CLUSTER4GREEN approach for designing Circular Business Models presented during Green Innovation Days 2022


CLUSTER4GREEN | ENI CBC Med Awareness and Training Programmes and the approach to business modelling have been presented and discussed on the occasion of two Workshop held in Beirut on 12 October 2022 and organized in the framework of the Green Innovation Days 2022: the first one titled “Cluster4Green Capitalization HUB” and the second one titled “Cluster4Green: Funding Opportunities and Circular Business Models”.

The Cluster4Green awareness campaigns are foreseen to boost institutional capacity and cooperation among MSMEs, while the training programme (training, mentoring and coaching to MSMEs) is aimed at increasing the business community knowledge on circular economy business models and their implementation.

The process of creation of two synergic, interrelated aggregation of stakeholders have been presented and discussed as well: the Cluster4Green Network and the Cluster4Green Capitalization Hub. The latter will act as the common aggregator of green business initiatives in the Mediterranean northern and southern basins. The Hub will promote cooperation and knowledge transferring actions on the three pillars of CLUSTER4GREEN: public strategic approaches toward Circular Economy; innovative circular economy business models; and public and private investments. Furthermore, the Hub will aggregate and disseminate the results of related initiatives to key stakeholders and public authorities. As for the CLUSTER4GREEN network, it will play a fundamental role in the promotion, dissemination with concerned stakeholders and the replication, reuse and mainstreaming at policy levels of project outcomes.

Innovative business models are, therefore, the key to guide the transition in the project area. A comprehensive presentation of the circular business models has been conducted by the experts of Ass.For.SEO (Nicola Cerantola and Guglielmo Mazzarelli) during the workshop in Beirut.  

When we talk about the Circular Economy, we inevitably talk about products, services and businesses that, in a symbiotic way, interact effectively to satisfy consumer and market needs, while having the least possible (negative) impact on the environment. Actually, this statement should be bolder and move towards a positive, regenerative impact on the planet. Doing less bad is not doing good. 

How these 3 elements of the equation interact with each other and with the outside world (users and stakeholders) depends on their characteristics and how they have been conceived, how they have been designed. One element cannot be totally disconnected from the other.

We therefore speak of Circular Business Models, which describe the logic of how an organisation creates, offers and delivers value, to all stakeholders, while maximising social benefits and the regeneration of natural ecosystems[1].

This is exactly the approach that Cluster4Green project is going to adopt while transferring knowledge and coaching capacities in the Mediterranean area.

This definition is loaded with intentions, in other words: purpose. For what purpose do we (as companies) produce goods and provide services to society? It is a fundamental question because it forces us to reflect on whether there are circular business models different from the conventional ones or whether any business model could be transformed towards circularity.

Analysing each of the 55 most recognisable business design patterns[2] used in the market (classified by the University of Saint Gallen in Switzerland), we can come to the conclusion that to achieve a circular business model, we need 3 factors:

  • The model has to incorporate at least one of the circularisation strategies[3].
  • The organisation has the real intention to improve its environmental performance on a continuous basis.
  • The new circular model (to-be) has effectively lower environmental impacts than conventional (as-is), which must be demonstrable with a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).

The Circular Economy, therefore, is built from a more holistic design that promotes the search for new business models better adapted to the context of the 21st century and its environmental and social challenges.


[1] Nicola Cerantola. Diseño de Modelos de Negocios Circulares con Ecocanvas (2021)

[2]The Business Model Navigator: 55 Models That Will Revolutionise Your Business by Oliver Gassmann, Michaela Csik, Karolin Frankenberger. 2014

[3] Embrace - European Med-clusters Boosting Remunerative Agro-Wine Circular Economy Toolkit 2020