance.
An extensive inventory (desk research) and needs analysis (structured interviews) was followed by the definition and elaboration of focal topics and the service portfolio in a co-creative process involving various stakeholder groups from science, business and city administration as well as organisations supporting neighbourhood developments.
Early in the process, scaling climate-relevant solutions was identified as a mission, as there are already many relevant initiatives in the area of piloting and start-up, while there is a lack of support for ramp-up and roll-out. To strengthen and accelerate the latter, the Innovation Lab will provide services in the following areas:
- Impact assessment: Impact monitoring should ensure that those solutions are scaled up whose effectiveness is promising with regard to the achievement of objectives. The Climate Hub Vienna should be a quality filter and support for scaling projects.
- Regulations & processes: As a bridge builder between legislators and innovations, the Climate Hub Vienna will examine existing administrative processes and regulations. Regulatory and procedural hurdles are to be collected and change processes initiated and accompanied, which are necessary for the scaling of promising solutions.
- Financing: In order to achieve rapid scaling and roll-out, comprehensive (pre-)financing of the investment costs is required. The Climate Hub Vienna sees itself here as a coordination and enabling body. It should facilitate networking with existing financing options and support the City of Vienna in creating new financing options.
In addition, the Vienna Climate Hub is to be active in the following cross-cutting topics and provide important basic services:
- Knowledge transfer: The Climate Hub Vienna is to act as a central interface, multiplier and initiator in order to bring existing and new knowledge quickly and systematically to the right target group(s). The insights and learnings from the three thematic focal points are to be communicated to the target groups for further roll-out, while at the same time organising and facilitating an exchange and networking.
- Activation, participation and communication: The Climate Hub Vienna should act as a capacity builder and matchmaker. Through the activation and participation of various actors, the acceptance and motivation in civil society should be strengthened. As a knowledge hub for the decarbonisation of neighbourhoods, the Hub can play an important networking role.
- Supporting "project pipelines": As a further element of acceleration, the Climate Hub Vienna should offer support for the project preparation phase ("project pipeline"). This can be technical, financial and legal analyses, support with tenders, etc., in order to bring decarbonisation projects more quickly from the pre-development phase to realisation and broad scaling. The ELENA funding from the European Investment Bank (EIB) is envisaged here as a financing instrument for these services.
For the realisation of this focus, a municipal or near-municipal operator with public co-financing emerged as advantageous, as the public sector has an important role to play in scaling up and rolling out climate protection measures.
During the project, the Federal Ministry of Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (BMK) changed its strategy. Instead of an innovation lab for climate-neutral cities, the instrument was switched to a public-public-cooperation, which is based on substantially different conditions, in particular the operating and financing model of innovation labs. Apart from that, the results of this project have been incorporated as well and as far as possible into the proposal for the new call "Pionierstadt – Partnerschaft für klimaneutrale Städte 2030".
UIV Urban Innovation Vienna GmbH
Project or cooperation partners
- AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH (AIT) (P1)
- Magistrat der Stadt Wien (Wien) (P2)
- Wien Energie GmbH (WE) (P3)