Regenerative design – The key to environmental driven business development

by Lars-Goran Larsson on May 15, 2014

image_thumb[1]Regenerative design, as basis for circular economy, can be applied to all systems, even beyond agriculture.[1] Circular Economy is a generic term for an industrial economy that is, by design or intention, restorative and in which material flows are of two types, biological nutrients, designed to re-enter the biosphere safely, and technical nutrients, which are designed to circulate at high quality without entering the biosphere.

Development of sustainable business models for the green/clean tech industry, grounded in the context of circular economy, is one of today’s most challenging areas to address to facilitate growth and prosperity in the global green/clean business sectors.

“Environmental benefits as business drivers” within the field of green/environmental driven economies are key to develop in order to cope with global environmental challenges in any market driven economy. Or variations thereof. Notwithstanding the concept has been known since the 1970’s there are still miles to go to commercialize today’s knowledge. But we have to start somewhere and why not then in the end of design and materials – which in this case, together with seamless system integration, constitutes the foundation for creation of a sustainable business built on circular economy. By smart design and a systems integration approach disparate functions and products can be turned into a sustainable value chain, where the values for society are obvious.

There are of course still huge challenges to solve and questions to answer within this area. Some of them are not primarily of technical nature, but rather commercial. How can we cope with the infrastructural investments needed in order to get the integrated systems to work in practise? How can we make the business cases viable for the many small products developers and suppliers that are imperative to make the value chain complete? Are we prepared to re-think and change our agriculture production mix in order to support the demand of raw material needed to create a low carbon environment? What is needed from national, regional and local governments in order to aid this kind of societal development? Are subsidisations effective tools to use? How can we from the business society contribute to establishment of long term and sustainable public regulations and laws? – The issues are many, so far the answers are few.

From edie.net/Faversham House, (www.edie.net) I have picked up the following which in a nut-shell captures some of the challenges ahead of us that urge for our attention; Julie Hill, author and Green Alliance associate says: “There’s quite a lot that can be done by business but where it stops is where there is a need for investment – whether it be a need to retool or redesign to remanufacture.

image“It’s difficult to come by investment and businesses have to be able to show a return, so if there is no requirement to use recycled content on so on, businesses will ask why they should invest.”

Hill adds that there are also uncertainties around the future business models of those working in resource recovery making it difficult for this industry to invest. “The one certainty they have is that landfill tax is going up and at some point will be capped,” she says.

“There are a lot of ‘chicken and egg’ situations where nobody is quite making the investments needed and what everyone needs is a signal from Government.”

No matter who we are or where we come from as mankind we do not have any options. We simply have to start deal with the challenges and solve them to save the Earth we all are walking. Else, we will soon have no place to live in at all. The best way to achieve success is to find commercial viable solutions for people and industries to make their living at the same time as they are saving the world. Circular economy based on regenerative design may be one of the many pieces in that puzzle.


[1] John T. Lyle started developing ideas on regenerative design that could be applied to all systems, i.e., beyond agriculture, for which the concept of regeneration had already been formulated earlier. Arguably, he laid the foundations of the circular economy framework, which notably developed and gained notoriety thanks to McDonough, Braungart and Stahe. (Ellen Macarthur Foundation – Rethink the Future).

About Lars-Goran Larsson :

Lars-Göran Larsson, Senior Advisor in Bearing, resides in Sweden and consults internationally. He has spent most of his career in executive positions in the private corporate sector and in the cross-roads of public-private partnerships.

The last ten years he has specialised in assignments that involves design and implementation of holistically coherent national, regional and local innovation based growth systems. At present, implementation of Europe´s innovation strategy Horizion 2020 is high on his agenda.

His work includes assignments for national and regional governments and Innovation Hubs in Europe, Middle East and Africa with establishment of innovation systems for incubators & accelerators and science parks & clusters integrated with extensive SME development programs and funding. The methodology applied is anchored in the Quad Helix model, which constitutes an extension and refinement of the traditional Triple Helix model. It coordinates context management in collaboration between the public and private sectors, academia and civil society.

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