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Challenges and Opportunities of Modular water Infrastructures for Greening the Swiss Economy (COMIX)

English title Challenges and Opportunities of Modular water Infrastructures for Greening the Swiss Economy (COMIX)
Applicant Truffer Bernhard
Number 172366
Funding scheme NRP 73 Sustainable Economy
Research institution Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (EAWAG)
Institution of higher education Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology - EAWAG
Main discipline Social geography and ecology
Start/End 01.01.2018 - 28.02.2022
Approved amount 645'928.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Social geography and ecology
Civil Engineering

Keywords (4)

urban water management; lead market strategy; modular infrastructures; sustainability transitions

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Wir untersuchen die Herausforderungen modularer Infrastruktursysteme für die Schweizer Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft. Die Frage wird am Beispiel der Siedlungswasserwirtschaft durchgespielt.
Lay summary

Hintergrund
Modulare Wasserinfrastrukturen ermöglichen es, Versorgungdienstleistungen auf fundamental neue Arten bereitzustellen. Die Nachhaltigkeit solcher Entwicklungen ist aber weitgehend unklar. Gerade im Bereich der Siedlungswasserwirtschaft bestehen Risiken von Fehlinvestitionen. Umgekehrt kann sich ein Verpassen der Entwicklungstrends für Kommunen und Versorgungsbetriebe als kostspielig erweisen, wie es der Stromsektor in den letzten Jahren eindrücklich gezeigt hat.

Ziel
In industrieller Hinsicht untersuchen wir, ob und wie Schweizer Firmen künftig eine international führende Rolle im Bereich modularer Wasserinfrastrukturen spielen könnten. Im Bereich der Entsorgungsverantwortung fragen wir, wie sich die Akteure auf mögliche Szenarien vorbereiten können. Die beiden Fragestellungen führen wir schliesslich zusammen, um zu beurteilen, ob die Schweiz eine Vorreiterrolle in der Umsetzung modularer Konzepte einnehmen kann und soll.

Bedeutung
Das Projekt wird von Forschenden der Eawag, der ETH Zürich und der Beratungsfirma Ecoplan betrieben und beinhaltet eine enge Zusammenarbeit mit Praxisakteuren aus Industrie, Versorgungsunternehmen, Verbänden und Behörden. Die Kompetenzen der verschiedenen Praxisexperten werden mit wissenschaftlichen Erkenntnissen aus Volkswirtschaftslehre, Politikwissenschaften, Wirtschaftsgeographie und Innovationsforschung verbunden.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 27.02.2018

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
Nous étudions les défis rencontrés dans le cas des systèmes d'infrastructures modulaires pour l'économie et la société suisses. Pour ce faire, nous examinons l’exemple de la gestion des eaux urbaines.
Lay summary

Contexte
Les infrastructures modulaires permettent d'assurer des services d’approvisionnement d’une manière fondamentalement nouvelle. Cependant, la durabilité de tels services reste floue. Cela est vrai en particulier dans le domaine de la gestion des eaux urbaines, où il existe des risques de mauvais investissements. Inversement, ne pas tenir compte des tendances en matière de développement peut s’avérer coûteux pour les collectivités et les services publics, comme l'a montré le secteur de l'électricité ces dernières années.

Objectifs
Nous cherchons à savoir si les entreprises suisses seraient dorénavant en mesure de jouer un rôle de premier plan sur la scène industrielle internationale en matière d’infrastructures modulaires et, si tel est le cas, de quelle manière. Nous nous demandons en outre, comment les acteurs peuvent se préparer aux différents scénarios possibles. Enfin, nous réunissons ces questions pour évaluer si la Suisse peut et doit jouer un rôle de pionnier dans la mise en œuvre de concepts modulaires.

Importance
Le projet est dirigé par des chercheurs de l'Eawag, de l'EPF Zurich et de l'entreprise de conseil Ecoplan. Il est mené en collaboration étroite avec des professionnels de l'industrie, des services publics, des associations et des autorités. Les compétences des différents professionnels du milieu seront conjuguées aux connaissances scientifiques des domaines de l'économie, de la science politique, de la géographie économique et de la recherche en innovation.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 27.02.2018

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
We are identifying the challenges of modular infrastructure systems for the Swiss economy and society. This issue is to be explored using the example of urban water management.
Lay summary

Background
Modular water infrastructure systems make it possible to provide supply services in fundamentally new ways. However, the sustainability of such developments is largely unclear. Particularly in the area of urban water management there are risks of making bad investments. Conversely, overlooking development trends for municipalities and utility companies could prove costly, as the electricity sector has shown impressively in recent years.

Aims
From an industrial point of view, we are investigating whether and how Swiss companies can play a leading role internationally in the area of modular water infrastructure. In the area of waste management responsibility, we are asking how the involved players can prepare themselves for possible scenarios. We then aim to combine both these questions in order to assess whether Switzerland can and should play a pioneering role in the implementation of modular concepts.

Importance
The project will be run by researchers from Eawag, the ETH Zurich, and consulting firm Ecoplan, and will involve close cooperation with practitioners from industry, utility companies, associations and authorities. The know-how of the various experts will be combined with scientific insights from the fields of economics, political science, economic geography and innovation research.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 27.02.2018

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Project partner

Publications

Publication
Overcoming the harmony fallacy: How values shape the course of innovation systems
Heiberg Jonas, Truffer Bernhard (2022), Overcoming the harmony fallacy: How values shape the course of innovation systems, in Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, 42, 411-428.
Assessing transitions through socio-technical configuration analysis – a methodological framework and a case study in the water sector
Heiberg Jonas, Truffer Bernhard, Binz Christian (2022), Assessing transitions through socio-technical configuration analysis – a methodological framework and a case study in the water sector, in Research Policy, 51(1), 104363-104363.
The Geography of Technology Legitimation: How Multiscalar Institutional Dynamics Matter for Path Creation in Emerging Industries
Heiberg Jonas, Binz Christian, Truffer Bernhard (2020), The Geography of Technology Legitimation: How Multiscalar Institutional Dynamics Matter for Path Creation in Emerging Industries, in Economic Geography, 96(5), 470-498.
A Research Agenda for the Future of Urban Water Management: Exploring the Potential of Nongrid, Small-Grid, and Hybrid Solutions
Hoffmann Sabine, Feldmann Ulrike, Bach Peter M., Binz Christian, Farrelly Megan, Frantzeskaki Niki, Hiessl Harald, Inauen Jennifer, Larsen Tove A., Lienert Judit, Londong Jörg, Lüthi Christoph, Maurer Max, Mitchell Cynthia, Morgenroth Eberhard, Nelson Kara L., Scholten Lisa, Truffer Bernhard, Udert Kai M. (2020), A Research Agenda for the Future of Urban Water Management: Exploring the Potential of Nongrid, Small-Grid, and Hybrid Solutions, in Environmental Science & Technology, 54(9), 5312-5322.
Policy instrument mixes for operating modular technology within hybrid water systems
Pakizer Katrin, Fischer Manuel, Lieberherr Eva (2020), Policy instrument mixes for operating modular technology within hybrid water systems, in Environmental Science & Policy, 105, 120-133.
Eine globale Schweizer Wasserpolitik. Internationale Verhandlungen zum Nachhaltigkeitsziel 6 und dessen Umsetzung im Ausland
MathysN, PärliP, LieberherrE, FischerM (2019), Eine globale Schweizer Wasserpolitik. Internationale Verhandlungen zum Nachhaltigkeitsziel 6 und dessen Umsetzung im Ausland, 99(5), 24-28.
Alternative governance arrangements for modular water infrastructure: An exploratory review
Pakizer Katrin, Lieberherr Eva (2018), Alternative governance arrangements for modular water infrastructure: An exploratory review, in Competition and Regulation in Network Industries, 19(1-2), 53-68.

Datasets

The Georgaphy of Technology Legitimation - database

Author Heiberg, Jonas
Publication date 06.11.2019
Persistent Identifier (PID) 10.5281/zenodo.3530364
Repository zenodo
Abstract
Dataset created with help discourse network analyser (DNA, Leifeld, P. 2018. Discourse Network Analyser Manual) adapted to the study of the geography of technology legitimation

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Cluster for Research on Innovation and Development, Department of Business and Management, Aalborg U Denmark (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Exchange of personnel
ITD Cluster, ESS, Eawag Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
CAS TPP at ETH Individual talk Technology, Society, Markets, and the State 29.01.2022 Zürich, Switzerland Truffer Bernhard;
Environmental Politics Online Seminar Series (EPOSS) Talk given at a conference Policy sequencing for transitioning toward sustainable urban water management 02.12.2021 online, Switzerland Pakizer Katrin;
INTRANSIT- Innovation Policy for Industrial Transformation, Sustainability and Digitalization - Method Workshop Individual talk Using two-mode networks to study socio-technical transitions: reflections on DNA and STCA 27.10.2021 Oslo (digital), Norway Truffer Bernhard; Heiberg Jonas;
Invited Seminar talk at the University of Freiburg Individual talk «Measuring» Transition Dynamics: 20.10.2021 Freiburg, Germany Truffer Bernhard;
Eawag Cirus-Pego Network Analysis Workshop Individual talk Using two-mode networks to study socio-technical transitions: reflections on DNA and STCA 11.10.2021 Dübendorf, Switzerland Heiberg Jonas; Truffer Bernhard;
12th International Sustainability Transitions Conference - Special panel discussion Talk given at a conference Toward a new methodological paradigm in transition studies? 08.10.2021 Karlsruhe, Germany Truffer Bernhard; Heiberg Jonas;
12th International Sustainability Transitions Conference (IST2021) Talk given at a conference Policy sequencing for transitioning toward sustainable urban water management 05.10.2021 Karlsruhe, online, Germany Pakizer Katrin;
IÖR Jahrestatung Talk given at a conference Challenges (and Opportunities) of Regional Infrastructure Transitions: The case of urban water management 23.09.2021 Dresden, Germany Truffer Bernhard;
5th International Conference on Public Policy (ICPP5) Talk given at a conference Policy sequencing for transitioning toward sustainable urban water management 05.07.2021 Barcelona, online, Spain Pakizer Katrin;
Scientific Workshop#4: Agence Française de Dévelopmement Talk given at a conference New Perspectives on Sustainable Sanitation: Insights from socio-technical innovation and transition studies 06.05.2021 Paris, France Truffer Bernhard;
Fraunhofer ISI Seminarreihe Individual talk Mapping and measuring socio-technical transition dynamics by means of discourse network analysis 10.10.2020 Karlsruhe, Germany Truffer Bernhard;
12th International Sustainability Transitions Conference Talk given at a conference Overcoming the harmony fallacy 05.10.2020 Karlsruhe (online), Germany Heiberg Jonas;
European Consortium for Policy Research (ECPR) General Conference Talk given at a conference Transitioning the Swiss wastewater sector 27.08.2020 Innsbruck, online, Austria Pakizer Katrin;
11th International Sustainability Transitions Conference Talk given at a conference Assessing transition with socio-technical configuration analysis 18.08.2020 Vienna (digital), Austria Truffer Bernhard; Heiberg Jonas;
36th EGOS Colloquium Talk given at a conference Assessing transitions with socio-technical configuration analysis 02.07.2020 Hamburg (online), Germany Truffer Bernhard; Heiberg Jonas;
6th Annual Conference of Environmental Policy and Governance Conference (EPG) Talk given at a conference Institutional entrepreneurs transitioning the Swiss wastewater sector 24.06.2020 Kleivstua, online, Norway Pakizer Katrin;
INternational STRN PhD conference NEST Talk given at a conference Why Bother about the Geography of Sustainability Transitions? 08.05.2020 Dübendorf, Switzerland Truffer Bernhard;
5th Geography of Innovation Conference Talk given at a conference The Geography of Technology Legitimation 29.01.2020 Stavanger, Norway Heiberg Jonas;
UFZ special lectures series Individual talk Sustainability Transitions in Urban Water: Inroads from a social science perspective 01.10.2019 Leipzig, Germany Truffer Bernhard;
4th International Conference on Public Policy (ICPP4) Talk given at a conference Let’s go modular: Governance conditions for implementing alternative water systems 27.06.2019 Montréal, Canada Pakizer Katrin;
WEST Water & Environment Student Talks Talk given at a conference Variations in water governance: Policy instrument mixes for operating hybrid water systems 14.06.2019 Vancouver, Canada Pakizer Katrin;
5th annual Duck Family Graduate Workshop Talk given at a conference Governing hybrid systems: Governance arrangements for decentralized and centralized infrastructures 15.05.2019 Seattle, United States of America Pakizer Katrin;
International Workshop "Innovation-Based Regional Restructuring and New Path Development: New Avenues for Research and Policy Talk given at a conference The Geography of Legitimation 26.02.2019 Vienna, Austria Heiberg Jonas; Truffer Bernhard;
Dreiländertagung - SPSA Annual Conference Talk given at a conference Let’s go modular: Governance arrangements for hybrid water systems 16.02.2019 Zurich, Switzerland Lieberherr Eva; Pakizer Katrin;
14th Interantional Graduate Conference Talk given at a conference Let’s go modular: Governance conditions for implementing alternative water systems 12.12.2018 Jerusalem, Israel Pakizer Katrin;
Gestion intégrée des eaux: enjeux entre société et nature Talk given at a conference Water provision in Germany and Switzerland: cases of public and private management 06.12.2018 Lausanne, Switzerland Lieberherr Eva;
International PhD course on Economic Geography, Utrecht University Talk given at a conference Multi-Scalar Valuation Processes and Regional Path Creation 10.09.2018 Utrecht, Netherlands Heiberg Jonas;
2018 European Group for Public Administration Conference Talk given at a conference Modular infrastructures and new regulatory landscapes: Implications for accountability and legitimacy 04.09.2018 Lausanne, Switzerland Lieberherr Eva;
5th Global Conference in Economic Geography Talk given at a conference Approaching multi-scalar systems of resource mobilisation 24.07.2018 Köln, Germany Heiberg Jonas; Truffer Bernhard;
7th Biennial Conference of ECPR Standing Group on Regulatory Governance – Regulation between Effectiveness and Legitimacy Talk given at a conference Modular infrastructures and new regulatory landscapes: Implications for accountability and legitimacy 04.07.2018 Lausanne, Switzerland Lieberherr Eva;
7th Conference on the Regulation of Infrastructures Talk given at a conference Alternative Governance Arrangements for Modular Water Infrastructure: A Systematic Review 21.06.2018 Florenz, Italy Pakizer Katrin;
9th International Sustainability Transitions Conference Talk given at a conference Operationalising system resource mobilization in Global Innovation Systems 12.06.2018 Manchester, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Truffer Bernhard; Heiberg Jonas;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
“Water Infrastructure Reforms" Panel at the virtual ECPR general conference August 2020 27.08.2020 Online, Austria

Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
WEST Conference, University of British Columbia, Canada Talk 11.06.2021 Online, Canada Lieberherr Eva;
WEST conference, University of British Columbia, Canada Talk 24.09.2020 Vancouver, Switzerland Truffer Bernhard;
Lippuner Fachtagung Wasser 2018 Talk 15.11.2018 Thun, Switzerland Lieberherr Eva; Pakizer Katrin;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
International Workshop: Non-grid solutions for the future of urban water management: The path forward 14.03.2018 Monte Verità, Switzerland

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
205912 Transformation toward resilient ecosystems: bridging natural and social sciences (TREBRIDGE) 01.06.2022 Sinergia
107157 Regional infrastructure foresight (RIF) - transition management for the sanitation sector 01.07.2005 NRP 54 Sustainable Development of the Built Environment

Abstract

The COMIX project aims at analyzing opportunities and challenges of a Swiss Sustainable Economy, which are associated with a foreseeable fundamental shift towards more modular system designs in many infrastructure sectors. The analysis will primarily be focused on the Swiss urban water management sector, scrutinizing impacts on Swiss industry, utilities, professional associations and regulators. The case of urban water management is particularly well suited to analyze these challenges due to strong path dependencies and considerable impacts on sustainable futures globally. The core research questions that will be analyzed in the project relate to in how far the challenges and opportunities of modular infrastructures could represent a first mover advantage for Swiss industry and a strategic chance to anticipate future system configurations for Swiss operators and regulators and in how far synergies between these two aspects could be identified. This is synthesized in a hypothesis about a so called lead market potential in Switzerland. The proposal is subdivided into two research streams and a synthesis module. The first stream aims at understanding opportunities for Swiss water companies in the context of global industry dynamics associated with modular water technologies. It assesses the success conditions at both innovation systems and at company level. The second stream identifies challenges and opportunities that modular infrastructures represent for utilities, professional associations, consultancies and government departments, which are responsible for planning and operating UWM structures. More specifically, the project will conduct an encompassing cost benefit analyses of alternative transition scenarios from today’s mostly centralized system configuration towards future more hybrid forms. Furthermore, alternative governance arrangements will be elaborated and assessed that would enable running hybrid system configurations at a similar level of performance like the incumbent system. The synthesis module integrates results from the two analytical streams by assessing the lead market potential for. COMIX is conceived as an inter- and transdisciplinary project run by research teams from various disciplines such as management, economic geography, political science, economics and engineering. Additionally representatives from industry, utilities, professional associations and government will be involved in several sequences of participative workshops. The project addresses a large number of relevant topics listed under modules 2 and 3 of the NRP 73 call.
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