The 27th and 28th of January the conference SymCity was arranged by EPIC partner University of Linköping and the Region of Östergötland, in Norrköping (Sweden). The theme for the event was Transformation, and took a wide scope of the transformation of cities from where we are today to where we need to be tomorrow. One of the main focuses was Industrial Symbiosis, since it plays an important role in future cities. EPIC partners were represented in presentations, panel discussions, and the project also held a workshop on the theme “Barriers for Industrial Symbiosis” which built on results from another workshop at the conference Urban Magma in March 2015.

Day 1 of the conference focused on “Challenges”, and set the scene by showing examples of the challenges that different regions and organisations are facing. City of Malmö shared their main challenges that in key words can be described with; fast growing population, high unemployment and housing/service shortage – something that Malmö share with many European cities. At the same time Malmö has high ambitions of developing sustainable, and high set environmental goals. Industrial symbiosis addresses several of these challenges since it both gives companies a competitive edge to develop further in the region, and decreases emissions and the use of virgin raw material. Furthermore the City of Malmö described their role as a driving force, coordinator and facilitator of industrial symbiosis, and also shared the most important results of the EPIC project activities.

Researchers from Linköping University (LiU) described challenges for industrial symbiosis as a concept and presented good examples from different Swedish regions that have overcome these challenges. The key message in the presentation was the benefits of implementing a collective approach to resource management, where diverse local/regional actors create economic and environmental value by collaborating regarding; adding value to under-utilised or wasted resources; developing of more efficient, shared utility and service solutions; knowledge exchange and innovation. The awareness to this statement is high, but even so there are not enough initiatives towards this development in Sweden or in other countries.

There are a lot of barriers to why the development isn’t progressing faster, and those barriers where discussed at the workshop that EPIC arranged day 2. The barriers themselves had been listed in earlier workshop, so the focus now was to discuss solutions and ways to overcome barriers. To conclude, there was a big focus on how to overcome economical barriers such as; who will take the investment (outside core business)? How open can and need a company be to its neighbours and future business partners in order to create and show a win-win and trust for a joint investment? One important conclusion was that there is a need for a new player here that can take the role as a coordinator/matchmaker between the owner of a resource flow and the exploiter of the resource. Another important discussion related to informational barriers; the understanding of Industrial Symbiosis and the need for gathered information and good examples to be able to increase the interest for the area. To address this need a new initiative is under construction under Linköping University lead; Swedish Initiative for Industrial Symbiosis (SIIS). There is a large and wide interest for this initiative, which will be taking form within 2016 in a joint working group led by LiU where also both City of Malmö and E.ON will participate.

A very interesting part of the conference was when key note speaker Mattias Örtenvik from E.ON held a presentation that focused a lot on the future energy market, and how E.ON as a company has restructured and divided their entire organisation to be able to meet the future challenges on the energy market. One important trend is the need of going from large scale production plants to a more diverse production portfolio. In this future; industrial symbiosis can play an important role since the concept aims at gathering i.e. waste heat from a diverse set of sources to a district heating grid.

We had some very interesting and fruitful days in Norrköping!

More information and presentations can be found here: www.symcity.se