Research Line of Smart Cities

Innovation Ecosystems

Enabling systemic transitions

To transform the systems that provide essential services in a city such as energy, mobility and health, ecosystems in which governments, industry, societal organizations and citizens work together are crucial. The Innovation Ecosystems theme looks at ecosystems, business models and transition processes, to analyze where and when radical innovation takes place, and to provide recommendations on how disruptions can be facilitated.

Scientific challenges

The SCP/e Innovation Ecosystems theme focusses on the role of users, government, companies and societal organizations in sustainable transitions in the SCP/e application areas Smart Mobility, Smart Urban Space and Smart Buildings. Questions vary from How can companies survive the energy transition? and What are the optimal ways to manage frictions between business models of individual actors in the smart city ecosystems? and How can health insurance companies save money and at the same time improve people’s health? to How should you change your business model when you offer services instead of products? and Who needs to pay for charging stations for electric vehicles in the public space? and What does the introduction of shared instead of owned e-bikes mean for urban planning?

Eindhoven expertise

In the performance assessment of TU/e researchers, cooperation with industry and society is highly appreciated. As a result, TU/e is number one when it comes to cooperation with external parties, such as companies or the Municipality of Eindhoven, enabling research with actual users in actual life-life circumstances. In the Innovation Ecosystems theme, the department of Industrial Engineering & Innovation Sciences closely cooperates with the departments of Industrial Design, Built Environment, Electrical Engineering, Applied Physics and Mechanical Engineering, on-campus institutes like the Data Science Center Eindhoven (DSC/e) and Differ, and makes good use of the Eindhoven expertise united in the university’s Smart Mobility research area.

Nowadays, there is a lot of technology available to improve the quality of life of citizens. Think of Internet-of-Things, renewable energy solutions, or automated driving. But how do you implement this technology in viable and useful products and services on an urban level? That is the challenge. A city is the ideal scale to influence the way actors work together to facilitate transitions. In an urban context challenges such as mobility are more significant, and the innovation potential is high due to the presence of a vast amount of resources.

Thought leader Geert Verbong from the department of Industrial Engineering & Innovation Sciences.

Bicycle Challenges

The research program Bicycle Challenges: Past, Present, and Future of Sustainable Urban Mobility investigates the governance of cycling as part of sustainable urban mobility from a long-term perspective and the emergence of new mobility concepts. It challenges the focus on urban mobility by looking at the socio-technical challenges of past and current innovations. It engages with historical and sociological research methods.

The program consists of a number of projects. Three PhDs and a postdoc focus on the multi-level governance in historical perspective. Two PhDs look at current mobility concepts and focus on implementation strategies, social costs-benefits, and (non) exchangeability of traditional bikes, e-bikes and pedelecs in a comparative fashion.

Finally, two PhDs are involved in research into future cycling innovations. These two students participate in the NWO national research program Smart Cycling Futures in collaboration with Utrecht University, University of Amsterdam, and Windesheim.

In this research theme, we focus on how value is being created and captured by different actors in smart city ecosystems and how this can be optimally steered by governmental bodies. This easily connects to other theme’s as we often investigate tensions or trade-offs between certain essential characteristics of smart cities. For example, to what extent should smart city innovations be open or closed? What kind of smart cities solutions should be rolled out in local fashion, and which solutions should be centralized? How should we balance the individual and shared elements in smart city solutions?

Program manager Ksenia Podoynitsyna

What makes a company’s business model sustainable?

Sustainable innovation requires collaboration across organizational boundaries. In a project that was part of the framework of the Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorate SELECT+ ‘Environomical Pathways for Sustainable Energy Systems’, TU/e researchers evaluated business models to determine what makes a company sustainable.

The researchers looked into how value is created and captured across organizational boundaries, by investigating the value transfers between the focal organization and the external network of business model actors. They analyzed the business models of 64 innovative sustainable organizations from The Netherlands in terms of how environmental and social sustainability is manifested in the content, structure, and governance of their business models.

Sustainable organizations turn out to use the same underlying business model structures as can be found in conventional firms. Environmental sustainability is mainly represented in value creation content, whereas social sustainability is achieved by serving underprivileged user groups and mainly is reflected in value capture content. Social sustainability in both for-profit and non-profit organizations is often achieved by having an imbalance in value exchanges that is compensated elsewhere in the business model.