Europe is ready to harness innovative solutions to address Extreme Wildfire Events

Originally published on FIRE-RES News.

The Open Innovation Challenge initiated by the FIRE-RES project calls for applications that help address key challenges before, during and after large-scale wildfires increasingly faced by landscapes across Europe and the communities that live there.

Connecting the dots: from suppression to resilience

Europe is facing an ever-growing number of extreme wildfires, often with devastating consequences for people and the environment. According to the European Forest Fire Information System, 2021 was the second-worst wildfire season in the European Union since 2000, when EFFIS records began. In that year, an area of 500.566ha was burnt in the EU27 and 417.807ha in other European countries. These fires no longer affect only or mainly southern Europe, but also central European and Nordic countries. For instance, 22 out of the 27 EU member states were affected.

The underlying causes of these fires and their devastating impacts – such as climate change, urbanisation and changing consumption patterns (driven by both tertiarisation and globalisation) – are here to stay. They highlight the limits of long-standing suppression-centred fire management strategies. That’s why practitioners, researchers, and policymakers increasingly recognise the need to develop novel approaches that expand the scope of work in this field.

Such innovative solutions need to understand that the landscapes at risk are not just physical assets such as forests and human homes or infrastructure. They consist of a multitude of ecological and social component parts and processes, whose resilience to the risk of fire needs to be improved.

The risk of wildfires consists not only of the hazard itself, and not even only of a combination of the hazard and exposure to it, but it lies at the intersection of hazard, exposure and vulnerability to both. Thus, vulnerability is a key consideration in continuously managing the challenge of fire – before, during and after the event.

To reduce landscapes’ and communities’ vulnerability to fire, all of society needs to work together to connect the dots. The root causes of fire need to be addressed through prevention, and effective preparation activities need to be devised. Its impacts need to be softened by fostering adaptation and ensuring recovery. All this needs to happen alongside the development of a more nuanced approach to managing wildfires rather than simply attempting to suppress them.

For, while the aim of suppressing, say, 98% of all ignitions seems, at face value, like a worthwhile endeavour, it is important to remember that a mere 2% of ignitions account for about 80% of the damage caused by wildland fires. Not to mention that successful suppression leads to a build-up of fuel loads for future fires!

FIRE-RES Open Innovation Challenge now open

The Open Innovation Challenge is open to innovators, be they individuals, teams or companies of all sizes. It is seeking innovative solutions of all kinds, for instance, technological, social or business-related: products, services, platforms, processes, procedures, best practices, etc. Solutions at all development stages are welcome, from early ideas, methods, and prototypes to close-to-market or market-ready services and products.

Eleven multi-stakeholder Living Labs across Europe have identified the most pressing challenges for increased resilience. They are grouped around seven themes: ‘Risk Communication and Awareness’, ‘Engagement and Empowerment’, ‘Training and Education’, ‘Management Before, During and After Extreme Wildfire Events’, ‘Monitoring’, ‘Forecasting and Decision Support’, and ‘Policy and Governance’.

Successful applicants with early-stage solutions, such as ideas, will be supported to develop their solutions. Later-stage solutions, such as prototypes, close-to-market, or market-ready solutions, will be supported to demonstrate, pilot and upscale their solutions. This will include brokerage of on-the-ground contacts and testing of solutions’ feasibility in the realistic contexts of the Living Labs. Successful applicants will receive mentoring and in-kind support. In addition, individual entries may be eligible for up to €5.000 for demonstration activities and up to €16.000 for piloting activities.

The FIRE-RES Open Innovation Challenge is open until 19 November 2023.

More information
Full details of the FIRE-RES Open Innovation Competition
Living Labs involved in identifying key challenges caused by fire

Featured image: ISPI

FIRE-RES Open Innovation Challenge now open: support available for developing, demonstrating and piloting solutions to combat extreme wildfires in Europe

Europe is facing an increasing number of extreme wildfires, often with devastating consequences for people and the environment. These fires affect southern Europe as well as central European and Nordic countries.

As the limits of fire suppression-centred strategies become evident, practitioners, researchers, and policymakers increasingly recognise the need to develop novel approaches that expand the scope of work in this field, including the root causes and the impacts of Extreme Wildfires.

Working towards greater resilience to such extreme fires, FIRE-RES and its partners launched the FIRE-RES Open Innovation Challenge for applications aiming to address the most important challenges faced in the prevention of and preparation for, in response to, and enabling recovery after extreme wildfires.

The 11 Living Labs of FIRE-RES were assigned to identify these most pressing challenges, grouped into seven themes and 17 challenges: ‘Risk Communication and Awareness’, ‘Engagement and Empowerment’, ‘Training and Education’, ‘Management Before, During and After Extreme Wildfire Events’, ‘Monitoring’, ‘Forecasting and Decision Support’, ‘Policy and Governance’. Explore all themes and challenges here.

The Open Innovation Challenge is open to innovators, entrepreneurs, technologists, researchers, businesses of all sizes, experts, and all forward-thinking minds to step up and submit cutting-edge solutions addressing the challenges experienced by different stakeholders coping with the risks of extreme wildfires.

It is seeking innovative solutions of all kinds, for instance, technological, social or business-related: products, services, platforms, processes, procedures, best practices, etc. Solutions at all development stages are welcome, from early ideas, methods, and prototypes to close-to-market or market-ready services and products.

Successful applicants with early-stage solutions, such as ideas, will be supported to develop their solutions. Later-stage solutions, such as prototypes, close-to-market, or market-ready solutions, will be supported to demonstrate, pilot and upscale their solutions. This will include brokerage of on-the-ground contacts and testing of their solutions’ feasibility in the realistic contexts of the Living Labs. Successful applicants will receive mentoring and in-kind support as well as, in selected cases, financial support. For the latter, a total of €168.000 is available for this Open Innovation Challenge, with individual entries being eligible for up to €5.000 for demonstration activities and up to €16.000 for piloting activities.

The FIRE-RES Open Innovation Challenge is open until 19 November 2023 (23:59 CET). For full details, please visit the website here.

Sign up for the FIRE-RES Newsletter and receive the latest updates about our activities and the Open Innovation Challenge here.

For questions about applications, please contact: oic@fire-res.eu

Follow us on social media: X, LinkedIn and Facebook.

The project leading to this application has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101037419.

FIRE-RES Open Innovation Challenge supporters

FIRE-RES Open Innovation Challenge Q&A Webinar

FIRE-RES Open Innovation Challenge Q&A Webinar

Join us at the FIRE-RES Open Innovation Challenge Q&A Webinar on 18 October 2023 at 15:00 CEST. The webinar intends to address all the inquiries, questions, and doubts of potential applicants. During the webinar, we will revisit the FIRE-RES Open Innovation Challenge, the benefits of participating, and the application process. 

If you are interested in applying for the challenge and have questions about the application process, themes, timelines, or any other questions, this webinar is for you. Please send your questions to our Helpdesk: oic@fire-res.eu.  

Register now using this form. 

Agenda

15:00 – 15:05 | Welcome
15:05 – 15:15 | FIRE-RES Open Innovation Challenge, its benefits, and the application process
15:15 – 15:30 | Discussing the FAQs
15:30 – 15:55 | Questions from the audience
15:55 – 16:00 | Conclusion

Revisit the FIRE-RES Info Session

FIRE-RES and its partners hosted an info session on 14 September to kick off the challenge. If you missed the info session or would like to rewatch it, click here. The info session featured more extensive information about the FIRE-RES Open Innovation Challenge, the themes and challenges, participation benefits, and the application process. 

About the FIRE-RES Open Innovation Challenge 

FIRE-RES Project has opened an Open Innovation Challenge (OIC) for innovators combating Extreme Wildfires in Europe and beyond. The FIRE-RES Open Innovation Challenge (OIC) is intended for innovators, entrepreneurs, technologists, researchers, businesses of all sizes, experts, and all forward-thinking minds in the field to contribute to tackling wildfires. 

Explore the seven themes and their respective challenges on our website.

Visit the submission guidelines for complete information about eligibility, application, and evaluation. Be a part of the solution and help us build more resilient landscapes and safe communities: submit your proposal by 19 November at 23:59 CET. 

Survey to enhance the Fire Education Platform

The FIRE-RES project is developing a strategy for managing extreme wildfires, from prevention to adaptation and restoration. The project team is working on a Fire Education Platform, an online tool to share best practices while informing and educating stakeholders about wildfires in different countries.

Fire Education Platform

To ensure the platform meets the needs of future users, a survey has been prepared to collect people’s thoughts. All potential users are invited to participate in the survey: teachers, decision-makers, fire-related actors and other interest parties.

Click the link below to start the survey.

Want to see your survey, call or opportunity featured here? Share with us and get featured on our website.