Business model innovations driven by changing regime boundary conditions

“From 2012 to 2020, 17 vehicle manufacturers and 38 electric cars revealed a diverse menu of options with business model innovations originating at the crossing of boundaries between the electric and automotive socio-technical systems.”

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The energy and industry transition, increasingly present on the global agenda, require complex socio-economic involvement, as they move away from individual approaches and linear principles of cause-effect to collective approaches to systemic causes (Frantzeskaki and Rok, 2018). In this context, the business model, defined as how an organization creates, delivers, and captures value, in economic, social, cultural, or other contexts, can play a crucial role in supporting innovation and the development of economic activities (Costa et al., 2021).

Business models innovation, forged by new socio-technical arrangements, driven by incumbents' new interactions with science, technological evolution, and digitalization, can generate opportunities to define, create, capture value (monetary and non-monetary) and leverage new arrangements and development opportunities (Wang & Wells, 2021; Pedersen et al., 2021).

However, less structured companies may not have the scope or depth of competencies needed to deal with complex and comprehensive issues such as regulatory provisions, consumer attitudes and restricted market access, and, thus, may be limited to business models ossified within highly structured socio-technical systems. Nonetheless, well-structured organizations capable of dealing with complex elements, such as those in the automotive and renewable energy industries, are more likely to develop and benefit from business model innovations (BMI).

For example, the development of electric mobility with consequent growth in the demand for electricity (Aguilar Dominguez et al., 2020), preferably from renewable sources, has caused the boundary spanning of the automotive and energy industries. Confronted with emerging technologies, innovation, and alternative forms of mobility (Hildermeier and Villareal, 2014) both industries realized new opportunities for interaction and collaboration from through crossing-boundary system, enabling the emergence of business model innovations.

This new confluence of interests between the participants of the electricity system (from the possibility of supplying electricity and new services for electric vehicles) and the automobility industry (from the possibility of storage, generation, and supply of electricity for consumer) can influence sectoral policies and favour the emergence of BMI potentially capable of contributing to processes of socio-technical transition (Aagaard et al., 2021).

In addition, a number of other factors also contribute to changes in the perspective of the energy sector's business models such as a) Change from the centralized generation model in plants dominated by large public organizations to decentralized, digitalized, and small-scale production such as prosumers supported by broad incentive policies (Sovacool and Geels, 2016; Kamenopoulos and Tsoutsos, 2019), b) Deregulation potentially capable of stimulating increased competition and greater financial pressure on state monopolies, and c) Privatization with the expansion of renewables, especially solar PV and wind sources that are modular and scalable, flexible, decentralized, digitally enabled, and whose facilities can be shared by homes and small businesses (Olkkonen et al., 2017; Van de Graaf, 2019) capable accelerate the process of expanding renewables in the electricity grid (Haar, 2020).

On the automotive industry perspective, a mass production of batteries (both for vehicles and for energy storage applications), emergence of new technologies (such as smart grid, smart charging, vehicle-to-grid, etc.), expansion of the charging infrastructure, digitalization with the launch of new applications and services diversification (battery swap system, the consumers may have the option of leasing batteries and buying the cars separately), and the emergence of new mobility systems (its ride sharing and ride hailing) were the most significant aspects for the emergence of innovative business models (Costa et al., 2021).

A recent study on the business model innovations due to the boundary-spanning of the automotive and energy industries analyzed more than 100 projects and found that “from 2012 to 2020, 17 vehicle manufacturers and 38 electric cars revealed a diverse menu of options with business model innovations originating at the crossing of boundaries between the electric and automotive socio-technical systems” (Costa et al., 2021).

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Evaldo Costa

Post-Doctor Researcher, ISCTE – Instituto Universitário de Lisboa – Centro de Estudos sobre a Mudança Socioeconómica e o Território

Evaldo Costa is an interdisciplinary fellowship researcher working in a project funded by Portuguese agency for science and technology (FCT). He has experience in Environmental Sciences and Environmental Engineering. His background includes a Ph.D. in Climate Change and Sustainable Development Policies from NOVA University of Lisbon, Portugal, and a Ph.D. in Business Economics at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium. His research focuses on sustainable transition pathways. Specifically, on mechanisms to support the decarbonizing of economy through boost renewable energy sources (RES), clean technologies, digitalization, and innovation processes. He has been exploring various theories and mobilized a wide range of methods and techniques, and tools covering quantitative, qualitative studies. His previous research evaluated on renewables source (solar and wind), electric mobility, and its infrastructure, and industry considering a) business model innovation; b) CO2 emissions inventory; c) energy balance; and d) public policies to overcome socio-technical barriers. He has relevant international experience in collaborative research in North America (USA), Europe (Belgium, Ireland, Portugal, United Kingdom) and South America (Brazil); publishing articles in top/peer-reviewed journals, experiencing presentations at international conferences (Europe, North America, South America, and Africa); submitting projects for national and international funding agencies; and member of previous funded project. Furthermore, he has acted as a reviewer for top/indexed journals, become a member of a Ph.D. supervisory board, and keeps a wide and active international scientific relationship network. Before shifting his career to the research field, he worked several years as a university professor, and as an international industry consultant. He hopes contributing to a more sustainable and a better world.