Innovation Network aiming at Sustainable Smartphones (INaS)

[Translate to Englisch:] Logo Innovationsverbund Nachhaltige Smartphones (INaS) ©Innovationsverbund Nachhaltige Smartphones (INaS)
[Translate to Englisch:] Logo: gefördert vom Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung ©Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)
[Translate to Englisch:] Logo: FONA Sozial-ökologische Forschung BMBF ©Bundesministeriums für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)

In the “Innovation Network aiming at Sustainable Smartphones” (INaS), actors from business, science, and society jointly develop sustainable business models for circular electronics. The INaS was founded in 2016 and has currently approx. 25 member firms. In a pre-competitive environment, at the neutral location of a university, actors from industry meet regularly (every 6 months) in workshop settings. Via this setting, member firms can step out of their operational activities to give their creativity free space in order to identify and develop economically viable solutions for modular product designs. In our second funding phase (2019-2022), the INaS focuses on modular product designs for smartphones. The value chain spanning cooperation for modular design, reparability, and upgrade services are, therefore, a special focus of future work.

The project is carried out at the Centre for Sustainability Management (CSM) at the Leuphana University Lüneburg under the academic direction of Prof. Dr. Stefan Schaltegger and Prof. Dr. Erik G. Hansen (Johannes Kepler University Linz) as part of the joint project "Product Circularity through Modular Design - Strategies for Long-Lasting Smartphones" (MoDeSt). Other partners in the MoDeSt project are the Fraunhofer IZM, TU Berlin, Shift GmbH, and AfB gGmbH. The Institute for Integrated Quality Design (IQD) at the Johannes Kepler University Linz is an associated partner.

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Plate 2019 Conference Paper: Living Lab INaS

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Challenges in the Smartphone and ICT industry

A precondition for sustainable consumption of mobile devices are solutions for challenges, such as the use of rare or conflict minerals, relatively short initial use phases, limited repairability, and the associated increasing amounts of electronic waste. However, many of these challenges are not purely technical in nature, but are also manifested in social structures (e.g. industry prevents a functioning repair industry by insisting on linear models). Emerging solutions in practice and science are based on the concept of the circular economy, e.g. the modular Fairphone and local repair cafés.

Understanding the Circular Economy

As a concept and solution approach, the INaS builds on current research on the circular economy, which includes both slowing loops, such as maintenance, repair, second use phases as well as closing loops through recycling. Thus, both consistency and sufficiency approaches are considered. To sensitize member firms to the fact that the Circular Economy is more than just recycling of materials, is an important part of the INaS. Hence, the INaS aims to enable entrepreneurs to break out of linear patterns of thinking and to design circular products and services from scratch. This requires a rethink in product and service design as well as adjustments on the business models level.

Living Lab as a co-creation space to solve real world problems

We promote this rethinking by creating a space for cross-company and cross-actor cooperation. We use the concept of a "Living Lab" to create a systematic intervention and common innovation space for the participating actors. Living Labs are based on the Open Innovation approach and offer a suitable framework especially for complex problems and social challenges, such as sustainability. We fill this space through knowledge transfer and active experimentation in the form of content inputs, creative and prototyping sessions. For the operative implementation, we collaborate with professional Design Thinking facilitators.

Further information (in German)


The INaS 2.0 brings together actors from the entire value chain of smartphones to jointly identify business opportunities and challenges of modular product designs

Innovation Impulses

  • In three consecutive workshops, you will jointly develop solutions for new business models based on modular product design
  • You will gain access to new knowledge and methods to identify and implement technology-related sustainability innovations in your company

New contacts and partnerships for sustainable business

  • You benefit from the established INaS network
  • You will be in direct exchange with scientists and experts from the field
  • You are in direct contact with research institutions and potential new employees.

Your take-away

  • Concepts developed in the workshops (e.g. business model prototypes)
  • New ideas for your products, services and business models
  • Latest scientific findings

The INaS at the CSM is part of the BMBF research project "Product Circularity through Modular Design – Strategies for Long-Lasting Smartphones" (MoDeSt). MoDeSt is carried out together with the Fraunhofer IZM, TU Berlin, SHIFT GmbH and AfB gGmbH, as well as the JKU Linz as associated partner, and is funded by the BMBF within the framework of ReziProk (Resource-Efficient Recycling Management – Innovative Product Cycles).


For more publications please go to the INaS-researchgate-database.