Innovation Labs – Science Shop of the Wuppertal Institute

The new Science Shop set up by the Wuppertal Institute and all community based participatory research (CBPR) activities have recently been incorporated into a new research unit within the Institute called Innovation Labs

The activities and projects of this new research unit are based on the Wuppertal Institute’s strong network of local institutions that are also engaged in community based participatory research (CBPR) activities. Following the principles of transdisciplinary and transformative research, the Innovation Labs are designed to promote engagement with the citizens of Wuppertal, local initiatives, industries and the city’s administration in open dialogue. 

Business model 

Our Vision

To co-create a sustainable, low resource economy and society in the Wuppertal region. Enabling well-being and a high quality of life with environmentally friendly and fair product-service systems with particular regard to social innovation. The social and economic transformation shall be triggered by requests from citizens and other stakeholders and solved in co-creation with scientists.

Our Mission

Accelerating a socially accepted and sustainable transformation in Wuppertal based on a transformative research approach. This includes brokerage services and collaboration with regional/local stakeholders (e.g. citizens, public and private organisations) to identify real needs and to co-create sustainable innovation and design as a means of decoupling quality of life and environmental as well as social damage. Taking stakeholder concerns, which consist of city citizens, NGOs, NPOs, the city administration, local social and environmental initiatives and industries, as the starting point of action for tackling current and future social-ecological challenges.

Organisational structure

The Science Shop of the Wuppertal Institute is embedded in the new research unit “Innovation Labs” which develops and supports open innovation processes for sustainable production and consumption patterns within business, politics and society. This  unit will bundle and efficiently utilise the joint resources of our key partners (e.g. complementing expertise, manpower and facilities) to work on project/research requests from civil society.

In addition to using resources provided by the partners, we applied for third party funds (co-creation of project proposals) to support our Science Shop activities.  To date three of these applications have been successful: 

  •  Solar Decathlon Europe 21: The SDE21 combines urban architectural challenges with social, economic and ecological aspects, providing blueprints for sustainable urban transitions.  The research unit “Innovation labs” leads the work package “Real-world Laboratory, Empowerment and Education” which focuses on the real-world laboratory process in the Mirker Quartier in Wuppertal as well as on comprehensive empowerment and targeted educational formats in schools, the neighbourhood, craft and training enterprises and households. Further information.
  • Networking and Designing New Urban Production Facilities in the Bergisches Städtedreieck – Economic Development 4.0: The objectives of this project are to define and map the sites of “New Urban Production” and the establishment of a transdisciplinary competence centre for New Urban Production with  low-threshold offers for experimentation and prototyping, qualification of potential founders and support in the development of start-up ideas in the field of New Urban Production.
  • EXIST-Potentials: Sustainable Entrepreneurship: Sustainable start-ups in the “Bergisches Start-up Center”: The project involves the development of the “Bergisches Start-up Center”. The unit “Innovation Labs” service provision lies in the components “awakening potentials” and “promoting foundation”.  In particular, it is planned that it will take the lead in the development of the “Sustainable Entrepreneurship Track”. 

These joint activities serve as a pillar to produce revenue streams for the Science Shop activities of the Innovation Labs research unit within the Wuppertal Institute.


Activity to date

Two pilot co-creation activities have so far been undertaken by the Science Shop Wuppertal:

As a pilot project, the Science Shop Wuppertal was involved in organising a CBPR event in Wuppertal in cooperation with the University of Wuppertal, Neue Effizienz and Climate-KIC, called Climathon Wuppertal, where citizens develop solutions together with scientists to address local challenges related to climate change. Climathon is a global movement dedicated to solving city climate challenges. Originally conceptualised as a 24-hour hackathon by Climate-KIC, Climathon has since taken off as a global movement, engaging citizens on climate action and providing cities with continued support on the unique challenges they face. 

Climathan Wuppertal took place on 26 October 2018 and the Science Shop contributed to conceptualizing the event and engaging the local community.  Read more about the Climathon in an article and on the Climathon website.

Science Shop Wuppertal’s pilot project “Climathon Wuppertal 2018”co-organised by the Neue Effizienz, the University of Wuppertal, the Wuppertal Institute and Climate Kic.
Science Shop Wuppertal’s pilot project “Climathon Wuppertal 2018”co-organised by the Neue Effizienz, the University of Wuppertal, the Wuppertal Institute and Climate Kic.

To support the further development of ideas generated at the Climathon, Wuppertal Science Shop has since organised three follow up events and provided additional support in the form of process coaching to a volunteer project team, helping to moderate co-creation workshops, coordinating work packages, supporting the design of Heavy Rain Kit and introducing scientific tools, such as the WI`s ecological rucksack calculator.

 In 2019, the second Climathon Wuppertal took place on 25 October: The CBPR event was organised again in cooperation with the University of Wuppertal and  the Neue Effizienz (local NPO). Further information can be found here and in this article about the event.

Science Shop Wuppertal has also been involved in meetings and twinning activities and meetings with WILA Bonn (Science Shop Bonn) and cooperation activities with the WILA Solingen (Science Shop Solingen).



The Heavy Rain Kit was submitted by the volunteer project team to the POWER Idea Contest for Sustainable Communities and was awarded 3rd place (out of 140 submitted ideas). The project team is currently exploring possibilities to further develop the idea together with Wupperverband (a local NPO).


Next steps

As the two climathon events in 2018 and 2019 were a great success, a third climathon event in 2020 is planned. Again it will be a joined event organised in co-partnership with “Neue Effizienz” and the University of Wuppertal.  

The website for the Science Shop activities of the Wuppertal Institute can be found here:



Main contact: 

  • Markus Kühlert,