Elis Benediktsson sitting on a bench and smiling to the camera during WCEF2019 in Helsinki.

From Physical to Digital: How the Pandemic Affects the Circular Transition in the Nordic Manufacturing Industry

Right now, Nordic Innovation is running the second round of circular economy workshops under the project Circular Business Models in the Nordic Manufacturing Industry. We talked to our Senior Innovation Adviser Elís Benediktsson about the new workshops and if the Nordic manufacturing companies are still working on going circular despite the ongoing pandemic.

Why did Nordic Innovation initiate the new series of workshops under the project Circular Business Models in the Nordic Manufacturing Industry?

Elís: "Nordic Innovation’s aim with these workshops is to provide competence about circular economy to companies in the Nordics. The first round of workshops that we ran last year, showed that there was strong interest from companies regarding how they could employ circular business models in their companies, and how they could cooperate with other companies in their ecosystem. The workshops resulted in more than 36 pilot ideas that the companies could pilot together with other companies, or within their own business."

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Circular workshops in Oslo. Photo: Jarle Nyttingnes

"As the results exceeded expectations, and the companies were so satisfied with the workshops, we wanted to offer this competence to even more companies in order to contribute further to the acceleration of the Nordic transition. The workshops also provide us with more knowledge of where the inefficiencies in the value chains of these sectors are and knowledge about regulatory or financial barriers to the transition."

Has the pandemic meant anything in the recruitment process? Is there still focus from Nordic companies on transitioning?

"Now, seven months into the pandemic, there is perhaps an even larger focus on transitioning to the circular economy as a means to build resilience and competitiveness. The pandemic did make it more difficult to recruit, as the companies were in survival mode and focused on their day-to-day business. But luckily, we managed with extra efforts, and have an array of various participants enrolled in the workshops now. Some of the companies were very quick to recognise the value of these workshops for the development of their business model and strategy going forward."

"We will launch a Nordic version of the Circular Economy Playbook for the Manufacturing Industry later this Autumn. It will provide explanations on different topics that are important regarding circular business models, as well as templates that companies can use while working on their circular business cases."

Elís Benediktsson, Nordic Innovation

How have the circular workshops been running so far?

"The workshops have been very successful so far, with many interesting discussions and concrete ideas that can be tested and piloted in the near future. We did have to convert the workshops to a digital format, and we were uncertain how that would affect the companies willingness to share and discuss - but with some adjustments along the way, we see that the digital format can work quite well. We would however of course have loved to meet all the company representatives in person."

Why adopt a circular business model?

Increase revenue generation and save costs
Increase customer value   
Reduce regulatory risk

What are the next steps for the project?

"We’re now rounding up the workshops in the current series. The following workshop series, taking place later in October and November will focus on the more 'circular economy-mature' companies. There is still a possibility to participate in these workshops!"

"We will launch a Nordic version of the Circular Economy Playbook for the Manufacturing Industry later this Autumn. It will provide explanations on different topics that are important regarding circular business models, as well as templates that companies can use while working on their circular business cases. It will also contain examples of companies that have converted parts of, or the whole of, their business."

"It is not certain that we will continue running this kind of workshops next year. But circular business models are important in the transition to the circular economy in the Nordics. The Ministers for Business and Innovation have decided to continue prioritizing this topic for the next four years at the Nordic level, so Nordic Innovation will continue its work together with an array of partners."

Read more about Batch B and apply here.

The Circular Business Models in the Nordic Manufacturing Industry project is a part of the Nordic Sustainable Business Transformation program.

Contacts

Portrait Elís Benediktsson

Elís Benediktsson

Senior Innovation Adviser
Elís combines his scientific educational background with his broad international experience in biotech, banking and economic diplomacy. His main strengths lie within business development & analysis, project management, as well as international trade & investment advisory.

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Portrait Marthe Haugland

Marthe Haugland

Senior Innovation Adviser
Marthe combines her international experience with her knowledge of business development and innovation to promote Nordic cooperation within the circular economy. She belives Nordic cooperation can drive the systemic change and give Nordic companies a competitive edge going forward.

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Hanna Törmänen

Hanna Törmänen

Innovation Adviser
Hanna has background in Nordic and international exports, public-private cooperation, project management and market analysis. Her focus at Nordic Innovation is to support Nordic businesses and ecosystems in their transition towards sustainable and circular business models.

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