PhD Summer School on circular business models in the chemical industry
August 20 – Sept 2, 2017, Gothenburg and Frankfurt

For 2017 the application has been closed.

Turn your research into practice and create climate and business impact with our PhD Summer School on Sustainable Production Systems. The industrial sector uses a large part of raw materials and more than half of the global energy consumption. Where better than here could innovations lead to meaningful transitions? Apply the concepts of closed-loop value chains and circular economy to innovation processes for one of the major manufacturing industries in Europe: the chemical industry which will serve as a case study for the two-week programme. Engage with stakeholders, discuss with experts, work in interdisciplinary teams and develop innovative solutions for the real-life challenges of chemical companies and clusters. 

The Challenge
The established industry faces changing market demands and new requirements regarding sustainable usage of material and feedstock. Circular economy models, focusing on the integration of different players along the entire value chain, become an important tool in meeting these demands. At the same time, they require to create new partnerships and new forms of cross-company interaction. Industry clusters offer benefits, but also challenge the companies to rethink not only energy and feedstock streams. Unlocking their full innovation potential requires from them to examine how their business model interacts with those of the other cluster members.

But in which areas can companies work together? When can they benefit from a cluster setting? Can sustainability demands best met when working across different stakeholders in the value chain? And how do the business models of companies interact in cooperative settings?

The hosting companies
In Gothenburg as well as in Frankfurt you will get to know the challenge from different perspectives and learn from these particular cases. This will allow you to link your theoretical knowledge with real-life questions.

In Sweden, you will get to know the perspective of a chemical company (AkzoNobel), member of the West Swedish Chemical and Material Cluster, a decentralized cluster focused on questions of feedstock, resource and energy efficiency as well as recycling. Its aim is to foster sustainability in the chemical industry. It comprises of around twenty stakeholders from academia, industry and the public sector. AkzoNobel is a leading global paints and coatings company and a major producer of specialty chemicals.

The German challenge owner presents the cluster perspective: Infraserv Höchst is the service provider of one of the largest industrial parks in Europe, the Industriepark Höchst. The park contains of 90 companies, most of them from the chemical and pharmaceutical industry with more than 20.000 employees. Large international companies such as Clariant, Sanofi, Celanese and Bayer CropScience hold manufacturing or research sites in Frankfurt. Infraserv provides the infrastructure for all located companies, covering areas such as energy, waste, health and mobility.
You will have exclusive access to these corporations and work with each of them and their challenges – a valuable networking opportunity for your individual career development, as it will get you in touch with potential future collaborators.


Based in the city of Gothenburg and the city of Frankfurt, you will attend lectures, workshops and discussions; meet and discuss with world renowned experts, work with companies, and come up with solutions to drive our carbon neutral future. Guided by a learning coach you will work in interdisciplinary groups on the real-life challenges of the hosting companies. And, of course, enjoy leisure activities showcasing the cities you stay in.

Week 1 (20 Aug -27 Aug): Gothenburg

Sunday 20 August


Monday 21 August

Setting the scene: Sustainability challenges in the chemical industry
Introduction to industry clusters
Welcome dinner

Tuesday 22 August

Introduction to backcasting methodology
4 dimensions of sustainability

Wednesday 23 August

Methodology II
Transitions in socio-technical systems
The present state

Thursday 24 August

Site visit I
Excursion to the site of a chemical company
Presentation of the challenge from a company perspective

Friday 25 August

Business Model Theory
Design thinking workshop
Introduction to (circular) Business Model
Workshop on Business Model mapping


Trip to Frankfurt

Week 2 (28 Aug -2 Sept): Frankfurt

Sunday 27 August

Welcome in Frankfurt

Monday 28 August

Business Models in Practice
Introduction to the cluster perspective
Workshop on business model interactions

Tuesday 29 August

Site visit II
Excursion to the Industrial Park Höchst
Presentation of the challenge from a service provider perspective

Wednesday 30 August

Stakeholder dialogue
Workshop on dialogue tools
Dialogue session for group work with local stakeholders

Thursday 31 August

Group work
Preparation of summary and final presentations
Pitch training

Friday 1 September

Final Pitches
Presentations of group works in front of a jury
Wrap-up of the programme
Farewell dinner

Saturday 2 September


Contact us

In case of any questions concerning this PhD Summer school, feel free to contact Line Gry Knudsen (Education Lead) via