Creating sustainable value through business experimentation: A study of cleantech start-ups

Annabeth Aagaard, Ulla Saari, Saku Mäkinen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review

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This paper explores the business experimentation processes of start-ups in creating sustainable value in the cleantech sector. Especially for sustainability-oriented innovations and eco-innovations, the business development process can be long and challenging. Also, there is not a clear understanding of the capability building and learning processes and activities of business experimentation in start-up. Based on the findings from seven start-up companies in cleantech, a conceptual model is created to demonstrate how start-ups conduct business experimentation, learn, and build capacity together with their customers and their stakeholders in (co-)creating sustainable value. The key theoretical contributions of the paper include further development of the Lean Startup model and our understanding of the specific learning and capability-building activities in purposeful and explorative experimentation of start-ups. The managerial implications of the study stress the application of super lean business experimentation through selling demos and fast failure, and creating sustainable value by expanding the scope of technology-driven business experimentation through a joint learning and capability-building process.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 20th International CINet Conference
Subtitle of host publicationInnovating in an era of continuous disruption
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication typeA4 Article in conference proceedings
EventInternational CINet Conference - University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark
Duration: 8 Sept 201910 Sept 2019


ConferenceInternational CINet Conference
Internet address


  • business experimentation
  • business experimentation process
  • sustainable value creation
  • eco-innovation
  • start-up
  • cleantech

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1


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