Speaking at the recent Schmidt-MacArthur Fellowship Summer School held at Cranfield University – one of 12 partner universities working with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation – Philips’ circular economy project manager Dr Markus Laubscher said that working with higher education institutions could help companies gain a better understanding of the dynamics at play.

One of the benefits, he said, was around research and “really pushing the edge of knowledge and what we know about the circular economy”.

“Academic institutions are the best place to analyse and to bring that analytical skill to those questions,” Dr Laubscher noted. “We as a business see a lot of benefit in sharing those learnings and then applying them where possible.”

He also believes such partnerships could help build capacity in terms of skills, both within and outside of corporations. “When [students] come into our business they can understand the concepts and help our business to transform and really capture the opportunities that the circular economy offers.”

Dr Laubscher added that he had had good discussions with some of the partner universities about how they could deliver training to business leaders in order to help them create value around circular economy business model propositions.

The summer school saw 18 students from across three continents converge at Cranfield University for a week to work and brainstorm on various challenges relating to circularity. According to Dr Laubscher, taking a global perspective on the issue is vital for a company like Philips.

“We would like to capture that knowledge from all different places where you have local specific conditions that a global company such as ours has to take into account,” he said, adding that this would enable Philips to become “more relevant” at a local level.

Dr Laubscher’s comments follow remarks made by the company’s global president and CEO Frans van Houten earlier in the year, that the circular economy could be a transformative force in how Philips does future business in terms of interlinking smarter resource use with profitability.

Last year edie reported how the manufacturer was exploring the feasibility of selling light as a service as part of a new product-as-service business model approach.

Maxine Perella

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie