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  • Writer's pictureΓΙΑΝΝΗΣ ΚΩΣΤΑΡΕΛΛΑΣ

Just Transition Living Lab: An open innovation ecosystem to create sustainable impact

Updated: Nov 21, 2023

For the past seven decades, Greece has relied on lignite, which was the national fuel that contributed greatly to the development of the economy and the electrification of the country. Today, the country is moving towards replacement of lignite as the main fuel for power generation, in compliance with European energy and climate targets, but also for purely economic reasons. The contribution to the local economy from the operation of the current Public Power Corporation units, in the regions of Western Macedonia and the Peloponnese was particularly important and contributed greatly to the primary and secondary employment in Thermal Power Plants and mines, but, also, offered local added value from the existence of secondary activities related to the operation of these units.

Just transition is a vision and a process based on dialogue and an agenda shared with citizens, workers, industry, governments and academia, that need to be further explored in geographical, economical, political, cultural, and social contexts. Just Transition Fund is the key tool to ensure the transition towards a climate-neutral economy, leaving no one behind.

In this perspective Just Transition Institute Greece, together with the University of Western Macedonia established Just Transition Living Lab as an educational, collaborative, research and innovation living lab, to tackle the Just Transition challenges at the respective areas around the globe and to connect citizens and policies of areas in transition that face the greatest challenges of their modern history.

What are living labs

Living Labs are open innovation ecosystems in real-life environments based on a systematic user co-creation approach that integrates research and innovation activities in communities, placing citizens at the centre of innovation.

They operate as intermediaries among citizens, research organisations, companies, and government agencies or levels for joint-value co-creation, rapid prototyping or to scale up innovation and businesses.

They are open innovation ecosystems in real-life environments using iterative feedback processes throughout the lifecycle approach of an innovation.

What can Just Transition Living Lab offer

Inclusion is the first step to acknowledge status, challenges in order to search for sustainable solutions. Therefore, JTLL seeks for opportunities in order to develop its capacities & knowledge, for the provision of innovative and impactful solutions and services to the citizens. That’s the only viable way for the increase of the JTLL added-value.

Two main JTLL stakeholders so far (UoWM and JTIG) represent the two sectors of Quadruple Helix, as Academia and Citizen. These two can bridge together the gap between other two sectors of Government (local, regional, national) and Industry (local and national). JTLL brings the final beneficiaries in front, their needs, fears, challenges, uncertainties, their lack of confidence towards their new ‘future”.

With the support of the Academia (UoWM) conduct extensive research and consequently propose solutions to Policy makers and to the Industry. JTLL members acquire a “first-hand” approach and experience of other quadruple helix representatives like local, regional and national government, as well as companies, SMEs and their respective Chambers.

How it works

JTLL is based on the multi-pillar system, driven by research, education, energy, environment, health & wellbeing, as well as industries & manufacturing. Through the educational and research dimension, the students take advantage of first-hand access to policy makers and Industry protagonists, into areas and sectors that can become the next day development scheme of the Region. The research interests include Smart Cities & Regions, SME & Start-ups, Social Innovation & Inclusion.

JTLL and its members are in a fruitful contact and constant cooperation with local stakeholders and associations, like Chambers (Commercial, Economic, Technical, Geotechnical etc), civil society organizations and clubs. This contact provides the raw material for the JTLL research in order to provide transition solutions and policy proposals with the greatest possible social cohesion and public acceptance.

JTLL is a member of the European Network of Living Labs-ENoLL.

Ioannis Kostarellas is Communication & Dissemination Manager, Co-Founder at Just Transition Institute Greece

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