Current research projects



MAESTRI is a four-year project funded by the European Commission through the Horizon 2020 programme which started on September 2015.The project brings together 15 organisations from 5 different countries to advance the sustainability of European manufacturing, specifically focusing in the process industries. The main objective is to create both concepts and tools to facilitate the adoption of energy and resource efficiency improvement strategies in process production systems of any company (large, medium or small). This is realised through the development of a flexible and scalable management system which will be tested in four real industrial settings across a variety of activity sectors. CIS leads the research on Industrial Symbiosis within the MAESTRI project. The research activities include the analysis of successful industrial cases that will support the development of a library of case studies and will lay the foundation for a toolkit and guidelines supporting the design and implementation of Industrial Symbiosis activities in manufacturing companies.

Contact - Dr Maria Holgado (Lead researcher)



This two-year project which commenced in late 2015 is a collaboration between the Centre for Industrial Sustainability (CIS), Croda, the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), and NiTech Solutions. The CIS team will investigate new business models for the adoption of NiTech’s COBR (continuous oscillating baffle reactor) technology, and the shift from batch to continuous manufacturing in the process industry. The project is part funded by Innovate UK and EPSRC in the IUK ‘Flexible Manufacturing’ competition.

Contact - Laure Dodin (Research assistant)


Business Models for Sustainable Industrial Systems

Business Models for Sustainable Industrial Systems is a three-year project funded by the EPSRC. The project is looking to advance the research and practice on business model innovations that support industrial sustainability. The aim of the project is to develop a novel way of helping companies find and visualise opportunities for business model innovations that result in more sustainable businesses.  Agent-based modelling techniques will be applied to unravel complex behavioural characteristics and contexts that have the potential to disrupt the current business model.

Contact - Dr Doroteya Vladimirova (Lead researcher)



SCALER is a thirty-month project funded by the European Commission funded project within the Horizon 2020 programme. It is Coordination and Support Action bringing together 5 organisations and a large network of supporting entities. SCALER aims to massively increase the implementation of industrial symbiosis, by developing mechanisms to retain the embedded value of European resources. It brings together qualitative and quantitative tools and methods to support self-organised initiatives on industrial symbiosis and to enhance facilitation processes and coordination actions. The creation of new spaces for interaction, collaboration and cooperation and the engagement of a broader set of stakeholders are crucial elements of the multiplier effect in industrial symbiosis implementation. CIS is the technical coordinator of SCALER project and will also be leading the activities to create pathways to foster resources synergies in process industries.

Contact - Dr Maria Holgado (Lead Researcher).


Fa.Vela Resiliente

This project in partnership with the NGO FA.VELA in Brazil and funded by a grant from the Newton Fund (British Government) aims to to accelerate sustainable businesses of low-income entrepreneurs dwelling in slums in Belo Horizonte. “FA.VELA empowers the most vulnerable Brazilian slum-dwellers, by promoting inclusive and resilient development. Based on lessons learned from our pilot ‘RESILIENTE’, our goal is to include the youth trapped into poverty into the start-up ecosystem, by targeting up to 100 youth residing in low-income communities under socio-environmental vulnerability in Belo Horizonte. This will be accomplished through a vast array of capacity-building activities (mentoring sessions, workshops, field visits, labs, benchmarking and networking), empowering them to create social and tech-based solutions to pressing challenges to urban resilience. The project will directly benefit approximately 511 people (slum-dwellers, entrepreneurs, university students and professionals cooperating as mentors and facilitators) to mobilize, conceptualise and implement sustainable businesses. We foresee that our project might indirectly impact over 5 million slum-dwellers with the provision of more sustainable products and services.
Contact - Paulo Savaget (Doctoral researcher) 


IUK Crowd-funded Forestry

The forestry industry is a vital part of the Scottish rural economy, contributing almost £1 billion / year and supporting 25,000 FTE jobs. The Scottish Government plans to be creating 15,000 hectares of forest per year by 2024-25. This is an ambitious target, but as the UK is the 3rd largest importer of forestry products after China and Japan, with an import value of nearly £10 billion/ year, this target is vital to strengthening local economies and mitigating climate change. This project aims to design a novel business model that enables small investors to invest in and benefit from forestry, something currently only available to sophisticated or wealthy investors. The project would seek to understand all of the benefits of forestry that these investors would value, especially those that may be difficult to account for in a pure economic model. The project will explore different possible business models that would enable these investors to fully realise the benefits of forestry. Designing a company around these benefits will allow for a more innovative, integrated and robust approach to forestry than currently achieved by institutional investment. The project is led by a start-up company which looks to utilise early stage design processes for the first time supported by the expertise of The Centre for Industrial Sustainability.

Contact - Dr Curie Park (Lead Researcher) 


IUK Aurora

AURORA is a collaborative research group supported by Innovate UK that is investigating the potential to use additive manufacturing technology to remanufacture train wheels for the London Underground. The project has been running for approximately 15 months and has reached a point where additional support is required to assist the AURORA partners to understand the business model implications that might result from the adoption of the technology changes. The Centre proposes to run a series of nine intervention workshops to enable the AURORA parties to understand the value exchanges that are currently and could or are planned to take place in as a result of adoption of the new technology. This will be supported by off line research into similar potential models. The Centre will also carry out deeper analysis of the product and service activities and then work to build a set of value propositions to support the various parties so that they can understand the range of business models that they might consider and work to build suitable business cases to allow for the selection of the most appropriate versions.

Contact - Dr Doroteya Vladimirova (Senior Researcher) 



Recently completed research projects


EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Industrial Sustainability

A 5 year, four university, multi-partner programme developing the knowledge tools and techniques to facilitate the transition towards a more sustainable industrial system.



REDRESS is a collaborative project between M&S and the IfM and funded by the Innovate UK competition 'Supply Chain Innovation Towards A Circular Economy’.  It is a 2-year project to drive garment recovery and retained value through business model and supply chain innovation. This project seeks to accelerate M&S Plan A commitments around reducing waste. The focus for this project will be to significantly reduce the environmental impact of raw materials in M&S’ clothing supply chain.  The team is applying circular economy thinking and business experimentation processes to drive greater garment recovery and retained value. The outcomes of the project can be applied to textile and other industries.he project aims to improve overall sustainability of UK and Global manufacturing through the development of tools and methods to help reduce sustainability performance variation between factories and help elevate (future) factory sustainability performance.


Digital Re-Distributed Manufacturing (RDM) Studio

The RDM Studio is a feasibility study which seeks to address the key research question, “How can data-driven decisions predict a future RDM business model”. This feasibility study was funded as part of the RECODE Sandpit. The aim of this research is to develop a Digital RDM Studio that will enable data-driven experimentation with different business models for consumer goods industry. The feasibility study is a collaboration between IfM and Cranfield University researchers. For more information.  


Developing high value products from industrial waste in Sri Lanka

Funded by the EPSRC Global Challenge Research Fund, this project seeks to transform Sri Lanka's apparel manufacturing waste streams into high value products through introducing innovative remanufacturing processes and designing new business models. The Centre's High-Value Business Tools will be used to work with Sri Lankan apparel manufacturer, Expo Industrial Engineering (EIE). A collaborative, open innovation lab will be built locally to conduct experiments and pilots with waste from its partner factories to contribute to the economy and society of Sri Lanka. Centre researchers will scale-up their experience and knowledge in up-cycle design which have been proven to create successful high-value products. Researchers will also develop locally appropriate, innovative  mechanical remanufacturing processes and share social engagement know-how. Download the final report here.


Configurations for sustainable industrial systems

The aim of this research is to develop knowledge and tools that will help those with a stake in manufacturing explore how their system might be configured in the future and how they can actively prepare for those challenges today. From the challenges of engaging with the circular economy, to the language which helps unlock industrial system design, from developing scenarios to understanding how innovation and value creation can be enhanced through relationships and experimentation, the researchers have engaged with industry and leading thinkers to develop knowledge and tools which can help manufacturers tackle these problems. The work has revealed insights about what approaches have the potential to move towards more sustainable industrial systems, and the collected knowledge from the group is being incorporated into a new programme for those who seek to lead change in industry, developing pioneering projects that lead a wave of change across the system.his project will examine the planning processes manufacturing firms use, and identify new techniques that will enable a shift in firm performance towards sustainability. By experimenting with new planning techniques we intend to build up visions of potential future system configurations and identify the interventions required at a system level to enable these.



PhD Projects


How do companies incorporate social and environmental considerations in their decision-making?

Corporate sustainability is an enacted process:  the decision to act sustainably needs to be embedded throughout the organisation with companies needing to learn to incorporate factors other than economic performance into their ways of decision-making.  The objective of this research project is to show how organisational systems influence the inclusion of sustainability considerations into decision-making.  This understanding will enable leaders to change the way in which they make decisions, and so remove some bottlenecks to building environmentally, socially and economically sustainable businesses.  Contact - Catherine Tilley (Doctoral researcher)


Social Enterprises in Developing Countries and the Challenge of Promoting Sustainable Industrial Practices among SMEs

This study seeks to understand the key characteristics of societal challenges which are amenable to social enterprises, and how these characteristics compare with the challenge of promoting sustainable industrial practices among SMEs in developing countries. The study traverses the divide between two distinct subject areas, thereby producing new insights for scholars and practioners within the social enterprise and industrial sustainability fields. Contact – Olamide Oguntoye (Doctoral researcher)


Sustainable business model innovation: How it works and why it doesn’t

The capability for fast and successful business model innovation is a key competitive advantage for organisations and an important leverage for realising social and environmental ambitions. However, most business model innovations fail. To explore this problem, this research investigates the phases, key activities, and challenges of sustainable business model innovation in corporations. This understanding helps organisations to structure their activities better, anticipate key challenges, and build up sustainable business model innovation capabilities. Contact - Martin Geissdoerfer (Doctoral researcher). Learn more


Sociotechnical system change to sustainability by introducing the concept of "Hacking Sustainability

This research offers a fresh perspective to sociotechnical system change to sustainability by introducing the concept of “Hacking Sustainability”. This concept was framed to describe the means of circumnavigating sustainability bottlenecks of complex systems. The aim of this research is to develop a framework clarifying the shared characteristics and the breeding ground of Sustainability Hacks, as well as to reveal archetypes of Sustainability Hackers. The expected outcome consists of contributing to expand knowledge about important mechanisms to deliver immediate and “good-enough” changes in sociotechnical systems to meet some of the most pressing sustainability challenges.  Contact - Paulo Savaget Nascimento (Doctoral researcher)


A study of 3D printing technology and identifying value uncaptured and sustainable value creation from 3D printing

The research aims to investigate the disruptive effects of 3D printing on industrial systems and the environmental sustainability performance of 3D printing. It is very significant to learn more about the sustainability impacts of this technology, which is affected by the way it is being used. This research also proposes a framework to help 3D printing providers identify uncaptured value such as waste streams in the printing process, under-utilised resources, reusable parts and recyclable materials and uncover sustainable value opportunities. Contact - Wen Liu (Doctoral researcher)


Exploring ways to develop the sustainable design process: using ‘up-design’ thinking 

This research is concerned with design thinking and the associated skills needed to bring ‘up-design’ to practical reality. The aim is to develop a guide for product makers to help them implement design thinking in their development processes.

Contact - Jee-Yeon Choi (Doctoral researcher)


Business models for the secondary use of electric vehicle batteries

Batteries retired from electric vehicles (EVs) still have enough capacity for further applications such as low-speed vehicle traction and stationary energy storage. This research takes a multi-stakeholder’s perspective and explores business models for the post-vehicle applications of EV batteries.  The second-life batteries have the potential to link the transport and energy sector and generates new stakeholders.

Contact - Na Jiao (Doctoral researcher)


Long term planning for sustainable manufacturing using systems thinking    

This research aims to enable manufacturing businesses to contribute to and improve the transition towards sustainable industrial systems. Drawing insights from systems theory and theories of change, a scenario based method is being developed to support long term strategic planning in manufacturing businesses.

Contact - Sotirios Levakos (Doctoral researcher)


A capability study for business model and eco-efficiency for enterprise transformation

This research explores to identify the capabilities needed for better integration and implementation of business model innovation and eco-efficiency. An instruction tool aims to develop to help industry explore and analysis a good solution of their enterprise transformation.

Contact - Yan Li (Doctoral researcher)


Reducing the environmental impact of wind turbine blades

This research includes investigating the wind turbine blade waste inventory, understanding the environmental impact of wind turbine blades during its whole life cycle and quantitatively assessing the end-of-life options for wind turbine blades.

Contact - Jacky Liu (Doctoral researcher)


Sustainable life-cycle management

Sustainability is often considered as an add-on dimension of decision-making in organisations. This project is increasing our understanding of how sustainability aspects can be integrated into decision making across the organisation. This helps manufacturers to identify opportunities for improving and ease the processes of integration of sustainability aspects in decision making.

Contact - Ioannis Mastoris (Doctoral researcher)


CO2 Emissions from the cement industry

This research seeks to examine the main sources of CO2 emissions from the cement industry and identify opportunities to reduce them. We are now collaborating closely with a local cement manufacturer to perform an in-depth analysis of their factory.

Contact - Daniel Summerbell (Doctoral researcher)


Policy support mechanisms for Industrial Symbiosis: a comparative study between UK and China 

This project seeks to understand how policies act as driving mechanisms in promoting industrial symbiosis. Through comparing different policy supportiveness to develop industrial symbiosis between UK and China, this research aims to find out what policy works well under what conditions and what policy does not.

Contact - Yuan Tao (Doctoral researcher)


Sustainable business models to improve nutrition and health: A study into the collaboration between the food and health care sectors

This research aims to improve our understanding of an emerging phenomenon—increasing integration of food and health care actors. The expected outcome is a framework clarifying the alignment of incentives among actors, which will contribute knowledge regarding how and why they work together to create business models supporting healthy nutrition.

Contact - Kirsten Van Fossen (Doctoral researcher)