In a CE, materials and products are reused as much as possible through recycling, repair, refurbishment and sharing of products and materials. However, a lack of data concerning the usage history and physical state of the products (or its components) and materials and sharing of data between the different partners of the value chain, often hinders the uptake of these CE strategies. Especially because of reluctance to share (sensitive) data among value chain actors, a blockchain can address the data-related issues as it allows to access other value chain actor’s data without revealing each other’s identity. In short, blockchains store data on the transaction of products, and data on the product itself in a distributed ledger, a system widely accepted for its data accuracy and data authenticity. In case the blockchain technology is combined with track and trace technology (e.g. monitoring or sensor technology), the blockchain can provide a means to guarantee the trustworthiness of the product data and ensure a link between the physical product and the accompanying data. As such, blockchain can assist in determining the (geographic) location, physical condition, track record of defects & repairs, and ownership status of materials, products, or products parts in the value chain.

The disclosure of this information is essential in order to allow the transactions within a circular economy which would previously be hindered by a lack of data. It is still to be investigated how this information should be processed and disclosed in real-time in order to allow optimal steering of circular transactions. At present, the circular economy struggles with these kind of questions, and often needs a middleman to answer them. This however increases the number of parties involved in the circular value chain and hence increases a circular system’s complexity and cost. The implementation of blockchain technology can avoid the introduction of the additional layers in the circular value chain (i.e. the role of middlemen) in case the blockchain technology can provide the necessary information to efficiently answer the repair or replace question.

The goal of the envisaged project is three(four)fold:

1. Identify potential circular economy innovations (business cases) which are currently complicated due to a lack of trust during the transaction phases, or currently rely upon the intervention of a middlemen;
2. Assess the potential of  blockchain as enabler of the endangered circular transactions, or reduce complexity by decreasing the need for a middle-men as transaction facilitator;
3. Assess the potential of a kind of automated circular decision making tool: the tool will make use of blockchain technology to distribute (e.g. sensory) data among the involved parties in a circular value chain. Artificial Intelligence will then be applied in order to automate the decision making, based upon the gathered data. Once the potential of these tools is analyzed, the project will investigate to what extent this kind of innovations will disrupt the current value chains and create new business model opportunities.
4. If deemed relevant for the research: Conclude a first estimate of the environmental impact of a blockchain driven circular innovation, balancing the environmental gains of increased circularity and environmental costs related to for example the energy use of the blockchain itself.

With this call, we invite researchers to submit their resumé (including track-record) and a one-page project description, that will be the basis for selecting candidates with whom we will collaborate for developing competitive MSCA-IF proposals.
• Collaborations
Discussions are running.

• Deadline application to VITO
Interested candidates should submit their resume (incl. track record) and a one-page note describing the project for which a Marie Curie grant will be applied, before Friday 17 April 2020 17h Brussels time.

• Deadline MSCA-IF 2020
Wednesday 9 September 2020 17h Brussels time.


We invite applicants to propose a more detailed and focused research approach within the scope of this MSCA-IF Fellowship as a part of their application. We are primarily looking for experienced researchers who wish to use this period as an opportunity to further develop their research, and to develop longer-term research collaborations with VITO and other institutions conducting research in the field.
The candidates as in principle must be eligible for a Marie Curie Individual Fellowship – please refer to the conditions set-out in the H2020 MSCA Work Programme.

The following assets will be advantageous:
An excellent track record in research, necessary for being able to develop a competitive Marie Curie Fellowship application;

  • An open and cooperation-oriented nature, but with strong abilities for independent research work;
  • Thorough knowledge of data science techniques in areas such as machine learning, reinforcement learning and statistical methods such as regression and clustering analysis
  • Hands-on experience with R or Python and flexible in working with other data science setups
  • Believe that data science is an important asset for a more sustainable and circular economy, and ambition to link data science techniques to applicable business opportunities
  • Communicate smoothly and able to present ideas to persons with different backgrounds
  • highly proficient in spoken and written English.

Initially, we offer assistance in developing competitive Marie Curie Individual Fellowship proposals.


Then, to successful applicants to the Marie Curie program, we offer;

  • An exciting opportunity at VITO, the independent Flemish research organisation in the area of cleantech and sustainable development. Our goal? To accelerate the transition to a sustainable world;
  • Participation in a dynamic professional research & innovation community;
    Flexible working conditions;
  • An inclusive and friendly work environment;
  • On-boarding assistance and other services.