Circular X is an ambitious 5-year research project focused on experimentation with circular service business models. It is funded by the European Research Council (ERC) which supports top researchers from anywhere in the world.

With increasing pressures on resources and the climate it is clear that a new way of doing business is needed. The circular economy is a potential key driver for sustainability and competitiveness. In contrast to the current ‘linear economy’, materials are kept at their highest utility at all times. Despite great policy, business and academic interest, knowledge on how to ‘implement’ the Circular Economy in business is lacking. Project Circular X addresses a new and urgent issue in sustainability research: experimentation with circular service business models.

Examples of such new business models include companies shifting from selling products to selling services and introducing lifelong warrantees to extend product lifetimes. However, circular service business models are far from mainstream and experimentation focused on experimentation with new circular service business models is little understood. Project Circular X will develop a new field in sustainability studies focused on experimentation. It aims to conduct interdisciplinary research in at least 3 continents and 5 countries (the Netherlands, UK, Sweden, China and USA) with 4 objectives:

  1. Advancing understanding of circular service business models; their emergence and impacts
  2. Advancing knowledge on circular service business models experimentation
  3. Developing circular service business models experimentation tools
  4. Designing and deploying circular service business models experimentation labs

Through its comprehensive international approach, project Circular X aims to deeply advance understandings on how circular service business models manifest themselves in business and how these can be experimented with, which will ultimately advance business activities towards a circular economy transition.

Nancy Bocken

Nancy Bocken

Principal investigator/ project lead

Nancy Bocken is Professor in Sustainable Business at Maastricht Sustainability Institute, Maastricht University. She is also visiting professor at Lund University, Sweden and LUT University Finland, and Fellow at the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership. She is co-founder of HOMIE, a ‘pay-per-use’ business pursuing the circular economy. Nancy's research evolves around the broad field of Sustainable Business, including topics like sustainable business models, business experiments, Circular Economy, sufficiency, and closing the 'idea-action' gap in sustainability through novel tools and approaches. She is the Principal Investigator of Circular X which focuses on ‘experimenting with circular service business models’.

Deanna Han

Deanna Han

PhD student

Deanna is a PhD student in circular business models under the ERC funded Circular X project at the Maastricht Sustainability Institute. Prior to her PhD studies, she completed a BSc in Chemistry at York University in Canada. In 2018, Deanna obtained an MSc in Carbon Management from the University of Edinburgh, finishing with distinction. Her dissertation was on exploring the role of stakeholders in circular entrepreneurship in Denmark. Since graduation, she co-founded a consultancy start-up that helps organizations mitigate their emissions through negative emissions technologies.

Jan Konietzko

Jan Konietzko

Research fellow

Jan researches how organizations can innovate their business models for a circular economy and sustainability. He has a Ph.D. from Delft University of Technology in Industrial Design Engineering and a M.Sc. in Sustainability Economics and Management from Leipzig University. Within Circular X, Jan continues his quest to show businesses how they can innovate in more connected, inter-organizational and environmentally friendly ways.

Ankita Das

Ankita Das

PhD student

Ankita is a PhD student in Circular Business Model Experimentation at Maastricht Sustainability Institute. She is originally from Odisha, India and has a BSc. in Zoology & Biochemistry. She moved to Europe in 2017 to pursue an Erasmus Mundus Joint Master’s in Environmental Sciences, Policy & Management. During her Master’s she extensively studied the practical applications of sustainability practices, across three European Universities. Since then, she has worked in various roles, as a consultant for universities, consultancies and UNIDO, and co-founded a circular water reuse start-up in Sweden. Under Circular X, her current research focuses on exploring how companies can forecast the environmental impact of their circular business model ideas, during the experimentation phase.

Marc Dijk

Marc Dijk

Assistant professor in Innovation & Sustainability at Maastricht Sustainability Institute at Maastricht University Honorable Research Associate at Oxford University (School of Geography and the Environment, Transport Studies Unit)

Marc’s main research interests are innovation and innovation policy, sustainability assessment and societal transformation. Currently he also works in an action- research project on Urban Living Labs experiments focused on learning and upscaling. He has published on innovation in electric mobility, urban mobility, solar energy and resource efficiency. He teaches an integrative approach to sustainability assessment & innovation. It combines the understanding of stakeholders (perspectives, practices, etc.) with systems analysis (Qualitative Systems Analysis, Life Cycle Analysis, etc.). In Circular X, Marc supervises PhD-students and is excited to contribute to circular services innovation.

Laura Nießen

Laura Nießen

PhD student

Laura is a PhD student in circular business models under the ERC funded Circular X project at the Maastricht Sustainability Institute. Her background is interdisciplinary with a BA in European Studies and an MSc in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Sciences. For the last two years, Laura worked on circular economy research and policy in Ireland. She was based at the interface of research and application, providing support for circular economy business development. Her PhD research aims to investigate how circular economy business models can drive sustainable consumption through sufficiency-based approaches.