Five Sharp for a Nominee: “What manufacturers need tomorrow”

Meet the last one of our four nominees for The Otto Mønsted Foundation's MADE Award 2020: Markus Thomas Bockholt. He is nominated for his work with developing a financially profitable take-back and recycling system for the first time in Grundfos in Great Britain. A study that will help Danish manufacturers with the transitioning – what they have today into what they need tomorrow. The winner of the award will be announced this fall.

Counting down to the announcement of the winner of this year’s The Otto Mønsted Foundation’s MADE Award, MADE introduces our four nominees through our series “Five Sharp for a Nominee”.

In this article we meet Markus Thomas Bockholt who is nominated for his participation in the project ‘Moving Circular Economy from small CSR projects to an industrial scale revenue stream’.

“Throughout his action research he continuously exceeded our expectations. He has not only been responsible for managing projects in his research domain, but also took an active role in initiating strategic initiatives running on a global scale (e.g. take-back project UK),” writes Peter Meulengracht Jensen, Senior Manager, Group Environment at Grundfos in his letter of recommendation regarding Markus Bockholt’s nomination for this year’s Otto Mønsted Foundation’s MADE Award.

The Otto Mønsted Foundation’s MADE Award

  • The award will be presented to a Ph.D. student or Postdoc working with one of the five Danish universities (AAU, AU, CBS, DTU and SDU) in MADE.
  • The winner is announced fall 2020.
  • The first prize winner will receive 100,000 DKK and the second prize winner will receive 50,000 and both prize winners will receive a diploma and an art price.

About the project

  • Brian Vejrum Wæhrens, Professor at Aalborg University, nominated Markus Thomas Bockholt’s project
  • Project title: Moving Circular Economy from small CSR projects to an industrial scale revenue stream
  • Project timeline: 2017-2020
  • Industrial partners involved: Grundfos

 What is your project all about?

Manufacturers have been selling products for decades that are not designed for disassembly and reuse. At the same time destructive recycling makes neither financial nor environmental sense to Danish manufacturers. My PhD project aims exactly at this legacy problem: Transitioning what we have today into what we need tomorrow.

Why is it important?

Apart from the huge financial and environmental benefits that the Circular Economy is said to bring, the legislative role is crucial. In 2015, the EU adopted the European Circular Economy package, which is implemented through directives such as the WEEE (Waste electrical and electronic equipment) directive. It places the responsibility for the end-of-life of products on producers. Being able to do this in a financially profitable way will determine the future of a company.

How will your project help the industry?

In the initial phase of my PhD, I focused on financial factors that influence take-back and recycling of end-of-life products. Based on this research, we were able to set up a financially profitable take-back and recycling system for the first time in Grundfos in UK. Later, I focused on strategies to optimize the search and value recovery of EoL products. Research results were incorporated into the Grundfos resource recovery project, which set a record high in the same year.

How far are you and what will be your next step?

I am coming to the end of my PhD in the second half of 2020, where I assume a new position as Senior Project Manager for Circular Economy at Grundfos. Nevertheless, my work in research will not come to an end. I am now focusing on the role of digital technologies as a way to preserve more functional product properties (moving from recycling to remanufacturing). I will continue to do this as part of the Circular Economy study circle at Aarhus University and as an active participant and PhD supervisor of the new MADE FAST Circular Economy track.

How will you use the money, if you win the award?

My current research is moving from the fundamentals of the circular economy into the digital domain and I am working on a paper that explores the role of data as an enabler of effective value recovery. I would like to use the prize money to present, discuss and develop this paper at the HICS conference 2021 in Hawaii.

HICS is the worldwide longest-standing working scientific conference in Information Technology Management, which now for the second time offers a special track on Circular Economy.

About nominee: Markus Thomas Bockholt

  • Markus has worked as an industrial PhD student at Aalborg University in the field of Circular Economy and Digitalization associated to MADE work package four about supply chains.
  • He is currently Senior Project Manager for Circular Economy at Grundfos

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