Innovation Acceptance Unit

Position paper “Sustainable cities and regions“ of the Morgenstadt Initiative shows strategic measures for the broad implementation of digital and sustainable urban development

News | Leipzig /

Cities are among the largest emitters of CO2 and are therefore one of the most important levers in the fight against global warming. To enable local authorities in Germany to implement sustainable urban development and digitization as quickly as possible, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft's Morgenstadt Initiative has drawn up a position paper. The aim is to combine existing solutions, make them accessible and financially viable for all municipalities and cities and build new capacities.

The German government has from 2010 incorporated the future project "The CO2-neutral, energy-efficient and climate-adapted city" in its high-tech strategy. Since then, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft's "Morgenstadt Initiative" has been developing solutions for the city of the future with over ten institutes. This has been coordinated by the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO together with partners from industry and local authorities. "What was previously developed mainly in real laboratories and through public funding lines now needs a concerted approach to be tackled on a broad scale," says Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Bauer, head of the Fraunhofer IAO and spokesman for the Morgenstadt Initiative. "With the bundled research knowledge of the last ten years, we have written the position paper for a joint strategy of politics, research and industry.


Combining knowledge about sustainable solutions, making it accessible and implementable

In the now published publication "Sustainable Cities and Regions. A new strategy for the broad implementation of sustainable urban development in Germany", the experts present their findings from ten years of systems research. The strategy essentially covers the five major fields of action:

Structured information systems: Municipalities are to be supported in the planning, procurement and implementation of sustainable solutions by compiling and structuring all information of these solutions.

Flexible investment vehicles: It must also be possible for small and medium-sized municipalities to finance the procurement and introduction of sustainable solutions, e.g. through sustainability funds.

Intersectoral further training: In order to qualify municipal and company representatives for the planning, efficient implementation and operation of sustainable solutions, suitable intersectoral further training courses must be developed.

Marketable scaling: The exchange of experience and knowledge should be centrally coordinated at both national and international level.

Consistent quality assurance: In order for municipalities to find both high-quality and suitable solutions for themselves, a system must ensure both the quality and interoperability of the solutions.

In order to achieve these five goals, the team of authors formulates the need to combine an interdepartmental coordination unit with new solution architectures and innovation-promoting investment and qualification programs. In addition, the team of experts recommends the establishment of a national data competence centre that provides secure and neutral data architectures for the operation of smart city applications. Dr. Eva Ottendörfer, research coordinator of the Morgenstadt network at Fraunhofer IAO, explains: "Especially with the current findings from the corona crisis, it is now time to open the next chapter for sustainable cities and regions. Sustainability technologies can be a central pillar for Germany as a location for innovation and industry in the future".


First steps already recommended for this year

The expert team of the Morgenstadt Initiative considers the implementation of the two key measures mentioned above within the next 36 months to be time-critical. Due to the ongoing digitization, especially the current establishment of the first municipal data platforms in the course of the Smart City development, the researchers recommend as a first step the establishment of the data competence centre in the next few months in order to quickly ensure uniform data governance. The second step should then be the establishment of the interdepartmental agency for scaling and replication.


Fraunhofer IMW's point of focus in the Fraunhofer Initiative is on international knowledge and technology transfer

Fraunhofer IMW's point of focus in the Morgenstadt initiative is on international knowledge and technology transfer. Based on various research projects, a toolbox for successful international knowledge and technology transfer (WTT) is currently being developed. In this context it has to be considered that the technical, economic and social contexts are different. Solutions must therefore be geared to the respective needs of the cities. Especially in innovation processes with high entry uncertainty such as the transfer of solutions with a large distance between the context of creation and use, there is a risk of a so-called mismatch between needs and solutions. This can ultimately lead to problems of acceptance in the international transfer of innovative solutions. Contact person of the Initiative Morgenstadt for International Knowledge and Technology Transfer is Urban Kaiser, head of the Innovation Acceptance Unit at Fraunhofer IMW. He along with other Fraunhofer experts worked on the position paper.