Ecosystems as enablers of upscaling

In order to boost the sustainability of their business models, many companies focus on circular economics and the reverse supply chain. They continuously identify opportunities and develop capabili­ties in order to increase the added value of their waste streams. Even for companies that have moved from start-up to scale-up, the quality of their ecosystems, support systems, are essential for their suc­cess: the success of green start-ups depends on appropriate public and private support systems (Volkmann, Fichter, & Audretsch, 2019).

In this project, we aim to (1) identify good practices through case studies of the role of ecosystems at upcycling businesses; (2) organize workshops in which companies and students discuss the implica­tions of the results of the inventory; (3) to publish the results of this project in a peer-reviewed scientific Journal. In this project, students and businesses from different countries collaborate in order to draw lessons about (un)successful upcycling endeavors by scaling-up their up-cycling activities using their spe­cific ecosystems. Our research aims to deepen the understanding of how to measure the performance of entrepreneurial ecosystems and their impact on the formation and longevity of sustainable enterprises (Volkmann et al., 2019). We focus on sustainable ecosystems: in which we explicitly take the societal and environmental contexts into account.

This project has four stages: (1) Research, (2) Exchange, (3) Advise and (4) Publication.

Students conduct research ecosystems and dynamics between ecosystems  and company’s upcycling endeavors. The students  recommend to companies. During the 2ndstage, Exchange, the students share their findings with other students  in other countries.  During the third stage, Advise, the students translate the insights gained and lessons learned in the learning community to specific advice for their company. Finally, the academic partners  will conclude the findings in a peer-reviewed scientific Journal.

More information: Dr. Frans Stel (