The Smart BEEjS consortium gathered in Lisbon, Portugal from the 3rd to the 21st of February to participate in its first Winter School. The 3-week training program gave the early stage researchers an opportunity to present their progress in their individual PhDs while expanding their research skillsets and knowledge through a series of tailored workshops.

The themes of the various activities, including workshops and seminars, varied greatly. Trainings ranged from more research skill-oriented seminars, including an introduction into the use of qualitative and experimental research methods, to more soft-skill oriented activities including design thinking approach and the use of inclusive language in research. Notably, the early-stage researchers learned how to implement the Urban Living Labs methodology, creating innovative experiments to test solutions to sustainability challenges across different case studies. This week-long training course organized by the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions (AMS) allowed the researchers to form connections and collaborate with partners across Europe, as they created a sustainability plan for Instituto Universitário de Lisboa and checked the validity of creating an energy trading scheme in a housing development in Amsterdam (among other projects).

The researchers also had to opportunity to present their individual and group work in a number of presentations, gathering invaluable feedback on their PhDs from the rest of the consortium. Several keynote presenters also provided the researchers with more insight into their topics by running a number of  lectures on topics such as energy justice, importance of cities, and understanding local communities’ perspectives on energy developments.

Finally, the consortium witnessed local solutions to sustainability issues during two field trips at key sites near Lisbon. First, the team went to Torres Vedras, a town north of Lisbon, where recent investment into more sustainable mobility solutions has led to a number of opportunities and challenges for local authorities. Secondly, the team visited Montemor-o-Novo where citizen cooperative Coopernico invested in renewable energy solutions (PV panels) through collaboration with other citizen cooperatives, highlighting the crucial role of citizen-led social enterprises in the energy transformation.

The Smart-BEEjS researchers have returned to their home universities and research centers better equipped with new skills and knowledge. They will continue to work on their individual projects and group deliverables until the next trainings in Bolzano in June.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions, Innovative Training Networks, Grant Agreement No. 812730

Images courtesy of Adrian Axinte.

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