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Sustainability 2017, 9(4), 515; doi:10.3390/su9040515

Early Front-End Innovation Decisions for Self-Organized Industrial Symbiosis Dynamics—A Case Study on Lignin Utilization

1
Institute of Industrial Management, University of Applied Sciences FH JOANNEUM, Kapfenberg 8605, Austria
2
Institute of Systems Sciences, Innovation and Sustainability Research, University of Graz, Graz 8010, Austria
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Marian Chertow, Frank Boons and Giuseppe Ioppolo
Received: 31 January 2017 / Revised: 22 March 2017 / Accepted: 25 March 2017 / Published: 29 March 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diverse Dynamics of Industrial Symbiosis: Emergence and Development)
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Abstract

The emergence of self-organized industrial symbiosis (IS) is based on the expectations of industrial actors regarding financial and/or environmental benefits through symbiotic inter-company linkages. One such linkage is the exchange of by-products as substitutes for primary raw materials. However, the company generating the by-product may even not be aware of potential application fields in other industries. In cases where the by-product triggers an innovation, the very early phase of the innovation process (“early front-end”—EFE) is extremely important, as it is here that a first rough picture of future application fields must be defined. In contrast to traditional market innovations of industries, the EFE of IS innovations is triggered by the existence of a certain by-product. As conventional innovation models are not very helpful in supporting the EFE decisions in IS innovations, our paper aims to establish a link between self-organized IS and innovation by creating a specific theoretical framework for the support of EFE decisions. We thus introduce the “stage-gate model of self-organized IS innovations” and place a particular emphasis on the early phases within this model. Subsequently, we illustrate the application of the early phases of the model in a case study on lignin utilization in the Austrian paper and pulp industry (P&P industry). In this way, the study contributes to a better understanding of the peculiarities and conditions of EFE decisions in IS innovations and their significance in the emergence of self-organized IS networks. View Full-Text
Keywords: self-organized industrial symbiosis; front-end of innovation; industrial symbiosis; product/market match; lignin utilization self-organized industrial symbiosis; front-end of innovation; industrial symbiosis; product/market match; lignin utilization
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Gabriel, M.; Schöggl, J.-P.; Posch, A. Early Front-End Innovation Decisions for Self-Organized Industrial Symbiosis Dynamics—A Case Study on Lignin Utilization. Sustainability 2017, 9, 515.

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