A tool to analyze, ideate and develop circular innovation ecosystems

Jan Konietzko*, Nancy Bocken, Erik Jan Hultink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)
82 Downloads (Pure)


The circular economy may help firms to maximize the value of their material resources and minimize the overall resource use, waste, pollution and emissions of their business activities. Implementing a circular economy program requires radical changes in product, business model and ecosystem innovation. Most research on circular oriented innovation takes a product or business model perspective. Few publications have explored how to innovate in ecosystems: how a group of loosely coupled organizations can change how they interact with each other to achieve a collective outcome. This study proposes the Circularity Deck: a card deck-based tool that can help firms to analyze, ideate and develop the circularity potential of their innovation ecosystems. The tool is based on a literature review of circular oriented innovation principles, and of practical examples that show how these principles have been applied. The principles are organized according to the intended circular strategy outcome that they pursue (i.e., narrow, slow, close, regenerate and inform material and energy flows), and the extent of the innovation perspective that is needed to operationalize a principle (i.e., product, business model, or ecosystem innovation). This review and categorization process first produced a novel analysis of the circular economy innovation landscape, using an ecosystem perspective. Second, these results served to develop the Circularity Deck, which was further developed and tested for ease of use and perceived usefulness in 12 workshops with 136 participants from 62 different organizations. The Circularity Deck provides an approach for future research and practice to integrate new principles and examples that can help firms to analyze, ideate and develop circular innovation ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number417
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Business models
  • Circular economy
  • Design
  • Innovation
  • Innovation ecosystems


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