Innovation in Action: Energy Mission 2023


Energy Mission 2023, held on October 17, 2023, at Thor Central in Genk, Belgium, provided a captivating exploration of the intersection of innovation and the energy transition. The event was set against the backdrop of Thor Park, a remarkable European living lab that evolved from a former coal mine into a state-of-the-art technology park.

Mission for Energy Transition

Since its inception in 2020, Energy Mission has been on a mission to drive energy transition across sectors. Over the years, the conference has successfully brought together more than 500 enthusiastic stakeholders from industry, academic institutions, society and governments – i.e. the quadruple helix.

The core challenge for the 2023 conference was a pressing one: how to bridge the gap between promising innovations and widespread market adoption. How can end-users play a part in designing and accepting these innovations? “Energy living labs” provide answers and serve as open innovation ecosystems, where energy technologies are rigorously tested and refined in collaboration with end-users and other crucial components. This collaborative phase ensures that innovations are market ready.

Energy Mission 2023 exemplified the pivotal role played by living labs in bringing these innovations to life and bridging the gap between concept and reality. The conference’s program was dynamic and engaging, featuring sessions on the living lab ecosystem, international keynotes, in-depth exploration of living lab experiences, and discussions with investors.

Decarbonisation and Holistic Innovation

Prof. Frank Gielen, Education Director and Exco member at EIT InnoEnergy, underscored the critical role of decarbonization, during his keynote lecture, as both a challenge and an unparalleled business opportunity. He emphasized that organizations excelling at connecting businesses and stakeholders will lead the innovation wave. EIT InnoEnergy has therefore, thanks to their holistic approach, harnessed the climate tech innovation ecosystem as a business differentiator and a key driver of future growth. “The best way to change the world is by education”, stated Prof. Gielen,  highlighting the need for investments in talent, including collaboration with universities. EIT InnoEnergy currently successfully invests in the education of engineers from around the world, integrating them into their portfolio.

The day culminated in a roundtrip of EU energy living labs, emphasizing the importance of human interaction and impact-driven approaches. Living lab representatives from around Europe, such as Daan Six (Open Thor Living Lab – Belgium), Joëlle Mastelic (Energy Living Lab Association – Switzerland), Evdaxia Kouraki (Johanneberg Science Park AB  – Sweden), Alexandra Vanhuyse (Snowball – Belgium), Stefan Hoekstra (Green Village Living Lab – The Netherlands), Dominiek Vandewiele (Transfo-site – Belgium) and Inne Peersman (Green Energy Park – Belgium), discussed their achievements and learnings, the importance of partnerships, and the need for scalability and replicability in energy innovations.

Looking for more Energy Mission? Make sure to also watch the aftermovie of the event:

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