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Circular European Economy Innovative Training Network

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CircEuit (Circular European Economy Innovative Training Network)

Reporting period: 2016-09-01 to 2018-08-31

We will not be able to deplete and squander resources indefinitely. Ways to maintain the value of products and materials in the economy much longer can be found, for example, through business models that capitalise on the longevity of goods. An EU-funded training network is fostering new research on a more circular economy.
The Circ€uit project focuses on circular business models – and on a group of PhD students determined to generate new knowledge about ways to create them. In total, 15 early-stage researchers are involved in this training network.
Each of these researchers is addressing a specific topic in one of five areas relevant to the circular economy. These overarching themes include businesses and business models, and more specifically ways of stimulating circular provisioning. Two further categories are dedicated, respectively, to users and supply chains. The projects being tackled by a fourth group of young researchers relate to the design of circular value propositions. A fifth and final set of research projects is exploring aspects of the bigger picture, in terms of the macroeconomic implications of the circular economy and of system changes needed to support it.
Seven academic institutions are involved in the consortium, which is led by Leiden University in the Netherlands. In line with the partners’ emphasis on fostering industry-academia partnership in support of the training of early-stage researchers, the network includes two participants from the private sector. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, set up in 2009 to champion the concept of a circular economy, is also a member. Circ€uit was launched in September 2016. The deliverables all have been provided. Some smaller deviations from the planning include the following:
a) Three successful PhD Schools have been organised. We wanted to organise Schools where possible back to back to a relevant conference. For this reason the 2nd school was organised by Cranfield instead of Aston – Aston will organise the Spring School in 2019 back to back to their Spring Servitization conference.
b) The third School has been organised in conjunction with the mid-term review. Since Cranfield organised the second school, this third school is organised by Linköping university since by doing so we could organise it back to back to the CIRP conference they organise in May 2018. This is a conference highly relevant for the Circ€uit ESRs, and many ESRs and supervisors used this opportunity to visit the CIRP conference.
c) All ESR’s have been recruited.
d) The project website is operational and the dissemination plan is provided via the participant portal.

Most ESRs make satisfactory progress and are well on track with having written a first paper for their PhDs; some of them already have published one. Circ€uit has been present via various PhDs or supervisors at at least 6 major conferences since the start of the project.
We distinguish five main perspectives that are particularly relevant for a transition towards circular PSS business models and on which the research of the 15 ESRs will contribute to the state of the art:
1. Business models (ESR 1-3; lead: Aston Business School): . New ways are required to organise and value businesses and services. In addition to the businesses involved along the value chain, the interactions with design, user and system are explicitly taken into account. The core research question here is: How to create business value by circular provisioning?
2. Supply chains (ESR 4-6; lead: Cranfield University). The role and weight of players along the supply chain will change, especially asking for developments in the areas of services, reverse logistics and remanufacturing. New ways of data acquisition and data management need to be implemented The core research question here is: How can we organize supply and delivery chains for circularity?
3. User (ESR 7-9; lead: NTNU), i.e consumer (B2C), user (B2B) or government (B2G), but also stakeholders like retailers, or interest organisations and other NGOs. Social and behavioural practices have to be better considered to determine if a circular value proposition is going to be successful. Awareness creation in the public and corporate domain is of high importance. A focus on users is then necessary – of course including end-users, but also on other actors in the value chain. The core research question here is: How can we stimulate, facilitate and motivate circular consumption?
4. Design (ESR 10-12; lead: Linköping University) of circular solutions – products that are for example suitable for inclusion in PSSs, or for upgrading, reuse, refurbishing or remanufacturing may require different design strategies, user involvement processes, assembly and disassembly processes, and marketing strategies compared to more traditional products. Using new technologies and ways of communication will be enablers. The core research question here is: How can we design circular value propositions (products, services or PSS)?
5. System (ESR 12-15; lead: Leiden University). For assessment of socio-economic and environmental aspects the larger system is relevant to avoid sub-optimisation in a small segment with adverse effects elsewhere. Scenario building and simulation tools for circular economy need to be further developed to support decision making when trade-offs occur. The core research question here is: How to ensure economic and environmental benefits and support change related to circularity?