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ARRS-RPROJ-JR-PRIJAVA/2023/375 Krepitev razvoja industrijsko simbiotskih omrežij v Sloveniji – prehod v krožno gospodarstvo / Encouraging the development of Industrial Symbiosis Networks in Slovenia – transition to the Circular Economy

The essence of the project is to explore and develop the foundations and guidelines for the transition of companies and industrial ecosystems in Slovenia towards a circular economy. The project identifies connections between various organisations, particularly businesses, and harnesses residues and secondary parts of products for reuse.

Key elements of this project:

Empirical analysis of existing social connections: The project begins with analysing existing social connections among companies and other stakeholders in Slovenia. By mapping the research population, insights are gained into entrepreneurial entities, including their size, location, sector, and primary activities. This analysis is based on content and network analysis and enables an understanding of current connections and stakeholder relationships.

Determining conditions for forming industrial symbiotic networks: The project focuses on defining key requirements for establishing complex industrial symbiotic networks. Key stakeholders involved in shaping such networks will be engaged. The project team will examine available data and analyse potential environmental impacts, particularly related to the thermal treatment of municipal waste.

Development of a model of characteristics and guidelines: The project aims to develop a model that will serve as guidelines for businesses and other stakeholders in the entrepreneurial ecosystem to implement industrial symbiosis and its networks. This model will explore how industrial symbiosis can be realised in southeastern Slovenia and extended throughout the country. Appropriate computer tools will be used to simulate industrial symbiotic networks.

The project's main objective is to promote industrial collaboration among companies and other stakeholders and contribute to more efficient and sustainable resource utilisation, reduced carbon emissions, and the development of business models within the circular economy framework. This is crucial in light of the challenges faced by the country, the economy, the academic sector, and civil society in addressing climate change and sustainable resource use.



The project team is highly interdisciplinary and distinguished in terms of scientific professionalism and publications, ensuring successful project implementation.

The leading research organisation is Rudolfovo – Scientific and Technological Center Novo mesto, collaborating with the Faculty of Information Studies in Novo mesto and the Faculty of Industrial Engineering Novo mesto.


Project Leader: Assist. Prof. Erika Džajić Uršič

Other members:



The activities of the project, as described in your paragraph, include the following steps:


  • The project's initial phase involves a case study, where existing social connections among companies and stakeholders in Slovenia are analysed. This includes mapping and analysing content and network data, such as company size, location, sector, and activities.

  • The project team will collaborate with key stakeholders in shaping industrial symbiotic networks. The goal is to identify conditions and potential environmental impacts, especially related to the thermal treatment of municipal waste.

  • Developing a model of characteristics and guidelines for stakeholders includes creating a model that will guide stakeholders operating in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. This model will enable the simulation of industrial symbiotic networks and consider social aspects such as institutions, social networks, and cognitive frameworks.

  • The project team will focus on researching the impact of social capital on business decisions regarding the transition to a circular economy. Social capital can influence trust among stakeholders and business decisions.

  • The project will involve raising awareness and informing businesses about the benefits of ecodesign, sustainable business practices, and the transition to a circular economy. The goal is to increase understanding of these concepts among businesses.

  • The project will involve various national, regional, and local stakeholders, including government authorities, civil society, and private businesses. The collaboration of these stakeholders is crucial for the successful implementation of the circular economy.

  • The project team will evaluate the potential environmental impact of the transition to a circular economy, including thermal treatments of municipal waste.

  • The research will analyze the interactions between educational/research institutions, industry, and government authorities. The triple helix model will be used to study innovation and economic development in the knowledge society.

  • The project will be carried out based on five planned work packages (WP):


WP1: The first phase of the project (WP1) involves reviewing and analysing relevant scientific and professional literature in the field. The analysis of case studies in this phase will reveal formal and informal social processes, networking, and conditions for cooperation, including partnerships and various strategies for enhancing networks. In the second phase, networking processes in Slovenia will be deeply analysed, focusing on the long-term dynamic context. Based on these findings, guidelines and methodology for developing advanced networks and industrial symbioses for organisations seeking such collaboration will be formulated.


WP2: In the context of empirical research (WP2), qualitative interviews will be conducted with specific stakeholders in the field of waste management in Slovenia (20 interviews across different regions). The research will explore how and why industrial symbiosis and its networks should be developed in Slovenia and the factors influencing cooperation between organisations. The snowball method will be used, and a quadruple helix approach will be followed, involving academics, business professionals, designers, policymakers, and civil society members where possible. Case studies will also be analyzed, and data will be collected and analyzed for synthesis and interpretation.


WP3: Construction of a conceptual model of social fields of potential industrial symbiosis and operationalisation of key properties (WP3) will involve developing a conceptual model of collaboration in industrial symbiosis based on social fields, economic, and environmental properties. This model will serve as the basis for operationalisation and the preparation of a data collection plan.


WP4: In the fourth step of the project (WP4), methods for analyzing results and constructing a model using software tools will be employed. Detailed information from case studies, including obstacles, activities, social drivers, and motivational approaches, will be collected to compare and use in other case studies. This step is a prerequisite for identifying specific changes in such systems in Slovenia. The Expert Decision Method will be used as a professional decision support software tool for simulating the best solutions for each collaboration studied.


WP5: Dissemination, communication, and follow-up (WP5) will ensure the dissemination and communication of project progress and results through existing publications and social media, conference participation, and article publications.



Would you like to contribute with your knowledge and experience? Your opinions, suggestions, and experiences can be precious.


Perhaps you are already researching similar topics, or you are a non-governmental organization working on environmental improvement. Or maybe you have gained experience related to the project's theme in a different context. We welcome your opinions, comments, and suggestions on how to synergize efforts in creating conditions for the existence of responsible individuals, society, and a proper relationship with nature.



Assoc. Prof. Erika Džajić Uršič, Project Leader; Email:

Rudolfovo – Scientific and Technological Center Novo mesto

Podbreznik 15, 8000 Novo mesto

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