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Co-creation, one of CIRC4Life’s business models, is a methodology for integrating stakeholders’ feedback in the development of new products and services.

This business model aims to bring end-users closer to the design and manufacturing phases by identifying their preferences and needs. It also fosters an improved understanding of the interactions between the different actors of the supply chain.

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Q: What do you think the main achievements of this innovative circular BM are?

A: In my view one of the main achievements is the eco-cost and eco-credit approach which encourages sustainable consumption by rewarding consumers who adopt circular practices such as recycling or reusing their waste. Another interesting achievement of this model is the implementation of a leasing service which aims to extend the life of industrial lighting products and integrates circular economy in the design and use phases. The ICT tools and solutions developed in this business model, e.g. the online LCA and the Impact Assessment Tool, greatly helped to improve product efficiency and to reduce emissions throughout the manufacturing process and are ready to be introduced in real life business scenarios.


Q: What were the main challenges you were confronted with on your journey towards making this BM a reality?

A: It was quite challenging to develop a set of circular business model solutions applicable to different business sectors (e.g. LED lighting, vegetables). But a series of stakeholder involvement activities, based on the Living Lab methodology, allowed participating businesses and technical development teams to go through an iterative learning process to create innovative solutions for their own supply chain. Each of the participating business partners illustrate the fact that this process leads to eco-innovation providing significant reductions in environmental impact. Our project demonstrations also showed that this circular co-creation business model can generate sustainable revenue streams.

Q: In your opinion, what were the most important innovations that resulted from your work for the CIRC4Life project.

A: To me, one of the most innovative aspects of CIRC4Life has been the introduction of the eco-accounting framework, which enables interaction with end-users and key business actors throughout the supply chain. It’s an attractive concept which lies within the circular economy, but other non-linear concepts might also be valuable. It can be related to increased resource efficiency as well as to improved energy efficiency as the framework enables to monitor the impact root through the whole supply chain and provide corresponding mitigation solutions. To deal with the complexity of eco-accounting, an iterative Living Lab approach supports good practices to gradually reduce uncertainties and instead build trust by making assumptions explicit and validating them. Iterative learning and validation make companies more agile and flexible to adapt to the fast-changing conditions of technology, markets, capabilities etc.

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Wu, You

Research Fellow, Nottingham Trent University

CIRC4Life Co-creation Business Model Owner

Q: What was the most successful way in which you engaged with end-users?

A: Overall, more than 2700 end-users were engaged and involved in the project through the Living Lab activities. Successful Living Labs are characterized by multi-stakeholder participation, user-centered innovation process, real-life settings, systematic multi-method approach and iterative co-creation process. Detailed analysis of the 54 different Living Lab activities shows that all key components were systematically present in the CIRC4Life project. During these activities, the user-centered approach has been utilized both as design for users (via surveys, interviews, and activities to collect user preferences and attitudes) and design with users, when users were active participants of the co-creation process, for example, via Service Jams or co-creation and prototyping workshops.


In my view there isn’t a single most successful method or activity that has taken place during the project, as the successful outcomes are reached by a combination of different living lab activities, each tailored to build up the knowledge towards informed design decisions and respond to the development needs identified in the previous activities and project phases. However, if I had to name just one activity, one of my favorites was the CIRC4Life Design challenge, which engaged the design community and users in finding solutions to the following questions: ‘How can we make sustainability information of a product visual and easy to understand?’ and ‘What kind of sustainability visualization would have an impact on consumers' purchasing decisions?’, while utilizing the eco-point approach developed by the project.

Looking back at the project, the learnings from Living Lab implementation in CIRC4Life clearly indicate the importance of systematic engagement of all relevant stakeholders, especially end-users, into the development process from the early stages up until the market launch. The results also confirm that interactions between the developers and end-users are the key to customer acceptance.

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Aletta Purola

Research & Development Manager

Laurea University of Applied Sciences (Finland)

CIRC4Life Co-creation Business Model Owner

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