EU Project Hydro4UInnovation Management in EU-Projects - Small hydropower for Central Asia
A look into the world of European project cooperation. How does innovation management work?
The European Commission funds project consortia with the aim of promoting Europe's innovative strength and bringing innovations to the European market more quickly and establishing them in a sustainable way. As an expert, moderator and catalyst for innovation management, Steinbeis Europa Zentrum accompanies and supports the project partners during the project.
"Starting at the application stage, we already act as enablers. Furthermore, if desired, we accompany the development of solutions and innovations on the way to a successful market launch also as a project partner. Our systematic approach makes it possible to work with partners to develop solid exploitation strategies, action plans and business models for commercially exploitable project results," says Project Manager Isabelle Dubreuilh, Steinbeis Europa Zentrum. Intellectual property management also plays an important role in this. "Through purpose-driven knowledge transfer and solution-oriented exchange, we enable the partners to adequately protect their project results for later exploitation."
The challenge lies mainly in the complexity of the different expectations and goals of the individual partners. The number of the partners involved in EU projects ranges from 10 to 40 European and international partners from several countries.
Example: Hydro4U | Hydropower For You - Sustainable Small Hydropower for Central Asia (Horizon 2020, Innovation Action, Duration: 06/2021 - 05/2026).
There is significant potential for small hydropower solutions in Central Asia that is currently not being exploited. The EU Hydro4U project is taking a new way of cooperative cross-sectoral water management to meet the existing demand for electricity. Innovative, modular and standardised solutions for medium and low pressure applications are being implemented. In addition to direct market access for the 13 project partners from eight countries, Hydro4U supports innovation management on the way to accessing the Central Asian market for the entire European hydropower sector.
In Hydro4U, European technologies are adapted to the needs of Central Asia and their future applicability in transboundary water-food-energy-climate nexus is demonstrated. Based on previous analyses of unused small hydropower potential, a modular design of the power plants was chosen that ensures competitiveness. The aim is to keep planning and construction costs as low as possible through modularisation and standardisation, meaning a fundamentally simplified structural concept without compromising efficiency. Moreover, aspects such as sustainability, environmental compatibility and social acceptance play an important role as well.
Two demonstration hydropower plants are being built and evaluated in Central Asia: an ecological low head shaft hydropower plant and a medium head hydropower plant.
- Francis Container Power Solution - a standardised and modular medium head solution: in Hydro4U, the structure of the hydropower plant is drastically reduced by eliminating the traditional power plant and placing the turbine in a prefabricated container.
- Hydro Shaft Power Solution - a modular shaft hydropower solution with a fish-friendly design: developed by TU Munich, this innovative and sustainable concept combines efficient power generation with consideration for the river ecosystem. It is further optimised within Hydro4U through pre-assembled modules.
Market access through replication in Central Asia
A replication model taking into account the water-food-energy-climate nexus will be developed in a forward-looking manner for sustainable use of small hydropower potential in Central Asia. The technologies will meet European quality standards in order to open up new markets for the entire European small hydropower industry. Thanks to a web-based decision-making system, the effects of these innovations will extend beyond the project period. It will support future investors in assessing a suitable location based on facts.
In Hydro4U, partners from both Central Asia and the European Union are working together on project implementation to contribute to sustainable and environmentally friendly energy production for Central Asia through scientifically supported activities and the testing of technological solutions. Close cooperation between all stakeholders and investors involved is an essential aspect of Hydro4U. The different expertise of the partners (including industry, science, politics) leads to diverse perspectives on the interrelationships between ecology, technology and society, which have to be taken into account in innovation management, especially in exploitation strategies.
Steinbeis Europa Zentrum accompanies innovation processes
Steinbeis Europa Zentrum supported the Technical University of Munich, which is coordinating the project, from the very beginning, starting from the project conception phase with the 11 other partners from the EU and Central Asia and assisted them in the application process. This cooperation is now continuing after the project has been accepted. Steinbeis Europa Zentrum is supporting the innovation management and exploitation pathways within the project.
"We are working systematically with the project partners to describe the innovative results in terms of content, define the exploitation intentions and clarify ownership and access rights," says Project Manager Isabelle Dubreuilh, Steinbeis Europa Zentrum. The diverse viewpoints of the participants on the innovations also play an important role. With their different expertise, the project partners develop very good approaches to solutions for the common challenges. For example, Steinbeis Europa Zentrum organised interactive pitching sessions on individual project results. In a pitch, each partner organisation had presented its favoured project outcome and the associated challenges to the consortium. The feedback from different viewpoints and the targeted exchange released further synergies between the partners and the pitching sessions have encountered a very positive response from the partners.
This collaborative approach is promoted throughout the project by Steinbeis Europa Zentrum. In a further collaborative process, the most promising project results are selected in the course of the project. Small working groups will then analyse different aspects of these project results, for instance the Central Asian framework conditions for market entry and work out adequate business models. In these groups, the future steps and responsibilities for a successful exploitation of the project results are also defined.
Project website Hydro4U: Hydro4U
„In Central Asia, there is a variety of irrigation canals and existing transverse structures in the rivers that show great potential for small hydropower plants. The construction of two reference plants in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan as part of the Hydro4U project is a good opportunity for us to present our hydropower technologies. Hydro4U offers us a large media reach and we expect a corresponding market feedback. The project helps us to expand our product portfolio and to offer solutions for differentiated customer requests, also in the micro and small hydro sector.“Thomas Eder, Global Hydro, Austria, Partner in Hydro4U for the development and production of turnkey small hydropower plants