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RSM helps to realise circular economy with ReTraCE research project

A €4 million international research project, led by the University of Sheffield in the UK, will train a new cohort of thought leaders to drive the transition towards a more sustainable mode of production and consumption in Europe. Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of the ten international institutions joining the project, and has created a new doctoral research position as a result.



Realising the Transition to the Circular Economy (ReTraCE) is a three-year research project funded by Horizon 2020 EU’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Networks and will support the implementation of the European Commission’s recently adopted Circular Economy Action Plan.

The project will bring together world-leading experts from a wide set of beneficiaries and partners to achieve breakthroughs in understanding how the transition towards a circular economy can be realised – both within existing organisations and industries, as well as through innovative and sustainable business models. A circular economy is one which is restorative by design, maximising the value of resources through use of non-toxic materials that are continuously recirculated through activities such as re-use and refurbishment.

The group of 10 participants is led by the University of Sheffield and includes seven academic and three non-academic groups. In addition to RSM, the group comprises the University of Kassel in Germany; Parthenope University of Naples in Italy; Olympia Electronics S.A in Greece; Tata Steel in the UK; University of Kent in the UK; the Academy of Business in Society (ABIS) in Belgium; Dalarna University in Sweden; and the South-East European Research Centre (SEERC) in Greece.

RSM Associate Professor Dr Steve Kennedy, who heads the project within RSM, said: “RSM’s department of business-society management is focused on corporate responsibility and sustainability in research and teaching. We’re very pleased to be extending our research activities into how firms can transition toward a circular economy through ReTraCE. The outcome will be more insight into how businesses actually become part of the circular economy through innovating their business models, with the bonus of training more thought leaders about the process.”

New skills will be needed

The transition to a circular economy is expected to change the skills that manufacturing and industry will need. One of the project’s aims is the design and delivery of world-class multidisciplinary training to 15 early-stage researchers, offering them an extended and valuable programme of international exchanges and secondments through a wide network of partner organisations – from public to private and the third sector.

The ReTraCE project anticipates the new professional profiles that will be required for realising the transition towards the circular economy. By the end of the project, the 15 researchers recruited to work on it will be in demand by research institutions, public sector bodies and within a wide range of manufacturing and service industries

New PhD position

RSM is currently recruiting for a researcher to fill its new PhD position; the new researcher can expect to investigate how companies select or innovate business models to implement a range of circular business model archetypes, which few scholars have so far investigated. The aim is to gain a detailed understanding of phases in the innovation process for a circular business model.

RSM’s industry partner

RSM’s industry partner in the project is Dutch flooring manufacturer Interface, which is often cited as a fine example of the circular economy: it uses only recycled or bio-based raw materials to make its products.

More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top 10 business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers. Study information and activities for future students, executives and alumni are also organised from the RSM office in Chengdu, China. www.rsm.nl

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Marianne Schouten, communications manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at mschouten@rsm.nl.

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