Transition to sustainable production systems

The project aims to provide the basis for a transition strategy towards the establishment of sustainability-orientated production and consumption systems. Together with participants and addressees of the programme "Factory of the Future", the project will develop a common framework for the management of transition processes.

Short Description




The project ‘Transition to sustainable production systems' is an accompanying measure funded within the research programme "Factory of Tomorrow". It aims at supporting the thematic and structural development of the programme. The project concentrates on the possible contributions of research and technology policy, taking long-term transition strategies towards sustainable production and consumption systems into account. Firstly, it aims at identifying possible cornerstones for the design of structures, processes and measures to support and frame transition processes by means of research and technology policy as well as by initiatives in other policy areas. Secondly, two selected areas of sustainable manufacturing will serve as case examples to study the potential for transitions in a detailed manner and to assess the possibilities of shaping such transitions by means of public policy. The outcomes can be used for the advancement of technology programmes similar to "Factory of Tomorrow".

In theoretical terms, the project builds on the approach of Transition Management, which had to be further developed and adapted to meet the requirements of an investigation for production-consumption systems in the Austrian context. A specific scenario methodology was developed in order to explore and assess future transition paths and to analyse corresponding actor strategies. Three workshops served as the backbone of the methodology. The methodology was applied to two example areas: 1) biorefineries and 2) wood-plastic composites/biopolymers. In each of the two cases, three different scenarios were developed and specified, describing qualitatively different but feasible futures. These scenarios were assessed in terms of the opportunities and risks they entail, in order to derive strategic options for the different actors who contribute to shaping the future of the two example areas. Particular emphasis was put on the role of policy actors. Apart from actors in research, technology and innovation policy also actors from other policy areas shaping the future of sustainable production were involved.

Building on the findings of this project, insights could be gained in terms of programme and strategy development in research, technology and innovation policy. Scenario processes like the one developed and tested in this project can not only be used in support of the strategic and thematic advancement of research and technology programmes, but also for similar purposes at the level of national policy strategies in the field of research, innovation and technology.

The background, motivation and objectives of the project are explained in detail in the first chapter (introduction) of this final report. The subsequent chapter develops and presents the conceptual and theoretical framework and the methodology on the basis of which the scenarios are developed and analysed. Chapters three and four concentrate on the findings of the two cases biorefineries and wood-plastic-composites/biopolymers. Apart from presenting and assessing the scenarios, also the strategic consequences for the main actor groups are explained, both within each of the individual scenarios and across them. The final chapter summarizes the main conclusions with respect to programme development, research, technology and innovation policy, and adjacent policy areas.

Project Partners

ARC systems research GmbH
Dr. K. Matthias Weber
Tech Gate Vienna
Donau-City-Straße 1, 1220 Wien
Tel.: ++43 50 550 - 4561
Fax: ++43 50 550 - 4599

Contact Address

Katy Whitelegg, Matthias Weber
Bereich Systemforschung Technik-Wirtschaft-Umwelt
Geschäftsfeld Technologiepolitik
2444 Seibersdorf
Tel.: 050550-3893
Fax: 050550-3888