Environmentally Driven Business Development

The course aim is to develop capabilities to formulate and plan a business solution for an environmental problem. After completion, students are able to: (1) Explain and reflect upon relevant theories and concepts in the area of sustainable entrepreneurship; (2) Account for drivers and hinders for environmentally driven business development; (3) Account for critical factors for the establishment of an entrepreneurial venture and have some ability to collect and analyze relevant information for that purpose; (4) Combine knowledge about environment and environmental technology with innovation and entrepreneurship; (5) In a group design, describe and motivate a tentative business solution to an environmental problem.

Theories and practical examples are presented at lectures. Seminars are arranged for further supporting the learning. In a group assignment a sustainable business idea is planned and described.


Facts & Main Elements

  • The module aims to develop the capabilities to formulate and plan a business solution for an environmental problem.
  • It is 6 ECTS and has been offered since 2013.
  • Approximately 250 students (50 yearly) from two engineering programmes (Energy and Environmental Engineering, Industrial economics).
  • Students work with own ideas sometimes suggested by external actors such as companies.
  • Idea generation, Shitty prototyping, Value creation forum and final exhibition are central activities on top of lectures and workshops.
  • NABC, BMC, Porters five forces are central frameworks


What‘s new?

  • Involvement of a business partner (Tekniska verken) throughout the module. Previously, business partners had mainly been involved at the start of the module and in a guest lecture.
  • New format for idea generation seminar
  • Improved format for feedback on project reports.
  • Increased focus on sustainability dimensions of entrepreneurship.
  • Digitalization due to pandemic



  • Students liked the developments.
  • Business partner noted that many ideas generated from students were not in line with Tekniska Verken’s mission. Could perhaps be influenced by even closer participation in the module.



Main outcomes

Approximately 40 business plans.

•       Three student start-ups developing their own ideas in the module.

•       One start-up recently awarded for their innovation.

•       One university start-up helped in drafting their first business plan.

•       New digital formats such at the European Sustainability Innovation Contest.


Lessons learned & Future plans

  • Well-functioning module with an indicative impact on students´ skills and attitudes
  • We will keep the focus on students own idea. Mainly since it would require too much work to scout for external ideas. That approach is used for other modules offered to the same students.
  • Digital tools such as Mural for documenting workshops and pre-recorded lecturers will be further developed and used even in on-campus mode.
  • Digitalization on focus of students´ own ideas makes the module scalable and transferable.
  • Development of individual reflection portfolio:
  • My development journey as an environmentally driven entrepreneur


Tekniska verken

In this educational module,  a business partner (Tekniska verken) is involved throughout the module. Tekniska verken is interested in testing how students could develop new solutions based on their existing patents and identified challenges. At an idea generation seminar they provided seven challenges and five patents which the student could use for inspiration, and they also gave a lecture on how they work with innovation. When students worked for some weeks with their ideas, Tekniska verken took part at a Value Creation Forum and gave feedback. Feedback was also given to some groups throughout the module if the idea was close to Tekniska verken activities. Finally, they provided exhibition space and hosted the final exhibition to discuss and give feedback on the results from the student projects. As of now, Tekniska Verken is working internally investigating if some of the student ideas can be further developed. 


More information: prof.dr. Olof Hjelm (olof.hjelm@liu.se)