Business Development Case Study

Open Innovation - Urban Food from Residual Heat

Turning excess heat into local produce for greener cities

The problem

There are huge amounts of low temperature residual heat that is currently wasted by being released into the environment and ultimately cooled away, instead of being utilised.

Urban Food from Residual Heat project is an Open Innovation competition designed to uncover solutions and concepts that directly relate to the process of growing and selling food in urban areas using residual heat as an input. The competition’s aim is to source and then co-develop a ‘full systems solution’ to capable of representing feasible facility that is economically-, environmentally-, and socially sustainable simultaneously.

The solution

The Swedish cities of Malmö, Lund, Oskarshamn and Bjuv in collaboration with E.ON, ICA Fastigheter, Veolia and more, have seached for creative partners with innovative solutions to be involved in a new venture. This new venture will use wasted heat energy emitted from industrial sources in the production of food or other biological products within the urban environment. Residual heat often emitted as clean warm water represents a waste of both energy and resources that is ultimately detrimental to the local and global environment.

These four municipalities plan to capture this residual heat and use it to produce fish, vegetables and other biological goods in production units located in their respective urban areas. They aim to incorporate the concepts of sustainability, the circular economy and zero waste into a new local service, one which will have positive socioeconomic benefits for the cities, such as employment, education and urban gentrification.

In their global search for solutions, these municipalities have announced a joint Open Innovation Competition from which the winning ideas will be taken and incorporated into a final proposal. Those involved in the final winning consortium will be able to collaborate with world leading companies such as E.ON, Veolia and Kraftringen on implementing their proposal in one or more of the host cities. The competition is supported by Vinnova, Sweden’s innovation agency. The consortium is seeking the submission of ideas to solve a number of challenge areas, as well as those that may build and improve upon the whole concept of using waste heat for food production. 

The impact

The competition has sought to gather ideas, concepts, and technologies from all over the world that can contribute to the realisation of this idea in the most exciting way possible. The competition has sourced a variety of innovative technologies and creative business concepts. For example, some of them incorporate the possibility of hosting educational classes for school children, university research, and a micro-brewery in the centre.

The ideas have now been compiled into full proposals for a food production centre that can be hosted in an urban environment. After developing their ideas over the last 12 months, three finalist teams has been selected and is now in the process of being implemented in the partner cities.

EIT Climate-KIC’s role: Climate-KIC was a key partner in designing and executing  the initial phase of Urban Food from Residual Heat, Open Innovation competition and have pprovided assistance and advice to project coordinators SLU concerning the competition’s overall structure, its individual activities and its submission demands from the competition participants.

Climate-KIC catalyse the rapid innovation needed across sectors by convening the brightest minds to tackle challenges, empowering leaders through capacity building, and seed funding the most promising climate-positive businesses.

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Peter Vangsbo, Nordic Business Developer, E: