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Barriers to Resource Efficiency Innovations and Opportunities for Smart Regulations − the Case of Germany


  • This article is based on the following working paper: Lemken T, Meinel U, Liedtke C, Kristof K. 2010. Maßnahmenvorschläge zur Ressourcenpolitik im Bereich unternehmensnaher Instrumente. Feinanalysepapier für den Bereich Innovation und Markteinführung. Arbeitspapier zu Arbeitspaket 4 des Projekts “Materialeffizienz und Ressourcenschonung” (MaRess). Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy: Wuppertal. The paper's analysis and the policy proposals flowing from this were developed within the framework of a larger project, assembling research institutions, firms and non-profit organizations, commissioned by the German Federal Environmental Agency, which was charged with developing an exhaustive policy mix aimed at increasing the resource efficiency of the German industry at large. The interview results can be found in Görlach S and Zvezdov D. 2010. Stimmen aus der Praxis: Ergebnisse aus der begleitenden Befragung von Intermediären und Unternehmen zum Thema Ressourceneffizienz. Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy: Wuppertal.


There are a variety of economic and ecological benefits to increased resource efficiency. Social, institutional and technical innovations can all contribute towards efficiency increases. Companies face different hurdles in fostering such innovation. Small and medium-sized companies are subject to specific constraints that may prevent them from benefiting from innovation-induced resource efficiency improvements. Qualitative interviews were conducted among German small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and intermediaries to identify barriers for resource efficiency innovations and to elaborate a policy mix at the federal level that could help SMEs to overcome these. We found five major barriers to resource efficiency innovations in German SMEs, comprising deficits in innovation culture, inter-firm cooperation along the value chain, finance, awareness and take-up of government funds. We propose a distinct policy mix as a response to this situation. The policy mix comprises the interlocking and synergistic elements of government funding schemes, innovation agents and innovation laboratories. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.