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Living Labs help to achieve more sustainable business

The CIRC4Life project, funded through the European Commission’s Horizon2020 programme, was launched in spring 2018. The project develops and tests circular economy business models. Antti Ainamo, the project manager at Laurea, describes the project.

What is the baseline of the project?

‘The accelerating climate change makes it necessary to develop more sustainable business models. The project focuses on three business models that are based on both common sense and research data: (1) co-creation of products and services, (2) recycling and reuse of materials and (3) more sustainable consumption.

Partners and stakeholders representing industry and primary production participate in the project to develop these different business models. The project involves four cases representing very different industries, relating to the development of production chains for meat production and organic farming as well as the circulation of tablet computers and LED lights. Two of the cases are in Spain and two in England.’

What is Laurea's role in the project? 

‘Laurea participates in this project, because the European Commission values Laurea’s world-class living lab expertise.

We participate in the establishment of a living lab for each case. What this means in practice is that, for instance, we build a parallel production line in a Spanish abattoir.

We aim to establish an efficient new method that promotes sustainable business and sustainable consumption – achieving both of these goals at best. Living lab is like a test laboratory. It is an alternative, relatively low-scale way of operation. Efficiency and sustainability are compared with those of the traditional method. Observations and experiences are analysed and the results are used for business development.’

What can Laurea learn from this project? 

‘Laurea has a long experience of living lab environments. We know the theoretical background, and we know how to run living labs. Each project provides the opportunity to analyse how the living lab methodology could be further developed and how it could be used to better respond to bigger challenges, such as the achievement of sustainability.

We test which practices are efficient. What is new for this project is that we will have the opportunity to genuinely participate in the development of sustainable business models in practice and gain new experiences. The objective of learning in this way is to find new ways for more general development of living lab expertise.’

How will the project progress from here ?

‘The project and our contribution to it are starting to become reality: we will arrange an innovation camp for the project consortium in Krakow, Poland in November. After the camp, we will start helping our partner companies to set up a living lab environment, more or less simultaneously at four locations – two of them in England and two in Spain, as I already explained. In each case, the test laboratories will be bustling with activity for about six months.’

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