Fab City Projects for Sustainable Cities

People harvest vegetables from their garden

Metropolitan areas that are open to sustainable innovation and are totally self-sufficient – KLU is researching this vision in its Fab City project along with other local organizations, headed by Helmut Schmidt University (HSU) in Hamburg. Here we introduce three KLU sub-projects on food supply, the recycling economy, and ideas management.

Local Food Production and Distribution Project – Urban Agriculture

Idea: This sub-project researches the potentials of urban and regional food production and their associated value creation chains. The analysis includes: agricultural companies, logistics services (storage and distribution), trade, customers, and political actors. “We’re interested in what the collaboration of all actors looks like in local food production and distribution. The underlying question is: Where is there potential for innovative local production, for example, in vertical or urban agriculture?” Project Director Sandra Transchel said. The goal is, in the long term, to bolster the mid-sized agricultural sector, which is largely responsible for regional food supply.

Director: Dr. Sandra Transchel, Professor of Supply Chain and Operations Management
Duration: April 2022 - December 2024



Supply Chain and Operations Management Project – Urban Production

Idea: As a part of Fab City, several open labs in the city are practically testing what decentralized urban value creation can look like. And KLU is examining how this affects logistics and supply chains in its sub-project Supply Chain and Operations Management. The recycling economy and 3D printing are of special focus. KLU doctoral student Robin Kabelitz-Bock: “When urban society produces its own replacement parts for washing machines, vacuums, etc. in open labs in the future, entirely new prospects arise for a local, sustainable recycling economy. We’re examining potential use cases and gleaning open questions to be answered.”

Method: KLU collects and analyses data for use in open labs with manufacturing machines such as 3D printers and computerized milling machines. They are publicly available for individuals and companies.  

Director: Dr. Kai Hoberg, Professor of Supply Chain and Operations Strategy
Duration: July 2021 - December 2024


Citizen Innovation Project – Good Ideas from the People

Idea: How can the general public be integrated as effectively as possible into the development of ideas for new products and solutions, for example, for cities? The Fab City sub-project Citizen Innovation handles this issue using an idea competition. The project examines three phases: brainstorming, idea assessment, and idea implementation. If and which ideas are submitted depends on how these three phases are designed. “How does comparison with others influence creative work? Are participants in a competition deterred by good ideas, so they don’t even submit their own? Or do good ideas spur them on? What patterns and biases arise later in voting, in the community? These are some of the questions we’d like to answer,” Project Director Christina Raasch said. KLU doctoral student Johanna Schnier is also participating.

Method: The project team is conducting an idea competition online.

Director: Dr. Christina Raasch, Professor of Digital Economy
Duration: March 2022 - December 2024


About Fab City

The research project Fab City began in 2021 and is supported by Zentrum für Digitalisierungs- und Technologieforschung der Bundeswehr (dtec.bw) with around nine million euros. It is an integral part of the German federal stimulus package to overcome the COVID-19 crisis. Headed by HSU, various actors in the public and private sectors, and a number of research partners, Fab City will be in progress until 2024.

Alongside KLU, a number of Hamburg institutions and organizations are involved, including: HafenCity University, Hamburg University of Technology, Hamburg Port Authority, and Bucerius Law School. Hamburg-based companies are also project partners.

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