Solutions for the commercialization challenges of Horizon Europe and earth observation consortia: Co-creation, innovation, decision-making, tech-transfer, and sustainability actions

Luis Filipe Lages, Nuno Catarino, Emanuel Gomes, Peter Toh, Carlos Reis-Marques, Mario Mohr, Sebastian Max Borde, Omid Asgari, Ronnie Figueiredo, Nuno Grosso, David Perez, Ana Ponte, Sílvia Lopes Teixeira, Robin Van Der Schalie, Daniele Fantin, Jo Van Brusselen, Alireza Taravat, Gerd Schmidt

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European Community (EC) Horizon-funded projects and Earth Observation-based Consortia aim to create sustainable value for Space, Land, and Oceans. They typically focus on addressing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Many of these projects (e.g. Commercialization and Innovation Actions) have an ambitious challenge to ensure that partners share core competencies to simultaneously achieve technological and commercial success and sustainability after the end of the EC funds. To achieve this ambitious challenge, Horizon projects must have a proper governance model and a systematized process that can manage the existing paradoxical tensions involving numerous European partners and their respective agendas and stakeholders. This article presents the VCW-Value Creation Wheel (Lages in J Bus Res 69: 4849–4855, 2016), as a framework that has its roots back in 1995 and has been used since 2015 in the context of numerous Space Business, Earth Observation, and European Community (EC) projects, to address complex problems and paradoxical tensions. In this article, we discuss six of these paradoxical tensions that large Horizon Consortia face in commercialization, namely when managing innovation ecosystems, co-creating, taking digitalization, decision-making, tech-transfer, and sustainability actions. We discuss and evaluate how alliance partners could find the optimal balance between (1) cooperation, competition, and coopetition perspectives; (2) financial, environmental, and social value creation; (3) tech-push and market-pull orientations; (4) global and local market solutions; (5) functionality driven and human-centered design (UX/UI); (6) centralized and decentralized online store approaches. We discuss these challenges within the case of the EC H2020 NextLand project answering the call for greening the economy in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We analyze NextLand Online Store, and its Business and Innovation Ecosystem while considering the input of its different stakeholders, such as NextLand’s commercial team, service providers, users, advisors, EC referees, and internal and external stakeholders. Preliminary insights from a twin project in the field of Blue Economy (EC H2020 NextOcean), are also used to support our arguments. Partners, referees, and EC officers should address the tensions mentioned in this article during the referee and approval processes in the pre-grant and post-grant agreement stages. Moreover, we propose using the Value Creation Wheel (VCW) method and the VCW meta-framework as a systematized process that allows us to co-create and manage the innovation ecosystem while engaging all the stakeholders and presenting solutions to address these tensions. The article concludes with theoretical implications and limitations, managerial and public policy implications, and lessons for Horizon Europe, earth observation, remote sensing, and space business projects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1621–1663
JournalElectronic Commerce Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


  • Business models
  • Digital
  • Earth observation
  • eCommerce
  • Horizon 2020
  • Horizon Europe
  • Innovation
  • Online store
  • Remote sensing
  • Satellite-based data
  • Strategic alliances
  • Sustainability
  • VCW-Value Creation Wheel


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