Recently, we have taken the opportunity to engage in discussions with João Gonçalves from the partner Erasmus University of Rotterdam. The entity is the WP4 leader, responsible for developing social innovations to foster the widespread adoption of construction waste reduction concepts.

João Gonçalves, it is a pleasure to be with you today and discuss your work at Reincarnate social innovations. 

Thank you, the pleasure is mine. 

We would like to know more about the importance of social innovations. 

We are in a world that needs new ideas that meet social needs. This means creating new collaborations, establishing new models, and opening new markets to benefit people and the planet. By establishing these connections, we will be more prepared and understand how to uptake and scale up our technologies easily and widely. 

At Reincarnate, we know that circular innovations often encounter barriers when we get to the adoption stage, especially in an activity like construction. Therefore we propose innovative ways of presenting and developing innovations so we are more confident that they meet the needs of the end users and that they benefit all stakeholders involved. For instance, reusing materials and building components requires new ways for stakeholders to interact. To give an example, there is more variation and there are more unknowns concerning reused building materials. Considering the case of reusing a building window, it is unlikely that the window will be built exactly at the specifications of a new window, which brings additional challenges in terms of quality control. However, the potential cost, energy and resource benefits mean that, when adequate trust between stakeholders exists, these barriers can be overcome to find solutions that benefit the building owner who provides the used window and the constructor who fits it in the new building.

Could you describe your current work on the project?

At the Erasmus University of Rotterdam, we started to work in the first month of the project on the business ecosystem for circular markets task with the support of all the partners. We are identifying stakeholder networks and understanding how knowledgeable and experienced they are, adding value to a retrofitting project team, but also regarding the readiness to perform in a business ecosystem setting. 

We will divide our stakeholder groups and create a persona-based customer and user journey map for each one in collaboration with partner 3L.

In addition, we are using social science methods like surveys, experiments and focus groups to better understand what barriers there are to adoption and how to overcome them. Finally, together with TU Delft, we are looking into a new appraisal model that reflects circular needs and practices.

What are the main challenges of your work, and how do you tackle them?

The main challenge is always to show people the importance of social innovation. You may develop the best technical tools and practices, but these will not achieve the impact they need if nobody uses them. To tackle this challenge we rely on our partners from the consortium, who are leading players in the European circular economy for the architecture, construction and engineering sector. By showing stakeholders their success stories and how social innovation has been fostered within Reincarnate, we can also convince other companies and organisations to embrace new ways of thinking about circularity.

Thank you João!


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