ProjectEco-sustainable business models

Application Areas
Eco-sustainable business models

One of the eco-environmental challenges we work with is to find ways to achieve the 4 to 10 fold resource efficiency needed in the industrialized part of the world before 2050. This can be achieved through for instance various forms of sharing schemes that increase the utility rate of products. It can be achieved through concepts like refuse, reduce, reuse, refurbish, remanufacture and recycle. However, in an industry where profits come from product sale, there is an inherent ambition to maximize the volume of products, i.e. resource flow. This is built in to the business model of most manufacturing firms.

But what if the company keep ownership of the product and sell the product's function - repeatedly to several customers over the product lifecycle? How would that affect attractiveness, product design logic, product and production cost and competitiveness?

In a project with Unicykel AB, a swedish manufacturer of bicycles, and Chalmers University of Technology, we have run a longitudinal interventionist project developing an eco-sustainable business model to meet low cost competition in a new product segment. The merits of an interventionist research approach is both learning-by-doing and the co-creation of knowledge with the company involved.

The one-year project started in early 2012 and was performed along the lines of the Customer Development Procedure (Blank, 2006; Ries, 2011; Furr and Ahlstrom, 2011; Blank & Dorf, 2012), and complemented by a traditional interview study performed in tandem in order to capture the challenges that showed up along the project. The first version of an electric bicycle, an attractive bicycle subscription and a tryout of the complete business model through dealers to a new customer segment for Unicykel are some of the project's outcomes.

Short film (in swedish):