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Swiss Competence Center for Energy Research (SCCER CREST)

WP1: Group on Energy Entrepreneurship and Future Innovation Dynamics

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The Competence Center for Research in Energy, Society and Transition - CREST contributes to the energy transition in Switzerland by providing detailed, evidence-based recommendations on policies that help to reduce energy demand, foster innovation, and increase the share of renewables in a cost-efficient way. It covers the complete action area “economy, environment, law and behavior” with four lines of research that develop innovative concepts for energy policy, provide an in-depth analysis of drivers and barriers to energy efficiency, produce detailed strategies that help firms and regions in adjusting to the new energy system, and develop novel assessment tools for policies and technological solutions.

The SCCER CREST brings together research groups from almost all major Swiss research institutions and fills important gaps in the research landscape.

WP1: Group on Energy Entrepreneurship and Future Innovation Dynamics: The basis for a thorough understanding of the future innovation dynamics in the Swiss energy sector is an analysis of (i) how key actors include information concerning the highly uncertain development of the energy system into their decisions, and (ii) the capabilities needed on both organizational and personal levels for collaborating and becoming successful innovators. Thus, this task focuses on the role of start-ups collaborating with both incumbent and new actors in delivering future innovations that transform the Swiss energy sector. The key activities of this task will be based on the maintenance and expansion of the data-base of Swiss energy start-ups (Wemyss and Blumer, 2015). On that basis, we analyze different innovation patterns in the energy sector with an emphasis on the start-up perspective. We will be able to draw from both quantitative (in particular surveys with entrepreneurs) and qualitative (i.e. a series of case studies, including interviews) methods. This complements the insights of Task 1.2., which focuses on the incumbent perspective, and yields insights into different innovation strategies that emerge on the interface between incumbents and start-ups, such as forms of open innovation (Chesbrough, 2003). This also highlights crucial capabilities needed for successful innovation (e.g. collaboration between utilities and ICT companies in the context of smart grids). In addition, there will be cross-cutting research to better understand how key decision makers within the energy system integrate information about uncertain future developments into their decisions relevant to innovation. These insights will complement WP 3.3 by allowing for a better assessment of the impact of energy scenarios on different actors. A series of workshops with experts in industry and policy-making will help synthesizing the insights of this task in a form that is useful for practice. In parallel to our research, activities together with cooperation partners such as the Impact Hub Zurich aiming to support and incubate entrepreneurial initiatives within and outside the SCCERs will be expanded (e.g. Energy Start-Up Day, educational case studies).

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