Managing circular economy-oriented niche innovation networks within a triple helix-based governance framework : the cases of industrial biotechnology and remanufacturing in Scotland

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

Transition from a linear to circular economy requires fundamental restructuring of the global production-consumption systems. Such restructuring is dependent on the development and proliferation of niche technologies and innovations which promote ‘inner loop’ activities necessary to achieve such a transition such as reuse, repair and remanufacturing. To achieve this, the approach to managing innovation must be redesigned to cope with the increased complexity of moving from linear value chains to circular ‘inner loop’ value webs of material reuse. This thesis therefore examines a novel innovation policy tool which employs a triple helix-based niche manager to strategically manage ‘inner loop’ niche innovation networks in-line with the broader circular economy transition.This thesis undertook in-depth studies of two triple helix-based niche managers in Scotland (the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre and the Scottish Institute for Remanufacturing) between September 2015 and March 2018. A novel methodological approach using social network analysis was developed. This allowed each triple helix-based niche manager’s impact on their respective niche innovation networks’ structure and composition to be empirically measured; and as such, the network members’ capacity to develop ‘inner loop’ innovations. By combining the social network analysis of 86 network members with 173 network member surveys and triple helix-based niche manager focus groups, the reasons behind the changes in network structure and composition are explored in depth.This thesis finds that the triple helix-based niche managers were able to perform key nurturing and empowering roles necessary for steering the innovation networks in-line with a circular trajectory. In terms of nurturing, they were able to build diverse networks, increase shared learning and raise expectations of the niche. In terms of empowering the innovation networks, they were able to connect niche actors with regime actors, direct circular economy funding into the niche and lobby policy makers in terms of niche requirements.
Date of Award18 Dec 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SponsorsEPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council)
SupervisorElsa João (Supervisor) & Girma Zawdie (Supervisor)

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