UK Manufacturing Symbiosis NetworkPlus (UKMSN+)

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Lead Research Organisation:
Aston University

Principal Investigator:
Dr Luciano Batista

Professor. Roger Maull

Industrial symbiosis is a fundamental building block of the circular economy. It provides a means to generate industrial competitiveness and sustainability, by creating manufacturing ecosystems, networks of organisations. Together, they generate new economic value through the continuous exchange of resources (materials and energy).

The circular economy approach is being embraced by firms within key manufacturing sectors (food, automotive, electronics, plastics, etc.) It promotes:

  • Cost Saving
  • The prevention of disruptions in materials input
  • The generation of additional revenue from waste streams.

Despite this increase in circular economy practices, the industrial symbiosis capability of the UK manufacturing industry remains underexploited. Most of the circular economy initiatives being developed in sectoral silos. To successfully engage the potential of the UK, a cross-sectoral industrial-symbiosis approach is needed.

The UKMSN+ is a multi-disciplinary approach that will promote, support and facilitate the creation of a UK-wide community of academics and practitioners. It focuses on how the industrial symbiosis capability of the UK manufacturing industry can be galvanised within sectors, and fertilised across sectors.

How and why

Enabling this transformation calls for scientific advancements and innovations in three domains (which represent key enablers of the circular economy):  business models, digital systems, and materials. Structural elements are also critical for enabling circular economy capabilities, such as: the quality of logistics and transport systems, collaborative business relationships, policy and regulations.

The network provides a clear and well-defined field of manufacturing research to focus its activities in a cohesive way. The UKMSN+ network establishes the basis for the development of further research. This promotes significant scientific and practical advancements that enable deeper, rather than peripheral, industrial transformations.

The UKMSN+ network strengthens the manufacturing industry contribution to circular economy research, strategy, and policymaking by establishing a common field and a unique world-leading forum.