Bringing Nordic Solutions to Canada

April 16, 2018

In September Quercus is helping to organize and execute the Urban Open Innovation Lab in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, which will connect the Canadian city with inspiration and solutions for sustainable and affordable housing from the Nordics. 


Cities across the world are faced with sustainability challenges associated with the transition from an industrial to a post-industrial age. The city of Hamilton is a medium-sized Canadian city located just outside of Canada’s largest city - Toronto. Over the 20th century, Hamilton became a hub for heavy industry and blue-collar jobs, hosting large-scale production within the steel and the automotive industry. As Canada’s economy and energy mix are changing in the 21st century, so are the city of Hamilton’s priorities as it shifts to a post-industrial age. Simultaneously, the skyrocketing housing market in nearby Toronto has meant that many people are looking towards Hamilton for an affordable future. As a result, the city is confronted by considerable challenges arising from an influx of new residents, rising real estate prices, and the sustainable redevelopment of industrial areas. This creates a critical need to increase the availability of affordable, accessible and sustainable housing in Hamilton.  



In doing so, the City of Hamilton is looking towards the Nordic countries for new solutions, creative ideas and international inspiration. Together with a range of partners and financial support from Nordic Innovation’s Nordic Sustainable Cities program, Quercus Group is organizing a comprehensive Nordic-Canadian partnership event – the Urban Open Innovation Lab in Hamilton. 


The Lab will bring a group of Nordic cities, experts and companies to take part in an innovative process, where city officials, local businesses, citizens and stakeholders will engage with the Nordic participants to tackle the challenge of ensuring affordable and sustainable housing in Hamilton. The purpose of the Urban Open Innovation Lab is to gather expertise from Nordic and Canadian stakeholders to discuss challenges and propose solutions to the government officials, local housing organizations, local community groups, and social or public housing agencies. The crux of the project is to connect Hamilton to inspiration and best practices from Nordic cities that have faced similar circumstances, as well as to private companies delivering innovative solutions within the area of affordable and sustainable housing. As such, the lab is both a knowledge-sharing and co-creation event.                                     


The Urban Open Innovation Lab has two components and is based on proven concepts that the consortium of partners will deploy in Hamilton in collaboration with the City. The first component is led by IFHP and the Swedish think tank Global Utmaning and features a cross-sectorial constellation of leaders and experts from the Nordic countries within city government and civil society organizations and business. Together with Hamilton, these cities, public authorities and organizations from the Nordic region will explore, learn, analyse and develop ideas to the challenges regarding affordable and sustainable housing in Hamilton, and co-create ideas for whether experiences and best practices from the Nordic countries are applicable in the context in Hamilton. 


Quercus Group together with the EU's main climate innovation initiative Climate-KIC and the Finnish cleantech organization Solved will lead the second component. This will be an open innovation process, where Nordic businesses and sustainability solutions within the sustainable and affordable housing will be demonstrated and adapted on-site in Hamilton. Specifically, the companies will be working towards deep retrofitting for near zero-carbon emissions and exploring solar and green energy potential in the existing building stock.  


For businesses wishing to submit a solution, please see: 


"Canada and the Nordic countries have a lot of similarities and many similar challenges. With the recent passage of the EU-Canada free trade deal CETA and the consequences of climate change increasing, it is high time that Canadian and Nordic cities form closer ties to learn from each other how to be a liveable and sustainable city in the 21st century. The Urban Open Innovation Lab is one way of doing this, and we believe it will significantly increase awareness and business ties between Hamilton and the Nordic countries", says Sebastian Damm Wray, Business Development Manager at Quercus Group. 


For more information on the Hamilton Urban Open Innovation Lab, please contact Sebastian at  



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