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Mapping business catalysts that enable Circular Economy
business within industrial networks
The 35th IMP Conference – IESEG, Paris, France on 27-30 August 2019
Leena Aarikka-Stenroos
Valtteri Ranta
Tampere University, Finland
Circular Economy Catalysts:
From Innovation to Business
Ecosystems
Large 5 year project to study and advance the Circular
Economy Transition with research-based knowledge,
funded by the Academy of Finland (5 million euros)
www.cicat2025.fi
28.7.2020 3
Background for the study
• The circular economy (CE) has been identified as a potential pathway toward more
environmentally sustainable economic growth (MacArthur, 2013).
• Circular economy and sustainability is increasingly also in the focus of industrial network
and B2B research.
• CE aims to minimize waste and to extend the value of products and materials – thereby it
involves much innovation and technology development as well business development, as
it includes redesigning products, services, and business models (e.g. Ghisellini et al;
Urbinati et al.; Ranta et al.).
• The transition to CE and sustainable technologies is a crosscutting socio-technical
transition (Geels & Schot, 2007) in business and society.
28.7.2020 | 4
Taking business catalyst approach
• The sustainability and CE mega trend creates not only many opportunities for innovation
business but also challenges for making business from CE innovations, as it requires a
major, even disruptive shift from the current extractive linear economic model to circularity.
• There are inherent challenges to CE that complicate commercialization of CE innovation
and technologies.
• lower prices of virgin materials compared to recycled ones (Tura et al. 2019).
• CE innovations are also often radical, and are introduced in market conditions that are still
emerging (Ghisellini et al., 2016; Linder & Williander, 2017).
• In order to turn CE innovations into feasible business, new understanding on CE
innovation business and drivers that enable making profit from CE technologies needs to
be developed.
• Thereby, this study addresses CE business catalysts referring to economic,
business and value creation means and mechanisms that enable turning CE
technologies and innovation into business.
28.7.2020 | 5
Research gaps and theoretical background
• Research by this far, has not provided a comprehensive view on the business catalysts that
enable, facilitate and drive the emerging CE technology and innovation business.
• Most of the literature regarding CE innovation and technology has focused on
• sustainability aspects - understanding of CE as a sustainable, circular alternative model to the
currently dominant linear economy model (Ghisellini et al. 2016).
• business models that enable CE: product-service systems oriented models (Linder & Williander, 2017),
dual business models that involve waste management operations and sales of recycled materials
(Ranta et al. 2018), and business models involving information sharing between business partners to
improve efficiency (Tura et al., 2019).
• Very recent research has focused on
• how firms implement CE into their business and how CE creates business value to the firms that adopt
it (Ranta et al., 2018b; Tura et al., 2019).
• Furthermore, the current literature has mostly taken a negative approach to CE technology
and innovation business transitions, raising to the fore the barriers that exist for CE business
(e.g. Linder & Williander, 2017; Ranta et al. 2018a, Tura et al., 2019).
28.7.2020 | 6
Preliminary framework based on existing literature
28.7.2020 | 7
Catalyst approach and our RQ
• In this study we will intentionally choose a positive catalyst approach over the
conventional barrier approach (D'Este et al., 2012), as our goal is to uncover the
business mechanisms that can be then used as tools to enact CE transition and to support
stakeholders' efforts to realize the desired sustainability and CE shift.
Therefore, our research question is "What are the key business mechanisms that
particularly advance CE innovation/technology business and therefore can be considered
as business catalysts".
• The paper's scientific objective is
• to advance the theoretical understanding of the business catalysts enabling and accelerating the
emergence and development of CE innovation and technology business
• reaching this goal enables also reaching practical goal that is to advance the commercial success
of CE and sustainable technologies in industrial networks
28.7.2020 | 8
Methodology
• To reach the research goal, the study follows
qualitative research design and
multisourcing aiming to theory development
• The data comes from
• different CE business contexts (both business-
to-consumer and business-to-business) and
• industries (e.g. manufacturing, services) and
other settings (public and private business).
• Data has been gathered from Northern
Europe in 2017-2019.
• The data concerned particularly forerunner
cases and positive experiences; as such,
they provide fruitful bases to uncover
positive catalysts for CE technology
business
Data type Data source and more details on data
Interviews
(face-to-face and skype interviews,
lasting 1-2,5 hours)
14 Interviews among
Technology and innovation start-ups
Mature firms
Industry experts
Ministry representatives
Representatives from NGOs (such as SITRA
and industry associations, MOTIVA)
Representatives from municipalities and
cities
Representatives of funding organizations
Focus group discussions and
workshop discussions
(face-to-face discussions among 5-10
representatives from company,
industry, ministry, NGO or funding
organizations, lasting 45 minutes to 2
hours)
8 workshops (enabling focus group discussion and
ethnographic follow-up)
Workshop (Construction material flow) HSY
2017 Helsinki
Workshop (Digitalization of CE) Sitra 2018
Helsinki
Workshop (Land mass flow) 2018 Tampere
Workshop (Zero fiber) 2018 Tampere
Workshop (Sludge and nutrient recycling)
LSJH Turku 2018
Workhop , Oulu 2019
Workshop (Eco-industrial parks), Nokia 2019
Workshop (Ash recycling), Espoo 2017
Ethnographic follow-up Visiting sites and living labs in the field of CE: e.g.
zero fiber living lab in Hiedanranta district, Tampere,
Finland; ECO3 Ecoindustrial park, Nokia, Finland;
Kemi-Tornio industrial symbiosis center, Kemi-Tornio,
Finland
Other materials from industry
presentatives and other stakeholders
Presentation materials; company data and reports;
media data; and research reports
28.7.2020 | 9
Results: Business catalysts identified from the
data
1. Exchange catalysts - create and enhance supply and demand.
2. Value creation catalysts that improve or increase value creation for customers and
stakeholders, for example branding.
3. Competence catalysts - advice managers in commercialization and internationalization
and
4. Business model catalysts that ensure value capture and profitability
5. Collaboration catalysts address to networking with others value chain formation to
enable a resource-saving loop
Plus
1. Market creation catalysts originate from regulation and changes in the industry system,
and enable making business in novel ways.
2. Strategy catalysts (technology and business strategies)
28.7.2020 | 10
Results:
Key business
catalyst
types
28.7.2020 | 11
Conclusions and implications
• Key findings: Our study identifies a comprehensive set of business catalysts that initiate and
enhance CE technology and innovation business – these may be solutions to barriers that has
been identified in the extant literature
• Theoretical contributions to several streams of research
• B2B and industrial network research as we structure recent discussion and identify business
catalysts across industries.
• the sustainability research that has acknowledged the need for business drivers (e.g. Bocken et al.
2018, 2019; Patala et al. 2016) but has not yet identified nor categorized their types.
• the CE transition literature (Ghisellini et al. 2016) we identify multiple catalysts that drive the system-
level transition forward and departure from the firm-level perspective.
• Practical implications:
• The business catalysts identified in this study can be used as instruments that will enable companies,
industry associations, cities and policymakers to accelerate CE transitions and enable sustainable
business growth on multiple sectors and industries.
• Future research: Customer related CE business catalyst (e.g. customer value or customer
experience catalysts) needs to be studied further – they are critical but the research here is non-
existing as it is biased more on business model and supplier perspectives. 28.7.2020 | 12
Thank you!
leena.aarikka-stenroos@tuni.fi

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Business catalysts for the Circular Economy innovations

  • 1. Mapping business catalysts that enable Circular Economy business within industrial networks The 35th IMP Conference – IESEG, Paris, France on 27-30 August 2019 Leena Aarikka-Stenroos Valtteri Ranta Tampere University, Finland
  • 2. Circular Economy Catalysts: From Innovation to Business Ecosystems Large 5 year project to study and advance the Circular Economy Transition with research-based knowledge, funded by the Academy of Finland (5 million euros) www.cicat2025.fi
  • 4. Background for the study • The circular economy (CE) has been identified as a potential pathway toward more environmentally sustainable economic growth (MacArthur, 2013). • Circular economy and sustainability is increasingly also in the focus of industrial network and B2B research. • CE aims to minimize waste and to extend the value of products and materials – thereby it involves much innovation and technology development as well business development, as it includes redesigning products, services, and business models (e.g. Ghisellini et al; Urbinati et al.; Ranta et al.). • The transition to CE and sustainable technologies is a crosscutting socio-technical transition (Geels & Schot, 2007) in business and society. 28.7.2020 | 4
  • 5. Taking business catalyst approach • The sustainability and CE mega trend creates not only many opportunities for innovation business but also challenges for making business from CE innovations, as it requires a major, even disruptive shift from the current extractive linear economic model to circularity. • There are inherent challenges to CE that complicate commercialization of CE innovation and technologies. • lower prices of virgin materials compared to recycled ones (Tura et al. 2019). • CE innovations are also often radical, and are introduced in market conditions that are still emerging (Ghisellini et al., 2016; Linder & Williander, 2017). • In order to turn CE innovations into feasible business, new understanding on CE innovation business and drivers that enable making profit from CE technologies needs to be developed. • Thereby, this study addresses CE business catalysts referring to economic, business and value creation means and mechanisms that enable turning CE technologies and innovation into business. 28.7.2020 | 5
  • 6. Research gaps and theoretical background • Research by this far, has not provided a comprehensive view on the business catalysts that enable, facilitate and drive the emerging CE technology and innovation business. • Most of the literature regarding CE innovation and technology has focused on • sustainability aspects - understanding of CE as a sustainable, circular alternative model to the currently dominant linear economy model (Ghisellini et al. 2016). • business models that enable CE: product-service systems oriented models (Linder & Williander, 2017), dual business models that involve waste management operations and sales of recycled materials (Ranta et al. 2018), and business models involving information sharing between business partners to improve efficiency (Tura et al., 2019). • Very recent research has focused on • how firms implement CE into their business and how CE creates business value to the firms that adopt it (Ranta et al., 2018b; Tura et al., 2019). • Furthermore, the current literature has mostly taken a negative approach to CE technology and innovation business transitions, raising to the fore the barriers that exist for CE business (e.g. Linder & Williander, 2017; Ranta et al. 2018a, Tura et al., 2019). 28.7.2020 | 6
  • 7. Preliminary framework based on existing literature 28.7.2020 | 7
  • 8. Catalyst approach and our RQ • In this study we will intentionally choose a positive catalyst approach over the conventional barrier approach (D'Este et al., 2012), as our goal is to uncover the business mechanisms that can be then used as tools to enact CE transition and to support stakeholders' efforts to realize the desired sustainability and CE shift. Therefore, our research question is "What are the key business mechanisms that particularly advance CE innovation/technology business and therefore can be considered as business catalysts". • The paper's scientific objective is • to advance the theoretical understanding of the business catalysts enabling and accelerating the emergence and development of CE innovation and technology business • reaching this goal enables also reaching practical goal that is to advance the commercial success of CE and sustainable technologies in industrial networks 28.7.2020 | 8
  • 9. Methodology • To reach the research goal, the study follows qualitative research design and multisourcing aiming to theory development • The data comes from • different CE business contexts (both business- to-consumer and business-to-business) and • industries (e.g. manufacturing, services) and other settings (public and private business). • Data has been gathered from Northern Europe in 2017-2019. • The data concerned particularly forerunner cases and positive experiences; as such, they provide fruitful bases to uncover positive catalysts for CE technology business Data type Data source and more details on data Interviews (face-to-face and skype interviews, lasting 1-2,5 hours) 14 Interviews among Technology and innovation start-ups Mature firms Industry experts Ministry representatives Representatives from NGOs (such as SITRA and industry associations, MOTIVA) Representatives from municipalities and cities Representatives of funding organizations Focus group discussions and workshop discussions (face-to-face discussions among 5-10 representatives from company, industry, ministry, NGO or funding organizations, lasting 45 minutes to 2 hours) 8 workshops (enabling focus group discussion and ethnographic follow-up) Workshop (Construction material flow) HSY 2017 Helsinki Workshop (Digitalization of CE) Sitra 2018 Helsinki Workshop (Land mass flow) 2018 Tampere Workshop (Zero fiber) 2018 Tampere Workshop (Sludge and nutrient recycling) LSJH Turku 2018 Workhop , Oulu 2019 Workshop (Eco-industrial parks), Nokia 2019 Workshop (Ash recycling), Espoo 2017 Ethnographic follow-up Visiting sites and living labs in the field of CE: e.g. zero fiber living lab in Hiedanranta district, Tampere, Finland; ECO3 Ecoindustrial park, Nokia, Finland; Kemi-Tornio industrial symbiosis center, Kemi-Tornio, Finland Other materials from industry presentatives and other stakeholders Presentation materials; company data and reports; media data; and research reports 28.7.2020 | 9
  • 10. Results: Business catalysts identified from the data 1. Exchange catalysts - create and enhance supply and demand. 2. Value creation catalysts that improve or increase value creation for customers and stakeholders, for example branding. 3. Competence catalysts - advice managers in commercialization and internationalization and 4. Business model catalysts that ensure value capture and profitability 5. Collaboration catalysts address to networking with others value chain formation to enable a resource-saving loop Plus 1. Market creation catalysts originate from regulation and changes in the industry system, and enable making business in novel ways. 2. Strategy catalysts (technology and business strategies) 28.7.2020 | 10
  • 12. Conclusions and implications • Key findings: Our study identifies a comprehensive set of business catalysts that initiate and enhance CE technology and innovation business – these may be solutions to barriers that has been identified in the extant literature • Theoretical contributions to several streams of research • B2B and industrial network research as we structure recent discussion and identify business catalysts across industries. • the sustainability research that has acknowledged the need for business drivers (e.g. Bocken et al. 2018, 2019; Patala et al. 2016) but has not yet identified nor categorized their types. • the CE transition literature (Ghisellini et al. 2016) we identify multiple catalysts that drive the system- level transition forward and departure from the firm-level perspective. • Practical implications: • The business catalysts identified in this study can be used as instruments that will enable companies, industry associations, cities and policymakers to accelerate CE transitions and enable sustainable business growth on multiple sectors and industries. • Future research: Customer related CE business catalyst (e.g. customer value or customer experience catalysts) needs to be studied further – they are critical but the research here is non- existing as it is biased more on business model and supplier perspectives. 28.7.2020 | 12