Sustainable Product Development

Sustainable Product Development

Project status


Project Manager


Sophie Hallstedt


Research in Strategic Sustainable Development

IVA's 100 list 2020The research objective is to strengthen industry’s capacity to develop sustainable solutions by integrating and implementing sustainability in the innovation process. Socio-ecological problems are to be reduced at the same time as there is a need for a development of innovative solutions. Our research combines backcasting and forecasting in decision support tools that allow companies to adopt a unique and pioneering strategic approach to sustainability. This contributes to the development of companies and increases their organisational abilities to develop sustainable solutions in parallel with consideration for other values and risks.

Our research contributes to solve society’s challenges

Our research is important to enable society to more rapidly transition to more sustainable development. Changes such as service development and increased digitalisation can together with more sustainable product development generate new jobs, new innovations and a more resource-efficient society. The societal challenges to which a product may contribute, e.g. the over-extraction of renewable resources and low recycling of valuable metals, can be detected and eliminated early in the product innovation process using the support tools and models developed from our research. Furthermore, the efficient utilisation of sustainability-related information and data creates a clearer scope for solutions and more knowledge at an early stage, which can lead to sustainable decisions. In our research projects, we work on how disciplines using an interdisciplinary approach can create these new innovative solutions for a more sustainable societal change and efficient use of digitalisation. In addition, every year we train future engineers within the area as a way to spread and increase knowledge within companies, both nationally and internationally.

Utilisation of our research in industry

Our published research is generic and can be applied by any sector of industry, which means it can have a considerable impact. The effects of our research work are already evident. One example is the collaborative partner, GKN Aerospace Engine Systems, which increased its capacity to integrate sustainability into the early product development phases in order to improve support for decisions in the everyday technical environment. Many of the tools and proposed approaches developed in our research have been integrated in GKN’s product development process and are now a part of the daily engineering environment. Our research played a part in GKN winning a sustainability award in 2017. Pratt & Whitney, a leading company in the design, manufacturing and maintenance of aircraft engines named GKN Aerospace Sweden as the winner of the Sustainability Award 2017 (among 400 entrants). GKN has found our research useful and therefore participated in more research projects. This has also been a way to increase the research team’s capacity as well as collaboration opportunities with other companies.

How our research relates to the UN’s Agenda 2030 global sustainable development goals (SDGs)  

Our research contributes to meeting the UN’s global goals SDG 9 “Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure” and SDG 12 “Responsible Consumption and Production”, but also contributes to many other SDGs, as they are integrated and interrelated. In practical terms, our research helps to promote industry’s maturity regarding sustainable innovations (9.4), which lead to economic growth and inclusive and sustainable industrialisation (9.2) by providing companies with the capacity to understand and realise the business concept of integrating and applying sustainability. By developing practical support tools that demonstrate more sustainable results from different case studies, it is possible to see how in the long-term altered actions and implementation become financially profitable. A system perspective that includes both ecological, social and economic dimensions ensures the efficient use of natural resources (12.2), a reduced impact from chemicals (12.4), a circular material flow with minimal waste (12.5), and that social and economic aspects are considered. The research thus also contributes to the goals included in 10YFP (12.1), such as encouraging sustainable production and increasing cooperation and the exchange of experiences between parties.

The SPD team

The Sustainable Product Development team (SPD) leads by Sophie I. Hallstedt. SPD is a profile research track area and  a part of the Profile project  Model Driven development and Decision Support at Blekinge Institute of Technology. The relatively young multidisciplinary research team, consisting of six researchers at different stages of their academic careers, has generated successful research publications. In the past five years, they have ranked highly in evaluation processes for research quality and research impact, such as “top 1% most cited in the world within its category”, according to the external and independent Damvad Analytics. This driving force and capacity are also shown by grants from external funders for several research projects and that a number of companies are involved as partners in projects.

 Our action research develops, applies, tests and evaluates methods and tools that generate directly applicable results, which can be utilised in companies for the development of new business or solutions.

We currently focus on, among other things, how sustainability criteria can be included in the specification of requirements and in risk management at different levels of a company, as well as how their effect can be visualised in concept development. An approach for identifying a company’s “Sustainability Design Space” is one example of an innovative research contribution that provides support in identifying prioritised sustainability aspects and estimating a solution’s sustainability level. A short description of  each researcher’s focus is described below:

How a long-term sustainability perspective can be included in the risk management process – Jesko Schulte

Sustainable development is not only of societal interest – it also makes perfect business sense. The inevitable transition of society towards a sustainable state poses significant risks for companies, for example in relation to brand and reputation, legislative change, and shifting customer demands. It is companies that can turn such risks into business opportunities that will be long-term competitive and successful. This research is therefore investigating how a strategic sustainability perspective can be integrated into risk management processes and support tools.

How social sustainability targets can be identified and implemented together with ecological sustainability targets – Patricia Lagun Mesquita.

With focus on the least explored area of sustainability, this research seeks to clarify what social sustainability means in the context of product development and develop support for companies to integrate social sustainability aspects in the product innovation process in a strategic way. Examples of developed support include product social hotspot assessment, criteria for socially sustainable design and concept comparison and selection.

How to guide decision-making in requirements management from a sustainability and value perspective- Matilda Watz

Socio-ecological considerations need to be part of the early requirements specification, the spark to any product innovation process, to at all be prioritized, and to minimize risk for sustainability sub-optimizations. To enhance implementation of sustainable product development methods, tools and approaches it is therefore necessary to design the operational management system so that needs and requirements are sourced from a sustainability context. Then, traceability can be achieved for also socio-ecological considerations in engineering requirements. A profile model for management of sustainability integration in requirements have been proposed, and a group model building method is under development to capture wider stakeholder sustainability value perspectives in early phases of product innovation projects.

How to measure a progression towards sustainability targets- Sophie I. Hallstedt

A unique approach, Sustainability Design Space, has been developed to be used in early design for how to identify what are the prioritized sustainability aspects for a company products and production & what degree a concept performs in relation to a sustainable solution. From this Sustainability indicators have been derived and is linked to product requirements and give a quantitative value that are visualised in a simulation model to guide decsions in a multidisciplinary group.

How to develop a sustainability product portfolio- Carolina Villamil

When companies set their product portfolio, there is an opportunity to implement sustainability into several products lines and services at the early stages of the innovation process. The aim of this project is to develop a methodology based on strategic sustainability, to guide companies to implement sustainability in their product portfolio. The study will focus on the development of a portfolio evaluation criteria model that includes sustainability aspects, to ensure the selection of the right portfolio components.

How to enhance sustainability communication between customers and product developers?- Sze Yin Kwok

Companies are interested in the real competitive advantage brought by having a deep understanding of the customer preference for sustainability information, specific to their industry, to anticipate needs and offer differentiated products. This research focuses on proposing a new approach to guide product developers to understand and model customers preference for product sustainability information.



From 2008 -

Contact Person


Sophie Hallstedt


Approach for Sustainability Criteria and Product Lifecycle Data Simulation in Concept Selection (Presented by Dr Sze Yin Kwok, for 16th International Design Conference 2020)


Jesko Schulte

Jesko Schulte
Biträdande universitetslektor

Matilda Watz

Matilda Watz
Biträdande universitetslektor

Sze Yin Kwok

Sze Yin Kwok
Biträdande lektor

Josefin Lövdahl

Josefin Lövdahl
Doctoral student

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