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Digitally Empowered Circular Economy: Business model and industrial innovation

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Executive Summary

Lead contributor: Dr. Saman Sarbazvatan

By propelling innovation in processes, business models, products, services, industries, markets, and economies, Combinatorial Innovations, and Convergence of Technologies reshape the fabric of the economy and create waves of disruptive and enabling forces across all sectors. They give rise to the Emergence, Divergence, and Convergence of technologies, enable Business Model Innovation, and promote Digitally Empowered Industries. These trends drive and are driven by Digital Transformation and the Digital Economy, and provide groundbreaking solutions to tackle SDGs, promote Sustainable Competitiveness, and enable the transition to the Circular Economy 

This chapter is designed in five insightful sections to help the readers understand the potentials of the Enabling Technologies of Industry 4.0 in empowering Circular Industries and Business Models. Following an introduction on the above, this chapter dives deeper into how technologies integrate into industries and create new technologically empowered industries, such as FinTech, AgriTech, HealthTech, MedTech, InsurTech, EdTech, SpaceTech, and many other xTech industries. These new industries open new markets and enable opportunities for innovation as they operate across sectors and interconnect several industries. Convergence of technologies such as Cloud, Big Data, AI, Analytics, Blockchain, Extended Reality, Digital Twins with Business Model Innovation create technologically empowered business models such as Software as a Service, Platform as a Service, Solution as a Service, Analytics as a Service, Blockchain as a Service, AI as a Service, Light as a Service, Virtualization as a Service, Cybersecurity as a Service, IoT as a Service, and many more XaaS Business Models, a.k.a. Everything as a Service, that is explored in this chapter. xTech and XaaS are among major digitally empowered industries and business models that promote SDGs, Sustainable Competitiveness, and the Circular Economy.  

This chapter pinpoints the applications and implications of Digital Enablers of Industry 4.0 and highlights the pivotal role of Digitally Empowered Multistakeholder Ecosystems as predominant requirements to drive SDGs, Sustainable Competitiveness, and the Circular Economy 

Following a rigorous analysis of the above with examples and use cases, the final part of this chapter summarizes the discussions by providing Key Takeaways and Actionable Insights for researchers, entrepreneurs, investors, firms, industry and market leaders, and decision-makers to capitalize on a plethora of innovation opportunities emerging from the Convergence of Technologies, Combinatorial Innovations, and Digitally Empowered Circular Industries and Business Models. This chapter helps avant-garde thinkers, progressive leaders, and forward-looking decision-makers surf on the Emerging Trends of the Enabling Technologies of Industry 4.0 to capture their cutting-edge potentials and advance the Circular Economy imperative effectively and more efficiently while strengthening their innovation capacity and gaining unique competitive advantage. 

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The Restructuring Forces of Combinatorial Innovations

Technologies combine, converge, and give birth to new technologies, they integrate into business model, product, process, and service innovation and restructure the markets, industries, and economies. Recognizing the patterns can help us get insight on how the future might unfold.

Digitally Empowered Industries

Explore why and how Digitally Empowered Industries enable and disrupt markets and industries at unprecedented scale and patterns, threatening the laggards and providing opportunities for forward-thinking leaders, investors, and entrepreneurs to innovate and promote Circular Economy, Sustainable Competitiveness, and SDGs.

Digitally Empowered Business Models

By building visibility into value chains and intelligence into assets and providing solutions for smart tracking, monitoring, managing, and utilizing resources, Digital Enablers open new horizons for Business Model Innovation to promote Circular Economy, Sustainable Competitiveness and SDGs.


As prominent enablers of Circular Economy, Sustainable Competitiveness, and SDGs, explore how FinTech, RegTech, ClimateTech, AgriTech, and other xTechs, disrupt and enable industries and markets, and provide significant opportunities for innovation in development and scaling solutions, businesses, markets, and ecosystems.

Everything as a Service

Explore how Digital Enablers facilitate Business Model Innovation in Product-Service Systems (PSS), a.k.a. Everything as a Service (XaaS), empower economic models around increased efficiency for the end user, and empower material consumption reduction, product lifecycle extension, and product afterlife management.

Industrial Symbiosis

Industrial Symbiosis can design out waste, narrow down, slow down, and close the loops. Further R&D, investment, and innovation in Industrial Symbiosis from technical, technological, and economic and business modeling perspectives can strongly support Circular Economy, Sustainable Competitiveness, and SDGs.

Enabling Technologies

Cloud, Big Data, AI, IoT, XR, Blockchain, Intelligent Manufacturing, FinTech, ClimateTech, Smart Mobility, Smart Buildings, Digital Twins, and many more combinatorial innovations significantly empower Circular Economy, Sustainable Competitiveness, and SDGs in a myriad of ways, opening a plethora of innovation opportunities.

Digitally Empowered Multistakeholder Ecosystems

Circular Economy requires Multistakeholder Ecosystems to promote collaboration and communication through interoperable, coherent, compatible, and accessible infrastructure, with transparency, security, accountability, and integrity in governance systems. Explore how technologies provide Infrastructure, Governance, Solutions, and Engagement for empowering Multistakeholder Ecosystems.

Meet the Leader

Meet the leaders supporting the Certification program!

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Enrollment Information

  • Once you have enrolled, you will be given access to our Learning Management System.
  • The course is entirely online and self-paced. We estimate that the total effort required to be 3 hours.
  • You will be guided through the original content of the course with dynamic, rich, enjoyable, narrated, and easy-to-understand content. The course is divided into easily navigated sections focusing at each stage on the learning objectives to be achieved. Each section is followed by non-graded “knowledge check questions”, to help you ensure that you have successfully assimilated the content. You can go back and view the content as often as you like.
  • When you reach the end of the course, you will be awarded the Certificate of Completion.

What you will gain

  • Access to one Circular Economy course, with free access to the content for one year.
  • A digitally enabled, verifiable, and shareable certificate acknowledging your achievement.
  • One-year free membership in the Circular Economy Alliance Community, including access to Circular Economy Alliance members, resources, and events.
  • Special access to Circular Economy related events, research, resources, and news.

Please note:

  • In many EU countries, the cost of certification can be covered by personal or corporate “training accounts”. Please inquire within your organization or with the appropriate institution within your country for more information.


Circular Economy Alliance Code of Conduct and Code of Ethics

The Circular Economy Alliance platform, services, and products are designed to appeal to and be used by people from a wide variety of different backgrounds, countries, religions, and cultural norms. These diversity and inclusiveness are core values of the CEA, and we encourage our Community to embrace it and share it. That said, this geographic and cultural diversity can make effective communications and general policy definition a bit challenging.

That said, CEA is committed to advancing the transition to a just and inclusive Circular Economy which aims to decouple economic growth from resource use, eliminate waste by design, and tackle climate change. To achieve its mission and vision of a socially fair Circular Economy, CEA has adopted the principles of Corporate Social Responsibility and endeavours to promote the common good while creating value for all stakeholders. With this in mind, the Code of Conduct has been developed to ensure all activity on the platform and within the CEA community is mutually respectful. The Code of Ethics sets out the guiding ethical principles relative to all professional activities of the certified members of the Circular Economy Alliance, informs the actions of our partner network, and defines the conduct of CEA staff and persons acting on behalf of the Company.

The purpose of our Code of Conduct & Code of Ethics is to ensure that the Circular Economy Alliance platform (the Platform), products and services are inclusive and that we, our members, and our community uphold the principles and values linked to Circular Economy, social responsibility, sustainable development and all relevant domains, to ensure that people and the planet are not harmed in the name of profit, and that we all conduct ourselves with mutual respect.

Code of Conduct

The CEA Code of Conduct reflects the ethics and values of the Platform, product, services, and community. It has been prepared with members of the CEA community (the Community), content contributors, instructional designers, and administrators based on established best practices. With the involvement of our stakeholders, we will continue to update the Code of Conduct as we add new products, services, and activities and as we receive feedback from our learners and community members.

We cannot foresee all eventualities and align with all local regulations, so the Code of Conduct should indicate the nature of interactions and the social dynamic we would like to see on this Platform and within the Community. In the event of an issue not covered by this Code of Conduct, the CEA team will decide whether a behavior is acceptable or not, in a manner that is as fair and transparent as possible, while respecting the confidentiality of all involved.

This Code of Conduct applies to all activities on the Talent Learning Management Platform, the Circular Economy Alliance website, its social media pages (Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Discord, etc.), including comments, forum posts, and private messages.

Certified Alumni, members of the Community, as well as candidates for Circular Economy certification are encouraged to adopt the following guidelines for conduct:

  • Contribute to maintaining a safe, supportive, and orderly online learning environment that is conducive to learning and to show respect and dignity to other persons and to property.
  • Contact or communicate with CEA administrators and other personnel in a respectful, positive manner.
  • Behave and communicate on and off the Platform in accordance with the principles of Circular Economy, social responsibility, and inclusiveness.
  • Help ensure all CEA members and personnel have a positive experience in all interactions with you.
  • Appropriate behavior we encourage is as follows: communicating and interacting with respect; demonstrating empathy and sensitivity; giving constructive feedback; acting in accordance with the principles of inclusiveness, that is, showing respect for other norms, cultures, life preferences; promoting the values and principles of Circular Economy, social responsibility, and sustainable development.
  • Maintain behavior free from all forms of bullying, harassment, and discrimination.
  • Other forms of inappropriate behavior that will not be tolerated include dangerous, inciteful, or hateful speech; harassment or intimidation; threats of violence; intentional disruption of online discussion, webinars, conference, or other events; retaliation; influencing or encouraging any of the above.
  • We are a learning community, united around the principles of Circular Economy. As such, we encourage experimentation, a growth mindset, and tolerance for failures, mistakes, or lack of understanding.
  • Despite our shared values, disagreements and misunderstandings are bound to occur in a community as diverse as the Community. In the event, have a calm discussion, ask for clarification, and don’t assume that someone is intentionally being offensive.
  • Please get in touch with the site administrators to report any conduct, posts, activity or content that you do not believe is in accordance with this Code of Conduct. We encourage the Community members to report any incidents that violate the Code of Conduct. The CEA team will respond in a timely manner, and the member who violated the Code of Conduct will be contacted directly. Please use the Contact Us link to report any breaches.
  • Please protect your own and other people’s privacy. Please be mindful not to post or otherwise share your own or other people’s personal information publicly online.
  • Unless otherwise stated, all content posted on the Talent Learning Management System is private and is not searchable online.
  • Unless otherwise stated, all content posted on the Community platform is publicly visible and searchable online.
  • If you delete your CEA Community account, you can request that your Community posts and private messages be removed or anonymized.
  • The website administrators may delete activity, comments, posts, and equivalent that do not adhere to the CEA Code of Conduct.
  • In the event of a breach of the Code of Conduct, we either issue a warning, announce an account suspension or, in the event of a grievous violation, we may announce account expulsion and removal from the platform and the Community.
  • If you are part of the Community, we share the same principles. Let’s share the responsibility for creating a positive dynamic on the Platform.

Code of Ethics 

Certified Alumni, members of the Community, as well as candidates for Circular Economy certification are strongly encouraged to uphold the highest standards of ethical norms in line with Circular Economy principles and values:

  • Act with transparency, honesty, integrity, and make the interests of society and the environment a priority, avoid any known conflicts of interest, and aim to create value for all stakeholders.
  • Promote the circularity and sustainability of the systems regulating economic life according to the principles of “people, planet and prosperity”.
  • Act with respect for others and the environment and practice their professional activities in an inclusive and non-discriminatory manner that upholds the values of equity, equality and tolerance.
  • Exercise their leadership and decision-making skills in the pursuit of establishing a culture of equity, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace and in society.
  • Act in a way that furthers the integrity of the discipline of Circular Economy and its representatives.

The code of conduct is regularly reviewed to reflect necessary adaptations that emerge from input received through our CEA members’ reporting or by changes to the prevailing regulatory framework.

Effective as of: 1 March 2022

Last revised: 28 February 2022

More detailed information can me found in the General Terms and Conditions and the Certifications Terms and Conditions.


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