Why we need a digital highway to the circular economy

  • Dimitri CORPAKIS former European Commission
Keywords: Circular economy Sustainable development Digital transformation


The need for advancing the Circular Economy is beyond doubt in the context of sustainable development and the fight against climate change. However while everybody agrees on the objective, the ways and means to achieve this remain less clear. Current barriers are first and foremost related to the inherent difficulties of the concept of the circular economy and have to do with structural issues of the businesses involved but also with behavioural aspects of individuals and organisations involved in the process. This short commentary addresses first the nature of the barriers to circularity and then the possible enabling role of information and communication technologies. To the extent that companies can achieve the transition towards a servitization of their products (products as a service) they may possibly succeed in translating the different components to digital occurrences through the appropriate ICT applications and components. However this will need a consistent business approach to digital transformation which presents its own hurdles.

Author Biography

Dimitri CORPAKIS, former European Commission

Dr Dimitri Corpakis, is an independent expert, advising organisations, governments and local and regional authorities on innovation, growth and technological change. An engineer and planner by training, he has more than 37 years’ experience on the European integration process. Dimitri (who recently retired from the services of the European Commission following a career of over 26 years in Brussels) has worked in many policy areas including Education and Training, Information and Communication Technologies, Social Sciences and Humanities, and Regional Innovation Ecosystems with an emphasis on interactions and synergies between the Union’s Research and Innovation and Cohesion Policies (European Structural and Investment Funds).

 In recent years, Dimitri led the European Commission’s DG Research and Innovation Unit on the Regional Dimension of Innovation (now called ‘Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation) managing the legacy 7th EU R&D Framework Programme actions on “Regions of Knowledge” and “Research Potential”, building links with the Union's Cohesion Policy, with a strong focus on developing Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation (RIS3), ensuring the Commission’s link with the Joint Programming Initiative on “Urban Europe” and launching the ground-breaking actions on closing the innovation divide (new Horizon 2020 Part IV on Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation - Teaming, Twinning and ERA Chairs). In 2018, he was appointed as a member of the Graduate Faculty of the Agricultural and Mechanical University of Florida (FAMU), School of the Environment and as a Senior Research Fellow of the South East European Research Centre (Thessaloniki, Greece) (SEERC) part of the International Faculty of the University of Sheffield (CITY College).

 Dimitri is actively engaged in public speaking at global level (recent events took place in Heidelberg, Kiel, Tallinn, Riga, Nice, Bucharest, Orlando, Tallahassee, Brussels, Manchester, Dubai and London). He is an active member and co-coordinator of the International Webinar Series of the Triple Helix Association (President: Prof. Henry Etzkowitz, University of Stanford), specialising in the relations between University, Industry and Government leading to social, technological and economic change. He also acts as project adviser to international consortia and partnerships. He is an active member of the Regional Studies Association (RSA, UK), of the European Policy Centre (EPC), of the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) and Friends of Europe. He is also a member of the European Advisory Board of the EuroNanoMed project (http://www.euronanomed.net/ a platform for funding agencies and ministries that promote collaborative research and innovation able to convert research in nanotechnology into practical gains in medicine). Dimitri serves also at the Editorial Board (Accelerated Innovation) of The International Journal of EnergyWaterFoodNexus (EWFN): this serves as a platform of advancing a new science Enterprise launched at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) through a global public-private partnership that seeks to provide sustainable and innovative solutions for energy, water and food security. He is also a member of the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Human Resources Development and Management  as well as a member of  the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Information Technology and Management ((Editor-in-Chief: Dr. M. A. Dorgham, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK)

 He has published several articles and book chapters as invited contributor in numerous publications, and delivered dozens of keynote presentations and speeches in international meetings. In 2006 he was awarded the prestigious Belgian CHRISTIANE BOM Award (by the European Association of Development Agencies / EURADA) for his overall achievements in pushing forward the innovation policy agenda on regional development.  In 2016, he was awarded the distinction of the Order of ERRIN (European Regions Research and Innovation Network) for his overall contribution to advancing the regional innovation policy agenda. A long-time Brussels resident, Dimitri can be reached at d.corpakis@gmail.com (see also https://about.me/dimitri_corpakis). He is also active on LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/in/dimitricorpakis  ) and on Twitter (https://twitter.com/gpstune ).

How to Cite
CORPAKIS, D. (2019). Why we need a digital highway to the circular economy. International Journal of Energy Water Food Nexus, 1(1), 26-28. Retrieved from http://ijewfn.org/index.php/ijewfn/article/view/9