Research Group Focus Map


Research at ECIU

The ECIU University has developed a joint long-term research strategy on smart regions, building on the rapid development of digital infrastructures across Europe to address common research challenges related to SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) topics.

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Energy and sustainability

1. Climate-resilient energy sector

2. Encouragement to the producers to decrease the virgin raw materials consumption

3. Renewable sources of energy & integration of renewables in the energy system

4. Decarbonization of the power sector toward net-zero emission by 2020

5. Whole life cycle analysis.

6. The role of civil society and social movements in energy transitions

7. Social sustainability in the logistic sector and resource depletion for manufacturing processes

8. Citizen engagement targeting bringing the public on as a champion of research in this area to help "motivate" political policy

9. Embodied energy of products

10. Smart design of optimal and reliable energy systems

11. Reliability and Safety Study of Energy Systems

12. International provision chains for renewable energies

13. Energy storage

14. Transformative innovation perspectives

15. Resilient any-scenario communication networks 

Circular Economy

1. Reuse (and recycling) of challenging waste fractions, such as multimaterials/composites and critical materials in the European context

2. Development of biological, thermal, physical and chemical technologies for resource recovery.

3. Investigate the impact of consumer behavioural change on the environmental, economic, and social aspects of a product's life-cycle.

4. Circular oriented innovation

5. Disassembling of product at end of life for component reusage

6. Development of products for circular economy

7. Effects of legislation and business models on circular economy solutions and the drivers and barriers regarding legislation at national and EU level.

8. Materials, such as Polymers, Construction materials and critical raw materials

9. Acceptance of different solutions, e.g. markets for nutrient products recovered from waste streams.

10. Execution and implementation of circular economy principles within an organization

11. Recovery of resources, e.g. nutrients, metals, carbon and/or energy, from industrial, municipal and agricultural waste streams

12. How to integrate CE-thinking into the development work (for example C2C innovation and stage-gate innovation work)

13. Circular construction

14. Sustainable exploitation of mineral raw materials (no more mining wastes; integral use of low-grades)

15. Food waste recycling and food waste valorization

Transport and Mobility

1. Autonomous Driving and Smart Mobility. Create Methods for Multi-Sensors based Road Scene Analysis.

2. Artificial intelligence to mobility and transport prediction

3. Artificial Intelligence for Logistics Management

4. Urban transport in post covid era

5. Zero-emission public transportation

6. Smart design of optimal and reliable systems

7. Shareconomy in logistics (uberization of trucking, car sharing, crowdsourced logistics, platform, etc.).

8. Fully integrated multi-modal mobility options with transportation delay predictions and mobility apps from public administrations

9. Electric vehicles

10. Better use of travel card data for optimization

11. Sharing and utilization of real-time data in supply chains

12. Development and evaluation of integrated concepts in mobility and land use planning

13. Digitalisation of urban transport (shared mobility, mobility as a service), and its societal impacts

14. Walkability and emotions in urban environments

15. Bikeability – from car-dependency to soft mobility

Resilient Communities

1. Trade-offs between resilience and equity/justice

2. Co-creation of practices facilitating resilient communities

3. Social health of communities & social capital (social networks, social trust, reciprocity norms)

4. Citizen participation

5. Employ scenario-building to stimulate community engagement in community engagement in co-creating sustainable and smart communities.

6. Renewable energy production balanced with consumption in a localised community-focused manner

7. Power relations in a resilient community: between members, between community and authorities, between community and society more in general

8. Urban infrastructures risks due to extreme events => nature-based solutions

9. Building on a broad range of stakeholder/community/professional experiences to ensure dealing with the most difficult problem for sustainability

10. How to promote the reuse and adaptation of the built stock to both climate change and social change

11. Analysis of how city-regions are emerging as key contexts for building resilient urban futures

12. Collective action problems associated with community adaptation and resilience

13. Hybrid governance solutions that involve communities, governments and market-based arrangements

14. Multimodality in urban resilient transport systems (car, cycling, shared mobility, public transport)

15. Citizen science/crowd-sourced science

See full strategy here
ECIU SMARTER Video thumbnail
The ECIU University Research Institute for Smart European Regions (SMART-ER) is a research, innovation and education strong alliance, enabling all 12 ECIU University member institutions to jointly address complex societal challenges under the framework of the UN SDG11 (Sustainable cities and communities).

The SMART-ER is a new model of research and innovation, based on a virtual collaborative environment, will call scientists and researchers of the member universities for joint research initiatives and project activities. The SMART-ER together with diverse stakeholder groups at a local, national and international level, will promote the dialogue with society and will work according to a shared Research and Innovation (R&I) Agenda.

Jointly, the institutions will pilot capacity building programmes (Seed Programme and SMART-ER Academy) and citizen science initiatives that will be used as a testbed to put into practice all the mechanisms and structures built.

The SMART-ER project is implemented under the EU Research and Innovation programme Horizon 2020 part “Science with and for Society” (SwafS).

Strategic SMART-ER initiatives

Develop a common research and innovation agenda and convergence action plan, in synergy with education strategies and regional engagement, sharing infrastructures and resources
Develop and implement strategies for strengthening human capital and collaborations in research and innovation.
Contact your local ambassador to learn more
Promote and integrate dialogue with society in research and innovation activities of SMART-ER

SMART-ER Academy

The SMART-ER Academy aims to offer a novel approach of training-capacity programmes that goes beyond the conventional praxis and comfort zone. This will involve researchers from all their professional stages (from R1 to R4) in stimulating training, based on the ECIU University challenge-based learning approach (CBL), focusing the activities on relevant topics and addressing genuine local and regional challenges.

Under this framework, the task aims at generating a knowledge cloud, equipping researchers and other research staff with a combination of training skills, forward-looking competencies, Open Science skills, research integrity, interdisciplinary and entrepreneurial competencies. It also includes further development in non-academic settings with the collaboration of non-academic experts.

Two training programmes are designed under the SMART-ER Academy:

Online PhD Training Programme.

This fully on-line programme aims to train PhD researchers with the skills needed to face an unpredictable and changeable future. It will include skills in alignment with the EC Innovative Doctoral Training Principles (IDTP), the New Skills Agenda and the Modernisation Agenda and based on the challenge-based learning approach.
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Open Science & Leadership Blended-Training Programme.

The programme combines on-line interaction and traditional placed-based activities. It will provide SMART-ER researcher-leaders with the skills able to tackle the challenges of leading multidisciplinary research teams and networks of researchers. Training will also be provided to upgrade researcher-leaders’ skills in preparing project proposals, in holding workshops with the possibility of “pre-proposal preparation” events or “pitch-the-project-idea events”, and also to draw up a specific lists of potential project-funding programmes beyond the upcoming Horizon Europe.
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Research Maps

Click on a research area to get more information on the topics and the contact person for each.

SMART-ER Seed Programme

The Seed Programme supports initiatives focused in three main directions:


Co-tutelle of doctoral students and industrial doctorates

This action aims to promote an increasing new generation of creative, entrepreneurial and innovative ECIU early-stage researchers, able to face current and future societal challenges.
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Blended mobility
to create networks

This action promotes inter-institutional collaboration through blended exchanging of research and innovation SMART-ER staff to create new networks or leverage existing networks aimed at contributing to SDG 11.
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SMART-ER Seed Projects

This action promotes high-quality research outputs within SMART-ER through the funding of inter-institutional and inter-sectoral research and innovation Seed projects directly linked to the SDG11 challenges defined under ECIU University.
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Erasmus Sustainable Mobility

In its 2021-2027 period, the Erasmus program is expected to move 10 million European students. These students however will have significantly larger carbon footprints during their stay abroad than when studying back at home. On the other hand, most international students will make intensive use of public transportation, bike sharing systems (BSS) or other sustainable travel options on their day-to-day activities during their stays, offsetting some of their carbon emissions.

Research Area
Transport and mobility, Energy and sustainability
More about the project
Coordinator institution
Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona,
Oriol Marquet Sardà
Partner institution
Aveiro University
Aalborg University
Type of Action
SMART-ER Seed Projects
Coordinator institution
Kaunas University of Technology,
Dmytro Volyniuk
Partner institution
Linköping University
Tampere University
Type of Action
SMART-ER Seed Projects

Interface-friendly hole-transporting materials for low-cost and stable perovskite solar cells

Our consortium aims to develop cost-efficient HTMs and investigate the fundamental and applied aspects of perovskite/HTM/metal interfaces in relation to device stability. The overall aim of T-i-PSCer project is to boost the scientific excellence and innovation capacity of three ECIU universities and their non-academic partner in developing interface-friendly HTMs for stable PSCs with the commercial potential.

Research Area
Energy and sustainability
More about the project
Coordinator institution
Linköping University,
Tina Schmid Neset
Partner institution
University of Stavanger
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
University of Twente
Type of Action
SMART-ER Seed Projects

ECIU Urban Transformation Collaboratory

This project brings together academic and societal partners from 4 ECIU institutes, building on established collaboration with focus on societal transformation, citizen engagement, viable and smart cities. ECIU-UTC is drawing on a palette of local and regional challenges that are jointly defined with societal partners in Norrköping/Linköping, Stavanger, Enschede, and Barcelona, aiming to achieve SDG11 – sustainable cities and communities, and to the ECIU ‘SuperBlock of Covadonga’ challenge.

Research Area
Resilient communities, Transport and mobility, Energy and sustainability
More about the project
Coordinator institution
University of Aveiro,
Ana Dias Daniel
Partner institution
University of Twente
Dublin City University
Kaunas University of Technology
Linköping University
Tampere University
Type of Action
Research network on resilient communities

Research network on resilient communities

The RESILIENT project aims at building a Research Network on Resilient Communities through i) the development of a collaborative net of researchers for knowledge exchange and capacity building between network partners; ii) forge new multi- and interdisciplinary research and training initiatives on critical aspects of resilient communities undertaken by the network members in collaboration; iii) encourage the dialogue between academia and civil society through citizen science approaches, which is needed to enhance the resilience of local communities in practice.

Research Area
Resilient communities
More about the project
Coordinator institution
Kaunas University of Technology,
Viktorija Varaniūtė
Partner institution
Linköping University
Tampere University
Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
Type of Action
Blended mobility to create networks

Interdisciplinary Networking for a Sustainable and Circular Economy

Peter Drucker (1909-2005) once stated that “The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic.” The circular economy is a concept that has been shown to have great merits in mobilizing many different actors and professional groups to contribute to a more effective and resource-efficient, sustainable and circular society. Thus, the vision of this project is to create an interdisciplinary network for a sustainable and circular economy focusing on effective solutions and how to make them efficient from a societal perspective.

Research Area
Circular economy
More about the project

Digital Twins for Energy Optimization

Departing from Internet of Things (IoT) approaches, our work aims at narrowing down this gap, leveraging Machine Learning (ML) for pattern recognition and data analytics, towards more informed decision-making on buildings’ energy optimization. Our goal is to join expertise and expand availability of infrastructure, enabling case studies in both Lithuania and Sweden where we will demonstrate the effective application of our tools.

Research Area
Energy and sustainability
More about the project
Coordinator institution
Kaunas University of Technology,
Darius Pupeikis
Partner institution
Linköping University
Type of Action
Co-tutelle of doctoral students and industrial doctorates

Sustainable biological management of nitrogenous liquid streams from air emission control

To reduce environmental impact of flue gases, efficient purification technologies are widely adopted and some of them transfer the pollutants to water phase. The liquid effluents from gas cleaning may thus result in water pollution requiring new management processes. This research aims at developing a specific process for the purification of these effluents, focusing on the removal of nitrogen originated by NOx removal via optimized biological denitrification.

Research Area
Energy and sustainability, Circular economy
More about the project
Coordinator institution
Tampere University,
Jaakko Puhakka
Partner institution
University of Trento
Type of Action
Co-tutelle of doctoral students and industrial doctorates

ResearchEr Mobility Fund

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Citizen Science

Citizen Science, together with the integration of the stakeholders in the different processes of the research cycle, is a fundamental pillar of the SMART-ER project. 

Particularly, SMART-ER devotes a whole work package (WP5), which defines specific actions to develop a strong community of Citizen Science in the ECIU University. These actions are distributed in 3 tasks:

The development of a platform for supporting Citizen Science projects.
The coordination of 2 pilots onCitizen Science with the participation of the ECIU universities during the length of the project, starting in Spring 2022.
The definition of a document for recommendation and guidelines for the development of Citizen Science projects.

In order to help consolidating a strong Community of Citizen Science, the ECIU Consortium will organize a number of open webinars from September 2021. These webinars will showcase the state-of-the-art of Citizen Science projects in the different Universities of the ECIU Consortium, and it well contribute to approach common challenges and topics of interest with the view on the identification of potential joint efforts for the pilots.

In addition, with the aim of co-designing the pilots with the ECIU's Community of Citizen Science, we will run a CO-CREATION WORKSHOP which will take place online on FEBRUARY 3rd 2022, from 10.00h to 13.30h CET.

We welcome all the ECIU researchers to register and participate in this action.

You will receive further details and instructions by email.

New: SMART-ER Series of Webinars on Citizen Science

Engaging the Community of Citizen Science researchers and practitioners at ECIU University.
The webinars will be recorded and published, and they can be accessed through this page to the general public. You can find all the recorded webinars at the bottom of this page.
see all webinars

Public Engagement

SMART-ER aims to integrate public engagement in all the activities led by the VRI and to facilitate processes related to engaging all the different stakeholders of society in the research process.

We define public engagement as participatory multi actor dialogues and exchanges to foster mutual understanding, co-create research and innovation outcomes, and provide input to policy agendas.

Engaging with its various publics is of increasing importance to higher education in Europe and globally. It allows the sector to strengthen relevance, responsiveness and accountability in a sustainable manner.

The areas of intervention include:

  • Public sector: local, national and regional authorities, regional health care providers, European networks, cultural and sporting bodies, etc.
  • Private sector: industry/enterprise engagement, industry associations and chambers of commerce, public private partnerships (eg in health or transport), etc).
  • Civil society: community-based organisations (CBOs), non-governmental organisations (NGOs), citizens assemblies, neighbourhood associations, etc.

Find your colleagues involved in this community so far here

You are a researcher or staff member of an ECIU university and you have first-hand experience or interest in engagement methods and in developing further methods for doing research?  Join the community and participate to our future events by filling this registration form.

These are examples of activities that you can engage in by participating in this ECIUPublic Engagement Community of Practice:

  • develop engagement methods to enhance the ability of ECIU University to engage with society;
  • share best practices across the SMART-ER Institute;
  • provide support and expertise to the processes related to public engagement for the SMART-ER Institute and your institution.

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