For the IGNITION team, the Living Lab is of high importance as a main communication tool to convince potential investors and other stakeholders to invest in nature-based solutions for climate change adaptation. In reality, the different solutions – a raingarden, a green wall, a green roof, and trees fed by rainwater collected from sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) – will be quite an experience. Continuous monitoring will deliver real-time data that can be observed on a screen at the campus. All the information collected will provide additional input into IGNITION’s evidence base for nature-based solutions, which helps to provide reasoning for decision-makers to select green over grey solutions.
Before starting to procure the Living Lab, the project team held a workshop and has been in contact with potential investors and suppliers of solutions and learned about their awareness and knowledge, interests and particular needs. While this exchange was actually intended to develop the business models for financing nature-based solutions, the workshops also helped substantially to prepare the ground for procuring the Living Lab in two ways:
- Potential investors and suppliers gained a higher awareness of nature-based solutions for climate-resilience, and got an idea about the kind of solutions IGNITION would seek for.
- The project team has received valuable design ideas around the Living Lab . The University of Salford could therefore better tailor the call for tender documents to potential suppliers’ needs and interests. - e.g. they highlighted potential additional credits for suppliers relevant also for future business offers.
In addition, the team looked at the procurement process of other living labs in the UK such as at the Universities of Sheffield and Newcastle. However, these examples only included single nature-based solutions, which is different from the planned combined set of various nature-based solutions at the University of Salford. Therefore, experience from these external examples was only helpful on some aspects of the procurement process.