"Servicizing" – a relatively new concept to make the use of natural resources more efficient – is filtering through the world. The concept has now been "packaged" in an EU project, SPREE, in which JIIS plays a leading role.
"We are witnessing a new type of transition from selling products to providing services. For example, instead of buying cars people will start to rent them; even products such as carpets – many things, really, can be rented rather than purchased,” explains Yael Marom, manager of the project at JIIS. This change in concept provides major environmental and economic incentives to both sides to be more efficient: producers won't be selling products but rather providing functions that have to be serviced – and it will be in their interest to make it high-level service so as to enjoy long-term patronization; consumers, for their part, will start using only what they need, and only when they actually need it, because they will be paying for whatever they consume.
"The idea of servicizing, then, is that suppliers, on the one hand, can boost the durability of their products by changing their business models and redesigning products, while for consumers, on the other hand, there are economic advantages to using products in a more efficient way," she says.
SPREE (Servicizing Policy for Research Efficient Economy) is a three-year project that falls under the environment theme within the EU's Seventh Framework Program (FP7). "The aim of the project is to identify potential 'servicizing policy packages' and simulate their effect on economic growth and resource use," says Marom, adding that the focus for now is on three sectors: water, mobility and agri-food.
SPREE is managed by an international consortium of 10 partners, including research institutes and public bodies, from seven different EU member states and associated countries (the UK, Sweden, the Netherlands, Spain, Finland, Lithuania and Israel). The coordinator is the Research Council of Lithuania. JIIS, Tel Aviv University (TAU) and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) are the three Israeli partners, with JIIS and TAU the scientific leaders of the SPREE project. "JIIS initiated the project and was responsible for the composition of the consortium and the research proposal. We are in charge of the day-to-day management of the research, policy research aspects and targeted studies in the sectors of mobility and water." As well as Marom, the JIIS team includes Prof. Eran Feitelson, the scientific manager of the project, and Dr. Dan Kaufmann, head of JIIS' Center for Innovation Policy and a senior lecturer at BGU who will be in charge of the study on eco-innovation, an area in which he has considerable experience.