In order to create a sustainable future, society relies on companies finding new and innovative solutions that can help consumers live more sustainable lives. Such solutions involve a transition from old to new business models, in a way that enables consumers to change consumption habits.
This project has comprised innovation and business experimentation for a more sustainable and circular future. The project has addressed questions such as how plastic-packaging can be reduced or avoided in consumer goods, and how it can be possible to produce and consume products in a way that allows for the reuse of products, components and packaging. Furthermore, the project has investigated digital business models that can enable the digital platforms that make circular resource flows possible. In this way, the project has created knowledge about how more sustainable lifestyles can be made possible by new and innovative solutions on the part of companies.
The project is a collaboration between the companies Orkla Home & Personal Care and WasteIQ (which has changed its name to Carrot during the project period), as well as the research institutions NHH Norwegian School of Economics and the Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences.
The project has led to the design of new concepts, several pilots of new business models have been tested, and since launched in the market. These include in-store solutions for refill of consumer goods, smart packaging solutions, digital infrastructures for fine-grained sorting of waste in business buildings, as well as service-based models for fast-moving consumer goods.
The effects of the research and innovation projects in #sustainX have been considerable, both from the point of view of knowledge development from the research and the applied, knowledge-based decision making that has informed business model experimentation and innovation processes in the two partner firms and beyond. Furthermore, the innovation carried out in and between the partner firms have spillover effects into their respective industries, and – through the dissemination activities of the project – into other industries.
For the research partners, the project has led to considerable research production – some of which is already published and some of which is still under review or in preparation. In summary, two PhD dissertations, two books, five papers, four papers in review, six practitioner articles, and a vast amount of dissemination articles, podcasts and videos have been developed. These footprints both on academic outputs and research dissemination for society at large are important outcomes from the project.
Crucially, the fact that research projects in #sustainX have been linked to ongoing business model innovation and experimentation processes with business partners, has allowed for unique data access for the research partners. This has led to data collection both through field experiments, in quantitative and qualitative explorations of ongoing innovation projects and so on. This has further strengthened both the competence, experience and publication ability of the research teams both at NHH and HINN.
For the business partners, the project has led to several successful innovation efforts – both within and between the two business partners. The most comprehensive and tangible outcome is the establishment of a new company in the Orkla corporate structure – på(fyll). Carrot has been very involved in the innovation efforts leading up to this. Orkla have also launched other services in the marketplace as a consequence of innovation projects in #sustainX. For Carrot, there has been considerable positive effects on its opportunities to market their technologies and solutions. A key outcome has been has centered on Carrot’s “Waste-free buildings” innovation project, in which Thon Eiendom has been a partner. This company has subsequently become a customer of Carrot in one of its largest contracts thus far.
For society at large, the outcomes of this research project can have large societal value because it has developed knowledge on how companies across different industries can develop and implement more circular business models. The ripple effects of these research and innovation efforts influence the customers of both companies, in the case of Orkla, by enabling more sustainable lifestyles in daily consumption choices, and in the case of Carrot, by allowing a more truly circular flow of resources through the waste management systems of municipalities, businesses and so on.
Corporate managers are faced by a daunting practical challenge: How can they improve the sustainability performance of their companies by embracing more sustainable business practices, while at the same time remaining competitive in the market by making those offerings attractive to their customers? This requires the successful design and implementation of more sustainable business models, which necessitates innovation, experimentation and collaboration.
Based on the objectives outlined above, the project comprises three WPs. WP1, "Innovative by Design", comprises research and innovation processes on product/service and packaging design, and on consumer preferences. WP2, "Experimental by Design", comprises pilots on strategically relevant business decisions by means of lab and field experiments in stores/restaurants and online. WP3, "Collaborative by Design", comprises knowledge-sharing and -diffusing activities the project to companies beyond the consortium of project partners. Together, these three WPs will lead to the implementation of innovations in the partner companies and actionable knowledge and insights for broader application.
The corporate partners include a leading producer of fast-moving consumer goods (Orkla) and an innovative tech start-up in waste management (WasteIQ), as well as two research partners (NHH and HINN) specialized on the transition to more sustainable business models.
The partners share the view that the challenge of sustainable value creation is not primarily a lack of technological or practical solutions, but how such solutions are integrated into business models that facilitate green consumer behavior. We build on the premise that green innovation requires green behavioral change, and investigate factors that enable green production and consumption in the partner companies and beyond.