Smart Energy – increasing cooperation between researchers and businesses to achieve energy efficiency

The Smart Energy – Network of Excellence project enabled cross-border cooperation between the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region in northern Italy and the Carinthia state in southern Austria in the field of low-carbon energy research. It allowed project partners to expand their network, develop new research projects and increase their knowledge in their specific domains.

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© The Lakeside Science & Technology Park © The Lakeside Science & Technology Park

" The project supports regional and cross-regional innovation in energy technologies through the development and maintenance of a clear innovation strategy and an organisational cooperation platform. "

Martin Krch, Projects and Cooperation, Lakeside Science & Technology Park GmbH

The development of new low-carbon technologies is essential to meeting the EU’s climate change goals, while contributing to innovation, jobs and growth. To achieve a cut in greenhouse emissions of 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, new low carbon technologies have to be deployed, an area in which Europe is a leading player. 

To help achieve these aims, the Smart Energy – Network of Excellence project developed an interregional network of expertise in low-carbon technologies by connecting research institutes and innovative businesses in the two participating regions. Research in innovative low-carbon technologies covers several topics, such as energy efficiency, saving, storage and production. It is also closely linked to waste management, recycling and water purification. 

During its implementation, between January 2012 and March 2015, four additional people were employed within the project.

Setting up an online cooperation platform and a strategy plan

The project achieved three main objectives, in line with the EU’s Europe 2020 strategy of strengthening research, technological development and innovation in all member states. The first one was to identify researchers and research topics in order to draw up a competency map, highlighting relevant companies and research institutions. 

This analysis allowed the partners to identify the strengths of both regions and the potential synergies and cooperation between them. The ultimate goal was to increase cooperation between researchers and businesses by connecting them through an online networking platform.

The second achievement was the development of a cross-border innovation and research strategy and roadmap based on the expertise available in both regions.

Implementation of pilot projects

The third step was to implement pilot projects to test the project’s strategic goals. One of the pilot projects by the Lakeside Science & Technology Park was the formation of the research cluster “Energy management and technology” at the Alps-Adriatic University of Klagenfurt. This included a one-week international workshop on “Human Centred Energy Management” at Lakeside Park, focusing on interdisciplinary aspects of developing low-carbon energy technologies. 

Another pilot project was the statistical analysis of building stock and the development of guidelines for energy efficiency improvements by CETA (Centre for Theoretical and Applied Ecology). 

A third project was the establishment of an observatory at the University of Udine to monitor local energy production from renewable sources, promote and set-up research facilities and equipment for technical and scientific analyses, and develop new strategies for renewables.

The achievement of these results creates the basis for future collaboration between research institutes and businesses.

Total investment and EU funding 

Total investment for the project “Smart energy – network of excellence” is EUR 1 217 059, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 843 373 through the “Italy - Austria” Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period. The investment falls under the priority “Economic Relations, competitiveness and diversification”.

Draft date