Brussels-Capital is a densely populated region, the capital of Europe and the second most cosmopolitan city in the world. The multicultural and multi-nationalities aspects are characteristic to this territory. The region is a central hub for workers in the country.

The TRANSFORM cluster for Brussels-Capital region will focus on one key priority of the Brussels Region’s territorial development: Green economy, and more particularly, social innovations in Circular Economy.

Innovation and its strong regional dimension are crucial for the economic growth of Brussels-Capital. The incentive role of the public authorities in the innovation activities business is very important. In that context, several public tools are in place to support innovation:

  • the Regional Plan for Innovation funding research and development (R&D) and the Smart Specialisation Strategy. The three local priorities (Health, Environment and ICT) are described in detail in the Regional Innovation Plan (PRI), developed by Innoviris and renovated every 3 years. The next Brussels-Capital Region S3 and PRI are under development for the next programming period starting in 2021.
  • Since 2016, the Brussels-Capital region has included the transition to the circular economy in its strategic objectives and put in place the Regional Program in Circular Economy (PREC).

RRI dimensions are present in existing R&I initiatives of the region such as Co-create, a programme that supports the exploration, experimentation and production of co-created knowledge for urban resilience.

More information about the Regional Innovation Plan 2016-2020 here.
The bodies in charge of the regional Innovation and R&D: Innoviris and Hub Brussels.
More information about the current S3 in Brussels-Capital is available on the S3 platform.


Circular Economy

Circular Economy 

The participatory approach implemented

For its pilot activities, the Brussels-Capital Region cluster will carry out a process of design thinking for social innovation focused on circular economy. The design thinking methodology enables the cluster to better understand the regional context and to implement research and observation methodologies ensuring a deep understanding of user needs and engagement of the local community. Besides one core pilot activity, the Brussels-Capital Region will also focus on capacity building towards strengthening core RRI elements in the implementation of S3 strategies within the context of R&I.


The process of the Brussels-Capital Region cluster’ pilot of TRANSFORM is running in different phases. In the first phase, the cluster is running the assessment of community needs and resources. Exploring the broad topic of circular economy, the cluster selects specific community needs and challenges to address, paying particular attention to sustainability and inclusiveness of the entire participatory process.

In a fully participatory approach, BE participation, in collaboration with other local CSOs and charities, will be involving citizens belonging to different demographic groups in design-thinking workshops but also other representatives of the “quadruple helix” or 4H (public authorities, industry, universities and civil society). These events’ objective is to (re)define the problem, map user needs, and benchmark for the Brussels-Capital Region cluster’ pilot of TRANSFORM and are facilitated by BE participation professionals.

In a second phase, the cluster will facilitate the co-creation of social innovation and carry-out rapid prototyping of solutions and their testing “in situ” with users in the community to enable the cluster to understand what works. The cluster will award grants to implement innovative ideas responding to the selected collective challenges.

January – August 2020

  • Reflection process with the cluster members exploring the broad topic of circular economy, the cluster selects specific community needs and challenges to address.

September – December 2020

  • Definition of the local action plan;
  • Engagement of Think Tank members (local experts) to support the co-creation process and the impact assessment of the cluster experimental activities;
  • A detailed description of specificities of Brussels cluster local context, methodological approach and concrete action plan;
  • First round of capacity building activities.

January –  March 2021

  • Mapping existing RRI programmes and activities from the Brussels-Capital region;
  • Ideation of the co-creation process through participatory workshops to (re)define the problem, map user needs, and benchmark;
  • Multi-stakeholder engagement through Think Tank activities;
  • Second round of capacity building activities.

April – July 2021

  • Co-design of community needs, resources, expectations and perceptions with project partners, citizens, decision-makers and industries.

July – January 2021

  • Unfolding of the co-creation through participatory workshops;
  • Third round of capacity building activities.

January – December 2022

  • Implementation of co-created innovative solutions;
  • Involvement of business incubators to contribute to developing business models;
  • Engagement of policy makers to ensure solutions respond to public policy priorities and approaches, so that the design thinking processes and/or proposed solutions may be integrated into policy measures in the future;
  • Dissemination of outcomes at local and international events.

Think tank

The aim of the Think Tank created by the Brussels-Capital region cluster is to have a multidisciplinary and multistakeholder group of experts helping to improve the alignment of the regional R&I ecosystem with societal needs. More particularly, the objective is to bring expertise that will reinforce the knowledge and experience already present in the cluster to support the implementation of the pilot project applying design thinking for Social Innovation to the field of circular economy. In addition, the purpose is to support the development of an experimental evaluation framework and indicators to assess the added value of introducing RRI elements into the R&I ecosystem of the region.


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Advisory Board member for design thinking for social innovation

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      Anna Meroni 

EU flag This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 872687. This website reflects only the authors' view and the REA and the EC are not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.
Project Coordinator: Angela Simone Fondazione Giannino Bassetti angela.simone@fondazionebassetti.org
contact: info@transform-project.eu