The following session descriptions are not a definitive or exhaustive list of topics for discussion, and different angles or topics related to the session themes are highly welcome. Please indicate which session you see as the best fit for your paper when submitting.

Session 1
Green and digital change: Promoting cultural and behavioural changes in society

For a complete green and digital change to happen, cultural and behavioural changes in society are essential. We, as a society, need to re-order our priorities and change our daily habits, putting sustainability above our individual interests. How can STPs, AOIs and their companies help facilitate these changes? 

What role can they play in introducing new green & digital values and solutions into general society? Can they help make people fall in love with green and digital at the personal micro-choice level? Should they? 

Change powered by technology and digitalization is much more common in strong innovation ecosystems, and residents and other stakeholders are easier to influence when promoting changes, because change is inseparable from innovation. How can STPs and AOIs take advantage of this “experience in change”?  

This session could include discussion of how STPs/AOIs can increase awareness and take up of digital tools and tech solutions which will make a postive impact. AOIs and innovation districts are closely engaged with local citizens; can they leverage this connection to drive earlier adoption? New management models that can also help spur green and digital change could also be explored in this session, along with the role of STPs and AOIs in evidence-based policy making, via setting metrics, gathering evidence of social impact and providing options to policy makers.

Session 2
Driving sustainable mobility: New solutions for urban transportation 

In their capacity as connectors of research, business, the public sector and wider society, STPs/AOIs can play a key role fostering the development of new, sustainable and more integrated mobility solutions. 

Research indicates that private car journeys currently represent just over half of all trips made in major cities, but will sink to 46% by 2030, while trips made on public transport, bicycle or on foot will all rise to reach a combined 49% of city journeys over the same period, creating a global “tipping point” towards sustainable travel. 

In this session, we invite contributions exploring initiatives in STPs/AOIs around the world to research and develop these new transport solutions at a local and regional level. Authors are welcome to explore topics such as electric and autonomous vehicles, the integration of intermodal transport systems, green public transport initiatives, STPs and AOIs as testbeds for new mobility solutions, micro mobility roll outs and new bike lanes, and other green transport modes relying on renewable energy sources.

Session 3
Green design and infrastructure of science parks and areas of innovation 

This session will explore the design and infrastructure of STPs/AOIs themselves, and how they can lead the way implementing green and digital best practices. What strategies can STPs/AOIs adopt to become low carbon/carbon neutral sites? How can they plan operations in a cluster so that all activities become zero waste?

This session could include discussion, case studies and best practice examples of green architecture, design and construction within the physical environment of STPs/AOIs, and the role of climate resilient infrastructure to mitigate climate risks and ensure the provision of reliable services.

Session 4
Energy performance: Positive Energy Districts 

As connectors of stakeholders across communities, cities and regions, innovation ecosystems have a key role to play in large-scale energy projects that rely on collaboration and cooperation, and which contribute to SDG 7, affordable and clean energy.

Positive energy districts (PEDs), also known as net zero communities or zero carbon energy districts, are energy-efficient and energy-flexible urban areas that produce at least as much energy on an annual basis as they consume. They require interaction and integration between buildings, the users and the regional energy producers, mobility and ICT systems to provide low-carbon solutions that will benefit both neighbourhoods and citizens.

PEDs could play a big role in peak shaving, load balancing and increasing self-consumption of renewables, but to be successful they need the involvement and collaboration of multiple stakeholders such as city authorities, real estate planners, investors, innovators and citizens. How can AOIs and STPs help engage and work with multiple stakeholders to create such districts? Can they work as conveners and facilitators to get the process in motion?

Session 5
Innovation ecosystems and the circular economy 

STPs & AOIs are ideally placed to help businesses work together to optimize the use of resources, in terms of sustainability and circular economy. Waste from one company can provide the raw material or energy for another via industrial symbiosis, offering economic benefits as well as contributing to sustainable development: analysis of their resident companies’ processes allows STPs/AOIs to become test-beds for these approaches in defined ecosystems. This session will explore the role of innovation ecosystems in building a zero-waste circular economy within their organisations, innovation communities and in society as a whole, working to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns in line with SDG 12.

Session 6
Driving smart city development

Smart Sustainable Cities are associated with the use of digital technologies for energy efficiency, improved mobility and better quality of life indicators, as well as in making a location highly attractive to talent and foreign investments. This session will explore the key role STPs/AOIs can play in implementing and strengthening smart city initiatives and other actions to drive SDG 11, enabling economies of scale, connecting key stakeholders from companies, government, academia and wider society, offering quality spaces and driving a continuous flow of innovation into the city.

Session 7
Green & digital startups and scaleups 

A greener society needs greener companies. How can STPs, AOIs and incubators promote the creation and consolidation of greener and more sustainable startups that are likely to scale? Are there niche areas where innovation ecosystems can build incubator and accelerator programmes to support emerging green & digital technologies and needs?

This and other company oriented questions on how to better support entrepreneurs in driving green and digital change are welcomed for this session.

Session 8
Future-proof jobs and skills training for the digital transition

Skills are key for sustainable competitiveness, resilience and ensuring social fairness for all. Businesses need workers with the skills required to master the green and digital transitions, and people need to be able to get the right education and training to thrive. 

Having the right skills for strategic sectors to perform and for individuals to navigate through life is essential. The pandemic has accentuated the need for digital skills: at least 85% of jobs require some level of digital ability, while only 56% of adults had at least basic digital skills in 2019. What role can innovation ecosystems play to improve this? How can the different actors of innovation ecosystems work together to ensure a pool of future talent for their companies, and quality jobs in their communities?

Session 9
Building digital capacity: STPs and AOIs supporting digitalisation

Strengthening digital infrastructure helps companies to become smarter, better meet customer needs and stay competitive. How can STPs & AOIs support increased digitalisation in their companies, and promote constant digital improvement of both their resident companies and their cities & regions?

How can they seize and maintain a leading role on digital ideas, developments, products, and services, for the creation of stakeholders’ value, while fostering talent capture and retention?

Session 10
Best practices in resident companies: Cross-sector highlights 

Authors are invited to share best practices from resident companies across a range of different sectors, from the smallest startups to the biggest multinationals, universities and research organisations. 

What does green and digital best practice look like in different industries (life sciences vs new materials; ICT vs engineering)? Are there different trends in best practice in large organisations and small organisations? How about the global picture and examples of international collaborations that foster green and digital change at a broader level? Can STPs & AOIs work as fast tracks for innovation-based companies to collaborate globally, facilitating support and connections in peer communities around the world?

Session 11
STPs/AOIs and their ethics in the green and digital revolutions

The advances of the Green and Digital Revolutions are confronting us with ethical questions that can’t be ignored, even though some are still little noticed or very vaguely outlined. We want to take the opportunity to contrast global perspectives on some of these ethical challenges and how they may be seen differently in different parts of the world.

How global are ethics? Are there local ethics? Should STPs and AOIs take it into their hands to set rules based upon ethical considerations, or should this be left exclusively in the hands of governments? What sort of ethical dilemmas will STP and AOI managers likely encounter soon? What activities can be accepted, which businesses should not be allowed into our STPs and AOIs?

Session 12
Green and digital change through collaboration: STPs and AOIs as connectors

No one individual or organisation can fight climate change alone: the road ahead requires strong, strategic coalitions of stakeholders working jointly and co-creating to bring about value in a way that a single actor cannot achieve alone. 

Can such coalitions be orchestrated or stimulated by STP/AOI managers? Can they help identify and engage key players across industries and sectors that facilitate co-creation and action? Networked STPs/AOIs are already actors of transnational collaboration in the green and digital transformation: can they also act as drivers to speed up the transformation from a linear to a circular economy on a global scale? We invite authors to submit paper proposals exploring what they already doing to advance SDG 17, strengthening global partnerships for sustainable development, and what more they can still do in the future.