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From Award to Impact

Research Group: Cultural and Creative Industries

From Award to Impact: New impact pathways for the biobased transition

Problem definition

Climate change is having an increasingly catastrophic effect on our daily lives. This means that the material transition must also move up a gear – and the creative industries can play an important role in its acceleration. Many novel biobased materials, among other sustainable technologies, are being developed by creatives. Creators collaborate on new and surprising applications of existing materials, and there are also countless examples of recent innovations in which creatives were directly involved. Over the past few years, various biobased materials and applications have been on display in the Growing Pavilion and the Exploded View at Dutch Design Week. Several leading designers and agencies now specialize in these materials, and there is a transdisciplinary range of specific users who are also attentive to new materials – textile designers, packaging designers, and architects. These examples give some indication of the extent to which the creative industries are working to increase the visibility and compatibility of biobased solutions.


Research challenge

There are, however, doubts cast over the effectiveness of the creative industries’ current contribution to transition processes. These doubts come not only from outsiders, but also from experts in the field. Leading organizations and specialists have emphasized barriers to innovation: the market and society inhibit potential applications of creative biobased concepts.

This research seeks an effective deployment of creative expressions, one that will achieve a much-needed acceleration in the application of biobased materials and designs. To this end, it is vital that creative biobased frontrunners engage and connect with the needs of society. Traditional markets are part of this process, but for mission-driven innovation, market-based commercial value creation is no longer central (Alonso, van der Bijl-Brouwer, Hekkert et al. 2020). Heterodox economic models such as Mission Economy (Mazzucato 2021), Doughnut Economics (Raworth 2018), Wellbeing Economics (Pouw 2021), or Foundational Economy (Foundational Economy Collective 2018), lay out pathways to impact that combine innovative applications from the creative industries with innovative organisational models (O’Connor 2021). The models suggest that civil society organisations, citizens, activists, and policymakers can also actively contribute to the developments that are needed to enhance the role of the creative industries within the biobased transition.


Research goal

The aim of this project is to design effective new impact pathways for creative interventions based on new insights, drawing on unorthodox models from the economic sciences. The project, which brings together creative designers, policy makers, and stakeholders, focuses on interventions that are aimed at accelerating the sustainable materials transition. We want to determine whether and how heterodox economic models can be used to develop new pathways, or to broaden existing pathways, that will increase the (environmental) impact of biobased solutions.


Target group

The research subject demographics can be divided into, on one side, creatives (including product designers), and on the other side, stakeholders, partners and policy makers, who may need to work with creatives in order to achieve their targets for the biobased transition.



This research focuses on a substantiated inventory of, and further development of, designers’ perspectives on sustainable innovation. Specifically, the researchers co-create with the intention of exploring potential new impact pathways that are based on a value concept which emphasizes enhanced diversity and inclusivity. Special attention is paid to processes that concern design competitions, design events and awards, in the activation of impact on (and acceleration of) the transition to biobased materials and solutions.

March 2022 – The project will be concluded in June 2023.


Final Report

Read Final Report herearrow



Project Leader: Dr. Sebastian Olma (Caradt / Chair Research Group CCI)

Principle Investigators: Dr. Douwe-Frits Broens (Avans CoE BBE); Dr. Kaj Morel (Avans ESB / Chair Research Group New Marketing)

Senior Researcher: Estelle Nieuwenkamp MBI

Project Partners: Biobased Creations BV, Amsterdam; Dutch Design Foundation, Eindhoven

Funding:  TKI CLICKNL, Eindhoven


  1. Materialen gekleurd met biokleuren uit project Puur Natuur: 100% biobasedarrow
  2. Scooter Van.Eko BE.Earrow, frame gemaakt van Hennep en biologische hars
  3. Lampenarrow van gecombineerde biobased materialen
  4. Stof gekleurd met biobased kleuren uit project Puur Natuur: 100% biobasedarrow
  5. Mycelium blok
  6. Biobased kerstballenarrow gemaakt van verschillende soorten bioplastic gemengd met dennennaalden
‘Consumers are creatures of habit. If we want them to break routine and live sustainably, we have to do more than just offer sustainable alternatives. ’

Estelle Nieuwenkamp is a researcher in the New Marketing research group at the Centre of Expertise for Sustainable Business, and tutor with the Academy for Marketing and Business Management at Avans, Breda.

Estelle Nieuwenkamp arrow

‘Our research group investigates the role artists, designers and cultural producers in general can play in developing the aesthetics and poetics of a desirable future.’

Sebastian Olma is professor Cultural and Creative Industries. He works for the Expertise Centre Art, Design and Technology.

Sebastian Olma arrow

Research Group: Cultural and Creative Industries

The research group Cultural and Creative Industries investigates the role of artists and designers as creative innovators and drivers of social and economic change. Affiliated researchers analyse the cultural and creative industries from a critical point of view and examine the conditions under which timely forms of aesthetic expression and social connectedness can actually take place within the precarious reality of this field. What economic models are required by artists and designers to create a meaningful practice within the aesthetic, social, and economic intentions of the cultural and creative industries? What skills sets are required for those artists and designers who don’t just want to follow movements, but actually shape novel social and economic models of the future?

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