Sustainable business models

Sustainable business models are an essential building block in the transformation of the market economy, replacing fossil with biogenic raw materials, optimizing resource use and closing loops. In developing sustainable business models, long-term impacts of business activities on the environment and society are taken into account. The goal of entrepreneurs and managers is to reconcile the economic development of startups and established companies with their environmental and social responsibility. Examples are sharing models, circular designs or upcycling.

>> In our research we investigate, among other, the factors influencing the acceptance of sustainable business models by companies and consumers as well as the heuristics of founders and managers when creating business models.

Crowdsourcing for Climate Action

In order to respond to the major challenges of climate change, it is crucial to find innovative solutions that protect the climate. To do this, society can be actively involved with the help of crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing can be used to gather contributions (e.g., ideas, votes, finances) from a large group of diverse people (e.g., consumers, citizens). Typical types of crowdsourcing include idea contests, citizen science, and crowdfunding.

>> In our research, we focus on how people can be motivated to participate in Crowdsourcing for Climate Action, how votes can be used by the crowd for decision-making processes, and how crowd-generated data can be combined with machine learning algorithms.

Socio-economic Research on Innovation in the Bioeconomy

Innovation requires technological solutions and social adaptation. The bioeconomy thus builds on the innovation potential of producers and consumers. With a focus on wood, the most important raw material of the bioeconomy in terms of quantity, we investigate the economic, ecological and social environment for innovation in the forest-related sector.

>> Our research aims to support the diffusion of innovation, for example by identifying barriers to and acceptance of new technologies and by anticipating the effects of innovations in terms of environmental aspects, social effects and market dynamics.

>> We generate contextual knowledge, even at early stages of technological maturity, when there is still sufficient room to (re)orient research and development towards specific goals. This is important in order to avoid the unintended effects of innovations and to create competitiveness.

Decision Support in Innovation Management

When it comes to product innovations in the bioeconomy, it is necessary to have a valid assessment of the significance of individual product attributes. This is the only way to ensure that innovations will be accepted by consumers. The use of appropriate research methods, such as experimental study designs like Discrete Choice Modeling, can greatly help to guarantee that the right attributes are addressed from the customer's point of view. In addition, research and practice need adequate decision support systems for improved, transparent and efficient decision making on all issues that may arise in the context of innovation management.

>> In our research, we provide scientifically sound decision-making assistance that can effectively support corporate innovation management in the bioeconomy.

Trends and Product Innovation

Consumers' eating habits are subject to constant change, reflecting profound changes in underlying values and consumer habits. Examples of this are the increasing importance of animal welfare, the rise in vegetarian/vegan diets, questions of regional origin or the issue of allergens and food intolerances. Here, trend research provides important information about changes in society that are relevant for the entire food value chain.

>> In our research we ask how farmers and food companies can harness these trends for product innovation and to improve their competitiveness.