School goes full circle for a new economic model

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BRADFORD University School of Management is championing the concept of a “circular economy” driven by the reuse of materials as its 50th anniversary year sees the launch of a new centre and MBA focused on the idea.

Jon Reast, acting dean and a professor in marketing at the School of Management, said an economy built on principles of sustainability could provide a way for the UK and other developed economies to compete with global low-cost economies.

“We are talking a completely different business model,” he explained. “It would be a completely different manufacturing process with an emphasis on design for re-use rather than design for disposal or just recycling.

“It’s an economy that’s not driven by a constant need for new materials to be found from the planet.” He said this would result in less goods going into landfill, as well as a reduction in energy and raw material costs.

The School of Management is running a competition as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations with the chance to win one of six MBA scholarships, each priced at £2,000 instead of the usual £17,000.

Entrants need to submit a 600-word blog online on the following: “Bradford was at the heart of the first Industrial Revolution, and now it is at the heart of the New Industrial Revolution.

“Discuss the challenges management face in developing new business models around the principles of the circular economy.”

The MBA scholarships on offer include three executive MBAs, for those who wish to study alongside their work, two full-time MBAs and one accelerated MBA. Prof Reast said that Bradford has “always been a real driver in terms of new business and innovation”.

He said: “The idea of a ‘circular economy’ is that you would design things such that they could be re-manufactured, re-used, recycled far more efficiently and effectively, so it goes right back to the design process.

“The other thing it emphasises is perhaps leasing over buying so that perhaps a customer would lease a mobile phone and at the end of its life they would return it.

“There’s more gold in a tonne of mobile phones than there is in a tonne of ore from a gold mine, so there’s a lot of precious metals in things like phones and many of those are very much a finite resource and they are extremely expensive, hence companies wanting to get them back to get those materials out.”

Prof Reast said a lease model would encourage manufacturers of items such as washing machines to make them for the long-term.

The School of Management is working in collaboration with round-the-world yachtswoman Dame Ellen MacArthur, a strong advocate of the idea of a “circular economy”. It is setting up a centre for circular economy, which has yet to be officially named.

A new building on the university’s main campus, based around innovation and sustainability in business, is just being completed and will house the centre.

The School of Management has been running a postgraduate certificate online for members of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation on the topic and it is also launching a new MBA around the subjects of innovation and the circular economy later this year.

“We are very much putting our money where our mouth is. We very much believe in this and we believe we should offer something that educates people on this,” said Prof Reast.

Prof Reast took on the role of acting dean late last year after former dean Sarah Dixon left to take up a role at a university in China after two years in the post.

The deadlines for the School of Management’s 50th anniversary MBA scholarship competition are June 30 for the executive and full-time MBAs, and September 30 for the accelerated MBA. Visit for more details.