Europe’s sustainable built environment initiative gains momentum: Built4People Innovation Cluster Network launches to accelerate sustainable innovation

Press release

Today (25 September 2023) the Built4People (B4P) partnership announced the launch of a new network of innovation clusters, to action sustainable innovation and help hit EU climate targets for Europe’s ageing building stock, which is lagging behind in the green transition.  

The B4P public-private partnership (B4PIC) between the European Commission and two of Europe’s leading built environment associations, European Construction, built environment, and energy-efficient buildings Technology Platform (ECTP) and World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) was set up in 2021 to channel around €800 million into research and innovation for the sector. The partners are now calling for clusters of businesses to join the Built4People Innovation Cluster (B4PIC) Network. The B4PIC network will help the industry to scale up new solutions, products and services aligned with the ambitions of the EU Green Deal and New European Bauhaus.

The B4P partners welcome existing hubs or clusters to join the multidisciplinary European network to engage, connect, and scale sustainable innovations across Europe. 

The built environment currently accounts for a staggering 39% of global CO2 emissions, which continue to rise. The EU has a target to upgrade 35 million homes by the end of the decade and new legislation under development may make it mandatory for all new buildings to be Zero Emissions by 2028. Currently however, investments in the sector are way off track, with an estimated annual shortfall of some €282 billion needed to upgrade just the existing building stock. 

Unlocking this investment and delivering on the EU’s ambitious goals requires a major shift in the way sustainable buildings are delivered. The construction sector has not kept pace with productivity gains seen in other sectors in past decades and has been one of the slowest to exploit opportunities from digitalisation.

The complexity and fragmentation of the sustainable built environment ecosystem necessitates the involvement of all players across the value chain and building lifecycle to achieve holistic transformation. However, waiting for innovations to scale organically is insufficient. Innovations require the right conditions and networks to reach the market quickly. The new network of B4PICs will play a crucial role in incubating solutions and accelerating their maturity levels, benefiting companies of all sizes. Crucially, this also means increasing the chances of successful outcomes from the dozens of projects the EU is funding under the B4P Partnership.

Driving productivity, growth, and efficiency

By leveraging their collaborative ecosystems, expertise and resources, clusters within B4PICs can accelerate the development, adoption, and scale-up of green technologies and solutions. Research indicates that innovation clusters yield substantial benefits including:

  1. Increased Productivity: Companies within innovation clusters are around 40% more productive than non-clustered organisations, according to the European Cluster Observatory. Additionally, a study conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) revealed that innovation cluster companies experience an average a productivity growth rate of 1.2% per year, compared to 0.5% for non-clustered firms. 
  2. Accelerated Growth: The Global Cluster Observatory reported that companies in innovation clusters experience 2.5 times faster employment growth and generate 18% higher gross value added (GVA) compared to non-clustered firms. 
  3. Scale and Supply Chain Efficiency: Collaboration within clusters can result in up to a 48% reduction in supply chain lead time, positively impacting productivity, as published in the International Journal of Production Economics.

Unlocking the Potential: B4PIC Network’s offer and added value 

B4PIC candidates will be engaged in an evolution or transformation process to enhance their maturity levels. Participants can benefit from:

  • Improved visibility towards the European Commission and the major European stakeholders from across the built environment.
  • Facilitate adoption and uptake of innovative solutions aligned with the New European Bauhaus, thanks to increased awareness of the benefits of innovation and better access to co-financing. 
  • Intensified cross-sectoral and interdisciplinary peer learning from front runners, fostering cross-border cooperation and networking. 
  • Preparation for long-lasting activities within the network of B4P Innovation Clusters, with integration opportunities for subsequent clusters.

Key services and support 

The set-up of this new B4PIC network is supported by the NEBULA project. Funded by the Built4People Partnership, as part of the NEBULA, supports B4PIC candidate clusters with a dedicated timeline and step-by-step integration of the 6 B4PIC success factors, helping clusters to reach maturity levels faster.

NEBULA provides a range of key services to assist clusters on their transformative journey, including:

  • Finance toolbox encompassing public and private funding of innovation
  • Match-making sessions to foster valuable connections 
  • Capacity-building workshops tailored for clusters 
  • Handbook for the New European Bauhaus (NEB)
  • NEB Advisors to support and promote events and materials
  • Peer-learning webinars
  • Dedicated clusters module on the METABUILDING platform 
  • Identification and promotion of EU-funded innovations. 

How can clusters join the B4PIC network? 

Existing hubs or clusters across Europe are invited to complete an expression of interest form. Upon submission, applicants will receive further information regarding the subsequent steps to initiate the application process.

The firsts members of the Built4People Innovation Cluster network, ERAIKUNE (Basque Country Construction Cluster) and ODEYS (Cluster construction et aménagements durables in Nouvelle-Aquitaine), signed the B4PIC charter, confirming their participation in the network on 18 September 2023. These clusters will collaborate to mobilise innovation in the building and construction sector in the Euroregion Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Euskadi, Navarra.

For inquiries about the process, please contact

Paul CARTUYVELS, Bouygues Europe Executive Director and ECTP President:

“For us at Bouygues, innovation is at the very core of our business model as we strive to meet the major challenges facing our customers and society and to speed up our response to environmental challenges. That is why we support the efforts of the Built4People partnership and the NEBULA project and welcome the launch of this new international network of innovation clusters and the potential it brings for new collaborations and rapid scaling of new solutions.”

Thomas Fuhr, Chief Technology Officer, Uponor:

“Uponor is committed to a step change in innovation and new technology development, and we recognise that this requires creating synergies across our business and beyond. Collaboration is key to sustainable business development and partnerships like Built4People, and this new network of innovation clusters can help businesses like ours to work with partners and customers to lead the construction industry towards net zero.”

Fernando Sigchos Jiménez, Secretary General, European Builders Confederation:

“EBC represents the interests of the building sector’s micro, small and medium-sized entrepreneurs to ensure they can play their part in helping the European Union respond to challenges such as job growth, youth unemployment, digital economy, energy efficiency, circular economy and more – goals that are well aligned with the Built4People Partnership. We welcome the formation of this new network of innovation clusters for the opportunity it offers construction SMEs to get closer to the innovation community, to generate ever more useful synergies to meet the challenge of massive renovation of Europe’s built environment and buildings.”




For further information contact:

Tessa Eydmann-Peel, Marketing and Communications Manager, WorldGBC


T: +447932491571



About European Construction, built environment, and energy-efficient buildings Technology Platform (ECTP) 

ECTP brings together the built environment and construction industry stakeholders to promote innovation in the sector. By fostering interdisciplinary collaboration and cooperation, ECTP aims to enhance the competitiveness and sustainability of the European built environment.

About WorldGBC

The World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) is the largest and most influential local-regional-global action network, leading the transformation to sustainable and decarbonised built environments for everyone, everywhere.
Together, with 75+ Green Building Councils and industry partners from all around the world, we are driving systemic changes to:
Address whole life carbon emissions of existing and new buildings

  • Enable resilient, healthy, equitable and inclusive places 
  • Secure regenerative, resource-efficient and waste-free built environments

We work with businesses, organisations and governments to deliver on the ambitions of the Paris Agreement and UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development (SDGs). 

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About the Architects’ Council of Europe

The Architects’ Council of Europe (ACE) is the representative organisation for the architectural profession at European level: it aspires to speak with a single voice on its behalf in order to achieve its aims.
Its growing membership currently consists of 51 Member Organisations, which are the regulatory and professional representative bodies in all European Union (EU) Member States, Accession Countries, the UK, Switzerland and Norway, and 5 Observers Members Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine, Montenegro, RH of Macedonia). Through them, the ACE represents the interests of over half a million architects from 35 countries in Europe.

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About R2M Solution

R2M is a research and innovation company passionate about making the world a better place. Half of its activities are in Research and Innovation – the realisation of new knowledge, products and services typically in the framework of collaborative European research. The other half focuses on the commercialisation, early adoption and scaling of new products and services that disrupt markets and solve problems. R2M operates most in the sustainability sector where it is deeply engaged in energy, buildings, construction and the smart grid. It also works in the Green Building Council and are distributors on its territories for some of Europe’s most exciting tools and technologies.


The R2M major role in NEBULA is to cooperate with NEB and Knowledge sharing on the NEB platform, identification of innovations with high market potential, analysis of fundraising opportunities and coordinated participation in events.

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About Dowel Innovation

We are a cooperative consulting company specialising in Innovation Strategy and Management. We work as a team, in a spirit of collaboration and mutual support. The environmental transition is at the heart of our business and our values. We provide a range of services relating to all phases of the innovation lifecycle, with a specialisation in low carbon energy systems, sustainable and smart cities and energy efficient buildings.

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The French Institute for Energy and Environmental Transition in the Construction Industry is an applied research centre that aspires to drive and facilitate mutations in the building industry to guarantee a viable future. The ambition is to be the leading partner for those seeking to increase their environmental and social commitment. The mission is to design and transfer, with conviction and inventiveness, new models, products and services for sustainable construction and renovation.

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TECNALIA is the largest centre of applied research and technological development in Spain, a benchmark in Europe and a member of the Basque Research and Technology Alliance. We collaborate with companies and institutions to improve their competitiveness, people’s quality of life and achieve sustainable growth.

 TECNALIA contributes to the positive transformation and development of the city and the region through a set of urban solutions serving a smart city vision, and the application of high-impact state-of-the-art technologies. And it advocates for a people-centred urban model aligned with the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals.


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