Fab Region

Transformation of the Bergische City Triangle into a Circular Economy Region

Societal transformations toward greater sustainability are urgently needed in order to counteract environmental, economic, and social threats stemming from climate change, biodiversity loss, or resource depletion. Cities and regions can be key promoters and enablers of the circular and sustainable transformation as they are the governance units that are closest to the citizens and other relevant actors.

The project Fab Region in the Bergische City triangle aims to operationalise the major transformation tasks towards a collaborative circular economy and to develop a clear strategic action plan. The project is inspired by and draws on the work of the international Fab City Initiative, a platform that brings together 52 cities worldwide and the Fab Lab Network, an open and creative community space of more than 1500 Fab Labs. The project not only aims to implement the transformation principle of the “Fab Cities” in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) for the first time, but also to transfer it to an entire economic region.

The cities of the Bergische city-triangle, Wuppertal, Solingen and Remscheid, have been chosen as ‘innovation locations’ that will drive the development and implementation of the learning formats and also act as incubators for piloting solutions on a local level.

The selected cities have a high industrial density and production ratio. The companies based in the region still work in long and, above all, global supply chains. The resulting disadvantages are dependencies, supply bottlenecks and high resource consumption. The Bergische city-triangle currently lacks regional economic resilience. The number of companies pursuing a circular economy approach is lower than that of conventional companies. At the same time, there has been a decline in jobs in (urban) material production. The Fab Region project addresses these challenges and transfers the “Fab City” approach to the region.

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

The CSCP will contribute its expertise to the project in the following areas:

  • Analysis and conceptualisation of Fab Region structures and strategy: Among others, this encompasses the analysis of the circular economy ecosystem such as projects and stakeholders as well as sectors and circular economy or sustainability initiatives, the formulation of a shared vision for the region as well as an action plan to achieve it
  • Co-Creation in Fab Lab real-world laboratories: This encompasses applying existing, global learning formats in the region, developing new, region-specific learning formats as well as developing and conducting test pilots. One of the focus points for the CSCP will be to intertwine the overall topic of sustainability into the solutions
  • International, national and regional networking: This covers both networking activities in the global Fab Community as well as networking with actors beyond this community – ranging from regional and local players to national and international ones. Particularly, the connection to key players in the economy will play a vital role in this work package to achieve a high-scale and therefore high impact of the solutions
  • Communication and scale: The activities in this work package are threefold – communicate, scale and build a community. The project aims to reach high visibility with the target audience and engage them to scale solutions and build a community around the different actions

During its three-year course, Fab Region project aims to achieve the following:

  • Initiate a ‘FAB Region’ in the Bergische city-triangle as a ‘permanent intervention’ and establish the related working structures
  • Develop a joint regional vision and strategic action plan
  • Establish a regional community and corresponding communication formats and platforms
  • Apply global learning formats and develop region-specific learning ones
  • Connect existing innovation and production locations with each other through the implementation of co-creation test pilots and joint learning formats
  • Identify relevant metrics and models for different sectors

The project is part of the EFRE/JTF-Programm Nordrhein-Westfalen 2021-2027 of the NRW Ministry of Economy. It is implemented by the CSCP in collaboration with Gut Einern e.V., SEG Solingen GmbH & Co. KG, Gründerschmiede Remscheid e.V., IAT – Westfälische Hochschule Gelsenkirchen, Bergische Universität Wuppertal, the The Wuppertal Institute . The FAB.Region project is led by Bergische Struktur- und Wirtschaftsförderungsgesellschaft GmbH.