Conference on sustainable business models put Halmstad University on the world map

At the beginning of June, the focus was on Halmstad when the University hosted the sixth edition of the international scientific conference New Business Models. This year's conference theme, New Business Models in a Decade of Action: Sustainable, Evidence-based, Impactful, was inspired by the UN's goals for sustainable development and attracted 190 participants from more than 80 universities and organisations worldwide.

“The University's research on sustainable business models and circular economy has grown in recent years and being able to host the NBM conference is proof of that. It is a hallmark of our work and shows our relevance in the field.”

Maya Hoveskog, Associate Professor in Innovation Management

The conference was organised by the research environment Center for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Learning Research (CIEL) at the School of Business, Innovation and Sustainability. The school’s research in business model innovation is strong, and the hosting was a clear indication that it is also internationally important:

“The conference has given me an intellectual energy boost! We brought together researchers and practitioners from different cultural and professional backgrounds, which promotes the development, dissemination and use of new sustainable business models in different contexts”, says Maya Hoveskog, Associate Professor in Innovation Management, and conference chair together with Fawzi Halila, Associate Professor in Industrial Management, and continues:

“My colleagues and I have been part of this research community since the start seven years ago. The University's research on sustainable business models and circular economy has grown in recent years and being able to host the NBM conference is proof of that. It is a hallmark of our work and shows our relevance in the field.”

Three people on a stage. A camera tripod in the foreground.

One of the studio guests was Jonas Bergman, the mayor of Halmstad.

Packed digital conference week

This year's participants, who joined the digital conference from countries such as Denmark, Sweden, the USA, Australia, Canada, and South Africa, were treated to an extensive program. In previous years, the conference has been arranged physically and extended over three days. This year's corona restrictions made it necessary to hold the conference digitally, which at the same time opened up new opportunities. The event was extended by two days filled with workshops, including a very popular half-day workshop for PhD students. One of the participants at the PhD workshop was Luís Fernando Irgang dos Santos, who is active in the doctoral education in Innovation Sciences at Halmstad University:

“The doctoral student workshop was a fantastic opportunity for researchers at the beginning of their careers to meet more experienced colleagues. It raised new ideas about how digitalisation can drive the development of new business models and how companies can create sustainable values ​​with the help of digital tools”, he says.

Maren Ingrid Kropfeld, PhD student at the University of Oldenburg, Germany, adds:

“It was a very rewarding workshop. I take a lot with me from it, perhaps mainly the advice to follow my passion. Everything will always work out if you are passionate about what you do!”

Best paper

Milou Derks och Frank Berkers

Towards Shaping Sustainability Transitions Through Collaborative Business Modelling: a Conceptual Approach from Transition to Ecosystem Innovation

Interesting keynote speakers and thought-provoking panel debates

During the conference, there was also time for several very interesting keynote speakers, and in addition, several panel discussions were arranged. Here, researchers and business representatives met to discuss issues of sustainable business models.

“It was clear from the panel that sustainability today is essential to relate to in the business development of both new and established companies”, says Peter Uppman, Innovation Strategist at Region Halland, who moderated a panel discussion on how for instance business incubators and science parks can benefit from new tools for sustainable business model development.

Keynote speakers

  • Professor Mats Alvesson, Lund University (Sweden)
  • Professor Peter Wells, Cardiff University (Great Britain)
  • Professor Minna Halme, Aalto University School of Business (Finland)
  • Professor Thomas Ritter, Copenhagen Business School (Denmark)
  • Associate Professor Wendy Stubbs, Monash University (Australia)
  • Professor Joan Enric Ricart, IESE Business School, University of Navarra (Spain)

The baton is handed over to Italy

On Friday, the conference ended festively with the organisers thanking participants, speakers, moderators, and authors.

“It was with great pride and humility that we ended the conference week. I am proud of what Halmstad University has achieved in the form of high quality in both content and organisation of this year's New Business Models conference”, says Fawzi Halila and continues:

“It is fantastic to see how generous world-leading researchers from different countries have been in sharing their many years of developed knowledge to doctoral students and young researchers. I would also like to thank the fantastic team from the University's various departments for their commitment and contribution.”

“It was with great pride and humility that we ended the conference week. I am proud of what Halmstad University has achieved in the form of high quality in both content and organisation of this year's New Business Models conference”

Fawzi Halila, Associate Professor in Industrial Management

The International Board of the Conference Series, consisting of Florian Lüdecke-Freund, Professor at ESCP Berlin (Germany), Romana Rauter, Associate Professor at the University of Graz (Austria), Niels Faber, Associate Professor at the University of Groningen (Netherlands) and Nikolay Dentchev, Professor at Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium), was also very pleased with the conference.

“We did not only listen to great keynotes, panel debates, and around 100 paper presentations. We also saw some of the key topics for future research emerge. These include the need for better understanding of value creation with and for stakeholders, helping business to better deal with system-level change, and finding ways to finally assess and manage the actual sustainability contributions of new business models. It was much needed and motivating!” says Florian Lüdecke-Freund.

“We did not only listen to great keynotes, panel debates, and around 100 paper presentations. We also saw some of the key topics for future research emerge.”

Florian Lüdecke-Freund, Professor at ESCP Berlin (Germany)

Next year, 2022, the conference will be hosted by LUMSA University of Rome in Italy.

“It is a pleasure to announce that the seventh International New Business Models Conference will take place on June 22–24, 2022, at LUMSA University of Rome. The theme of the conference will be New Business Models Challenges: Sustainability, Economic Recovery and Digital Transformation. The conference will be held both on site and online”, says Professor Laura Michelini at LUMSA.

Text: Christa Amnell
Photo: Dan Bergmark

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