At the heart of these discussions lay the ambition to help regions in realising their Transition Super-Labs, TSLs. Deliberations revolved around identifying the necessary knowledge, resources, and support for seamless Transition Super-Lab implementation. Additionally, the consortium deliberated on the specificities of the Knowledge Hub—aimed at fostering further replication of TSLs—and the forthcoming Toolkit, pivotal for capacity building. In addition, participants explored new ways of regional transformation that can be incorporated into TSLs, like focusing on hydrogen potential.
One of the highlights included the input from Gerd Schönwälder, who worked at the European Commission's DG Research and Innovation, DG RTD, and, together with others, developed the call that resulted in the pilot project on Transition Super-Labs. Gerd presented the general idea behind the TSL concept - the need to focus attention on some critical barriers and obstacles so as to accelerate the transition to climate neutrality. He stressed that technical solutions alone were not enough but that social, political and even cultural dimensions needed to be taken into account as well.
A central tenet of the meeting was region-specific presentations, wherein each region articulated its ambitions and challenges towards fulfilling the common goal - climate neutrality and regional transformation of transport (with the exception of the Ruhr region): railway, freight and cycling, as well as reducing pollution and using renewable energy sources.
The regions’ focus in the past six months was on coalition building in Transition Super-Labs and creating regional use cases. Research into TSL predecessors, feasibility studies, roadmap development, and the active development of the Toolkit and Knowledge Hub formed crucial components of this progress. Communication strategies were also actively pursued, with the creation of a comprehensive dissemination strategy and the development of the TRANSFORMER Hub to facilitate efficient sharing of updates.
A pivotal aspect of the event was to gain real-life insight into best practices in the transformation from fossil fuels to environmentally friendly resources. Thus, on the second day of the meeting, participants had the opportunity to visit a biomethane and composting site to see the innovative solutions for processing the partially sorted household waste from 600 thousand houses into useful outcomes. The site, owned by local municipalities, supplies gas into the grid for 2000 families and compost suitable for biological agriculture.
The event culminated with a workshop organised by the European Network of Living Labs, ENoLL, affording consortium members the opportunity to further enhance their skills and expertise.
The Bologna meeting served as a testament to the dedication and commitment of the TRANSFORMER project consortium towards shaping a sustainable and resilient future. The coming together of diverse regions and experts holds the promise of fostering meaningful change across the European landscape.