Look what the neighbours are doing!

Communities shaping sustainability - 14th September 2021

Community level projects play a vital role in sustainability transitions. Be it the planning of a heat network, liberating a neighborhood from transit traffic, or a collective investment in home improvement, social dynamics often determine the success or failure of an innovative community project. The EU SMARTEES project studied social dynamics of innovation in five types of energy- and mobility-related local social innovations in ten front-runner cities and islands across Europe. These case studies provided rich data and fascinating stories on the complexities of social innovation. Computational social simulation models were developed for a variety of cases, allowing for experimentation based on the modelling of actual community behavior, with different interests, positions and social networks represented through the diverse case selection. The results of these experiments and the robust research done in SMARTEES are captured in an innovative “Policy Sandbox-tool” that allows planners working with social innovation testing out different scenarios, to help determine the best course of action. During the SMARTEES conference, attendees will be able to explore the tool and learn about state of the art insights on how to support communities and strengthen local democracy to achieve sustainable energy- and mobility transitions.



Flor Avelino, works at the Dutch Research Institute for Transitions (DRIFT) as senior researcher and lecturer in the politics of sustainability transitions and social innovation, and as associate professor at the Department of Public Administration & Sociology (DPAS) at the Erasmus School of Social & Behavioural Sciences (ESSB, Erasmus University of Rotterdam). With a background in political science, she specialises in power theories and has a particular interest in understanding how people and networks are (dis)empowered to contribute to change and how power relations are being challenged and reproduced through translocal processes of social innovation and sustainability transitions.


Søren Hermansen has been the driving force behind the transformation of Samsø into self-sufficient renewable energy island. Hermansen is the Director of the Samsø Energy Academy, which opened in 2007. The Academy arranges a variety of activities targeted at researches and the public to increase knowledge on sustainable energy. Hermansen won the Goteborg-award in 2009 (one of the most prestigious environmental prices), as the first Danish person ever, for his work in Samsø.


Petra Ahrweiler is Full Professor of Sociology of Technology and Innovation, Social Simulation at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany. Her appointment at JGU started in 2013 with getting leave for obtaining the position of Director and CEO at the EA European Academy of Technology and Innovation Assessment in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, Germany, until 2017. Before 2013, she had been Full Professor of Technology and Innovation Management at Michael Smurfit School of Business, University College Dublin, Ireland, and Director of its Innovation Research Unit IRU. Furthermore, she was Research Fellow of the Engineering Systems Division at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge/USA.



Terry Albronda works for the municipality of Groningen in the field of traffic management and smart mobility. From this position he represented the northern region for several years in the national traffic management council and was regional coordinator for the development of the national ITS program. In recent years, as a policy developer, Terry has been the driving force behind the introduction of smart mobility within the municipality of Groningen and coordinates European cooperation on the mobility theme. Knowledge development and innovation are important keywords in his work.


Gabriele Quinti is a socio-economist and statistical methodologist; he has carried out, in the last 40 years, numerous activities (especially in Europe, West and Central Africa, Central America and MERCOSUR), involving studies and research, evaluation/assessment and scenarios’ setting, and institutional and capacity building, Team leader or team member in many H2020, FP7 or FP6 projects, among other on societal issues in the energy sector. He has been working for many years with different research organisations and has collaborated in numerous occasions with different United Nations agencies, international financial institutions and other international organizations, as well as with the European Union.


More speakers to be announced soon!



Join the SMARTEES final conference 14th September 2021 to learn about the project’s discoveries on how to support and plan for local social innovation! Register here.


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 763912. The sole responsibility for the content of this website lies with the SMARTEES project. It does not necessarily represent the opinion of the European Union.