1. Introduction

Welcome to H2020 REPAiR online handbook of knowledge transfer.

Learning from policies and solutions implemented abroad or exchange of the so-called best practices is a common-place phenomenon in across virtually all fields of public policy. In an increasingly globalised and interconnected world, seeking solutions to local problems abroad and learning from foreign experiences by local, regional or national government to improve domestic policies has become the norm. Policy-makers and other policy actors operating at national, regional, or local levels routinely seek to learn from the successful policies, strategies or solutions implemented abroad to address domestic policy failures or seek inspiration for new initiatives. Despite its popularity, as underscored in rich academic literature on this topic (see e.g. Dolowitz and Marsh, 2000; Rose, 1991) and proliferation of repositories of good practice, and programmes facilitating inter-regional or inter-city knowledge exchanges, learning from abroad is a process riddled with uncertainty about the fit of a foreign solution in the recipient context. This in turn entails the risk of transfer of solutions which are ill-suited and may thus lead to disappointing outcomes. The uncertainty concerns the ‘transferability of solutions across the vastly differentiate states, regions or cities having different governance systems, administrative cultures, knowledge in use in everyday life, technological advancement, patterns of stakeholders’ involvement and their interests, objectives and focus of policies, geographical features, to the less tangible and socio-cultural aspects.  This uncertainty is all the greater in cases where the policies or solutions transferred are relatively new, complex and place-specific, as is the case for circular economy solutions and, in particular those that are innovative and embedded in the specific territorial strategies and local geographies of material flows. However, knowledge transfer definitely remains a worthwhile exercise. In the process of devising solutions to complex problems affecting a particular territory, foreign experience can provide a useful source of inspiration, cautionary tales, ideas, understandings or concrete measures, which can enrich the spectrum of possibilities and knowledge pool available to decision-makers.

This handbook provides regional and local policy actors with hands-on guidance and ideas on how to engage in knowledge transfer in a way that helps to avoid the typical pitfalls of learning from foreign best practice. It is based on H2020 REPAiR project and its unique experience of knowledge transfer between six European Peri-Urban Living Labs in the field of circular economy and resource management. Thus, it is most useful for regional or urban practitioners interested in transfer of strategies and solutions in this particular policy field, however, it can also provide valuable methodological lessons and insights for knowledge transfer in territorially-focused policies promoting sustainable urban and regional development.

1.1 Aim

The aim of this handbook is thus to provide policy-makers as well as other regional and urban practitioners and policy actors with an accessible step-by-step guidance and inspiration on inter-regional or inter-city knowledge transfer in the field of circular economy and resource management.

2. A co-creative knowledge transfer methodology

In the REPAiR project, the main platform for knowledge transfer is the Peri-Urban Living Laboratory (PULL). The PULL allows to observe how eco-innovative ideas are co-created and then are travelling among different actors and places with different (disciplinary and socio-cultural) backgrounds and finally, how they are further discussed with local stakeholders in order to adapt entirely or partly.

PULL as –  it is defined in REPAiR project – is physical and virtual environments, in which public-private-people partnerships experiment with an iterative (co-creation) method to develop innovations (Eco-innovative Solutions/EISs) responding to the case-specific challenges.  The process includes the involvement of end users too. REPAiR implements LLs for six European Peri-Urban Areas: the Peri-Urban Living Labs (PULLs) (see more details on PULLs in D5.1 of REPAiR project),

During PULLs, the so called “knowledge transfer event” – as a separate workshop – entitled the discussion of adaptability of (EISs) elaborated in other case study areas.

(Eco-Innovation refers to all forms of innovation – technological and nontechnological – that create business opportunities and benefit the environment by preventing or reducing the environmental impact, or by optimizing the use of resourcesOther than products, if we speak about services, they cannot be seen, tasted, touched, or smelled; a service can be an activity, a performance, or an object; it can be included in a product (D5.1 of REPAiR project).

 

2.1 Outline of the methodology

The methodology described here is the result of the co-contribution of WP5 (organiser of PULLs) leaders, the results of the research in WP3 (processes in the case study areas). The methodology has been tested and refined (based on the feedback) in six PULLs (in Amsterdam, Naples, Ghent, Hamburg, Łódź and Pécs). Based on this experience we made a step-by-step methodology as a guidance in order to successfully transfer EISs from one place to another. Although this methodology derived from the REPAiR project, the aim of this guideline is to give a clue for reuse the steps in other cases and topics where EISs are targeted to transfer from one place to another. So, as in the methodology can be seen, follow the steps then adapt the methodology to your case 🙂