PhD position: Development of a Digital Collaboration Platform for Hubs for Circularity

PhD position: Development of a Digital Collaboration Platform for Hubs for Circularity

Published Deadline Location
26 Oct 14 Dec Enschede

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Job description


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 and IS2H4C while advancing your research.

Key takeaways

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 challenge

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.


University of Twente (UT)


We look for a highly motivated, enthusiastic researcher who is driven by curiosity and has/is:
  • Master’s degree or equivalent in industrial engineering, civil engineering, information systems, digital twins, systems engineering, computer sciences, geographical information systems, simulation and optimisation, life cycle assessment, artificial intelligence, business analytics, operations research;
  • Affinity and/or experience about sustainability, circular economy, digital twins, information systems, platform economy, life cycle assessment, and/or industrial symbiosis;
  • A good team spirit and like to work in an interdisciplinary and internationally oriented environment;
  • Able to do independent research and willing to develop writing and publication skills;
  • Exhibit a strong passion and possess outstanding skills in life cycle assessment, digital twins, information system design, and/or digital artifact prototyping;
  • Possess good communication skills and an excellent command of English.

Conditions of employment

We encourage high responsibility and independence, while collaborating with colleagues, researchers, other university staff and partners. We follow the terms of employment by the Dutch Collective Labour Agreement for Universities (CAO). Our offer contains: a fulltime 4-year PhD position with a qualifier in the first year; excellent mentorship in a stimulating research environment with excellent facilities; and a personal development program within the Twente Graduate School. It also includes:
  • Gross monthly salary of € 2.770 in the first year, increasing each year up to € 3.539 in the fourth year;
  • Excellent benefits including a holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary, an end-of-year bonus of 8.3%, and a solid pension scheme;
  • 29 holidays per year in case of full-time employment;
  • A training programme as part of the Twente Graduate School where you and your supervisors will determine a plan for a suitable education and supervision;
  • A green campus with free access to sports facilities and an international scientific community;
  • A family-friendly institution that offers parental leave (both paid and unpaid);

A full status as an employee at the UT, including pension, health care benefits and good secondary conditions are part of our collective labour agreement CAO-NU for Dutch universities.


The HBE cluster is dedicated to encouraging a supportive and inclusive working culture. Our aim is that all job applicants are given equal opportunities. When we select candidates for employment, it will be on the basis of their competence and ability. To support the workforce diversity, we are open to offer flexible working conditions on an individual basis to support work-life balance, that may include contract of employment, working hours and location, or child care arrangements.

The High Business Entrepreneurship corporate video can be watched via this link.


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society
  • 38—40 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 1493


University of Twente (UT)

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Drienerlolaan 5, 7522NB, Enschede

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