Despite the ongoing efforts of the European Union policies, heavily industrialized clusters are lagging in the implementation of Industrial Symbiosis (IS)
to transit to more resource- and energy-efficient setups. To advance IS implementation, a promising future research direction is Hubs for Circularity (H4C)
. H4C provide spaces where diverse actors, such as businesses, governments, researchers, and civil society, collaborate to accelerate the net-zero Circular Economy (CE) transition
. UT acquired the large-scale Horizon Europe project entitled "Sustainable Circular Economy Transition: from Industrial Symbiosis to Hubs for Circularity: IS2H4C”. IS2H4C
will deliver a systemic approach to sustainable CE transition, helping to materialise Sustainable Development Goals. Our focus?
Resource efficiency, IS matchmaking, Life Cycle Assessment, renewable energy, waste prevention, and innovative circular technologies, through an integrated approach combing physical and digital H4C
. Ensuring community and government support, sustainable business and financial models, and respect for our planet is paramount. Our vision?
Make IS2H4C the blueprint for Europe's sustainable future and promote H4C as a reference sustainable regional development model. We're starting in four H4C
pilot sites across the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, and Türkiye, collaborating with 35 partners from nine European countries. Join us!
UT is hiring six PhD students for IS2H4C
, each with unique roles and qualifications. Be part of an interdisciplinary team shaping the future of CE
while advancing your research.
As a prominent part of the overarching project IS2H4C, a digital collaboration platform, DigitalH4C
, is vital to the development of physical H4C. DigitalH4C fosters the bottom-up emergence of Industrial Symbiosis Networks by real-time resource monitoring and tracking, dynamic supply-demand matchmaking, efficient and secure information-sharing, and transparent marketplace trading. It also performs effective evaluation of top-down coordination strategies based on a multi-dimensional approach combing different quantification methods. Essentially, it is an integrated information platform that creates a digital collaborative space where diverse stakeholders establish inter-organisational relationships at multi-scales, for the goal of H4C implementation.
The digital collaboration platform consists of a modular suite of tools, features, and data analytics to facilitate IS identification, coordination, and evaluation. Beyond a physical platform, we aim to derive a theory of IS-oriented digital platform development from the implementation evidence collected across the hubs.
This research guides the design of digital H4C in a stepwise manner, and reveals the underlying mechanism of how a digital platform orchestrates diverse analytical components and contributes to the emergence of H4C. Specifically, the main topics/challenges of this research include but are not limited to:
- DigitalH4C Blueprint Design
The candidate will design a blueprint of DigitalH4C (web and mobile applications) ensuring its scalability and modularity. The blueprint design demonstrates a coherent and comprehensive platform structure by (1) suggesting the optimal setup of technological integration, (2) articulating the interdependencies of identified decision support components, and (3) providing a knowledge basis for long-term platform development, implementation, and evolvement. The practical deployment of the information system is under responsibility of IRIS, an industrial partner specialising in software development. Proceeding in parallel with other PhD work packages, the candidate aims to build a communication baseline where the platform design is visible, transparent, and reachable for academic researchers, industrial partners, and other important parties involved in the project.
- Online Circular Marketplace
To create IS opportunities, an online marketplace add-in will be integrated to the platform. The marketplace module will be co-developed with other PhDs involving an intelligent matchmaking component and an financial analytical component. In this research, the candidate is expected to integrate different technical components (i.e. IS matchmaking tools) into a marketplace where IS can be realised. The marketplace facilitates the tracking and verification of resource flows, enabling greater transparency and accountability in the exchange process. By collaborating with other PhDs, the candidate needs to show how such a marketplace prototype integrates essential analytical components from other work packages and (2) how it would contribute to a collaborative, efficient, and trustful marketplace for H4C actors.
- DigitalH4C Demonstration and Evaluation
Analytics tools and dashboards for evaluating the performance of IS collaborations will also be integrated in the platform. Importantly, the methodology of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) will be tailored for demo hubs evaluating the environmental, economic, and social consequences of adopting different IS strategies. This research will enable the real-time visualisation and tracking of the IS synergies over temporal-spatial differences by using Geographical Information Systems in a virtual reality or gaming environment. The monitoring dashboard helps potential users to collect, observe, interpret the results, and also provides a predictive basis to test future scenarios of IS strategies via a digital twin gaming approach.
Beyond the practical demonstration of the functionality above, the candidate is expected to evaluate the artifact in a multi-case study environment. The implementation and evaluation feedback will be analysed iteratively so that the platform can be optimised and refined. This further leads to the challenge of understanding the methodological role of information systems in promoting H4C. Both conceptual and empirical contributions are expected to articulate why and how DigitalH4C will facilitate the development of H4C.