The Fab Region Project Has Kicked-Off: Accelerating the Transition Toward a Sustainable and Co-Creative Circular Economy Region

Cities and regions can play a strategic role in unlocking the potential of circular economy in order to accelerate the sustainable transformation. But how can relevant actors on a city level be brought together to spearhead this transformation in a whole region? What formats and approaches are needed? How can successful innovative solutions be scaled to increase positive impact?

Our new project, Fab Region in the Bergische city-triangle will support the cities of Wuppertal, Solingen, and Remscheid in North-Rhine Westphalia (NRW), Germany, to develop, pilot and implement sustainable and collaborative circular economy approaches with scale-up potential. Drawing inspiration from the global Fab City initiative and the related Fab Lab network, the project aims to introduce the transformation principles of “Fab Cities” to local innovation centres in the Bergische city-triangle, and from there to the economic region.

Fab City is an innovative urban model that re-localises production to the city and its bioregional context by empowering communities with the technologies, skills and knowledge to build their own sustainable, innovative, and regenerative urban futures.

The three-year project, which launched in January 2024, will be carried out by a consortium of different regional partners from the fields of business, innovation, and academia. It includes innovation centres in each of the three cities, which will become Fab Labs. These innovation centres act as catalysts for the creation of learning formats and as incubators for piloting solutions. This is where the Fab Region project will co-create region-specific and global learning formats for sustainable circular economy approaches as well as support key actors to create a shared vision for the region, paving the way for a vibrant regional community.

The project strives to connect existing innovation and production locations and networks with businesses and civil society in the region and beyond as it aims to become an official Fab Region, actively contribute to the international Fab City community, and share knowledge beyond regional borders.

Furthermore, in order to scale the project’s impact from the innovation centres to the economic region, the project partners will identify a number of relevant industries and sectors for which transformation strategies will be developed. In these industries and sectors the project aims to co-create and empower possible solutions. Metrics and measurements will be identified to evaluate the scientific impact of the project along the way.

Today, the Bergische city triangle tends to operate within long global supply chains, resulting in dependencies, supply bottlenecks and excessive resource consumption. The region is known for its high industrial density and production ratio. There is a lack of regional economic resilience, with sustainable circular businesses playing a limited role.

The Fab Region project addresses these challenges by adopting and applying the ‘Fab City’ approach to the region. The Collaborating Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production (CSCP) will contribute its expertise to analysing the current sustainable circular economy ecosystem and formulating a shared vision and action plan accordingly; co-creating the Fab Lab innovation centres to pilot solutions; enabling international, national and regional networking; and communicating and scaling the project’s solutions and learnings.

The project is part of the EFRE/JTF-Programm Nordrhein-Westfalen 2021-2027 of the NRW Ministry of Economy. For additional information, please visit the Fab Region project page.

For further questions, please contact Philipp Ober.