SmarThor EFRO – expanding digital services Open Thor Living Lab

ProjectBuildings & districts

Testing new software solutions and services requires solutions for access to context-rich datasets and a secure interface between experimental software and safety and comfort in the testing environment.

With EFRO funding, VITO and KU Leuven are developing expertise through planned research to add two new software modules to SmarThor

  1. context-rich datasets that allow companies to test apps and models
  2. API and framework with backup logic that allows experimental software solutions to be tested with buildings and households

Of course, these solutions must comply with privacy regulations and agreements with residents.

Testing new software solutions and services requires solutions for access to context-rich datasets and a secure interface between experimental software and safety and comfort in the physical testing environment. Realizing a testing environment that combines digital and physical, with daily varying conditions and users, is expensive and time-consuming. These challenges have already been taken up by the Open Thor Living Lab.

With support from the City of Genk, Thor Park NV and EnergyVille, Open Thor Living Lab is building out a sustainable energy infrastructure at Thor Park. This infrastructure includes the test houses of Thoreaq and ConstrucThor, the real-life oPEN Lab test environment of 33 houses located in the neighboring Waterschei garden suburb and New Texas social housing district, the CollecThor 5th generation heat grid, a direct current grid that can be configured both actively and passively, and an energy hub with space for alternating test setups that can smoothly plug into the various backbone systems here. Financial support for this was received from Europe through Horizon 2020, EFRO and from the Flemish government.

In this EFRO project, through co-creation workshops, companies will be involved to discuss their needs and specification requirements with experts. This close collaboration with companies allows their needs to be translated into objectives and specification documents that further define the conceptual architecture of SmarThor.
Next, these conceptual proposals will be evaluated for compliance with applicable privacy regulations, comfort protections for test families, and what contractual terms are needed with both data owners (families) and data users (companies) to smoothly deploy these new services for product development and testing.

For the IT development, as with the previous realizations for the SmarThor data platform, small iterations (sprints) with continuous adjustments will be used. A total of about 30 sprints are planned to bring both software modules to proof-of-concept testing with companies.

During the second project year, workshops in the form of hackathons will be organized where companies can plug into the new software modules to test their own concepts. This is simultaneously a proof-of-concept evaluation between clusters of sprints and an opportunity for companies to prepare their developments in advance for demonstration and experimentation in the Open Thor Living Lab.

In addition to companies, citizens are also involved as test families and communication and querying are actively used. The data and experiments also give governments better insight into which solutions are promising and help accelerate the transition from a fossil to a sustainable energy system in a cost-effective way.

With the expansion of the Open Thor Living Lab and the associated basic digital infrastructure SmarThor, we therefore mainly want to take on a social role to give Flemish industry easier access to international innovation and collaboration.

What's EnergyVille's role?

The VITO and KU Leuven teams developing optimization solutions, models, algorithms and data solutions for EnergyVille’s energy research are responsible for the development and day-to-day management of the SmarThor platform in close collaboration with EnergyVille and Open Thor Living Lab.

This project was created with the financial support of the Province of Limburg and EFRO.



Sign up for our co-creation workshop!

Did you know that as part of this project, we are hosting a co-creation workshop at EnergyVille on June 24? The workshop “Sustainable Public Charging in 2030 – What Challenges Await a Solution?” offers a unique opportunity for organizations and businesses to work with our experts and other professionals to address the challenges around affordable charging.

Click the button below to learn all about this interactive workshop. Be quick as the number of available seats is limited!

Please note that this workshop will be held in Dutch. 

Wim Cardinaels 

Project Manager Energy Technology


+32 14 33 58 89


Wim Cardinaels

Project Manager

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