Research Unit


The Research Unit investigates the perspectives for leveraging digitisation for the sustainability transformation while shaping a sustainable digital transformation.

Digitisation is the central change dynamics of the 21st century. Dealing with its impacts and at the same time shaping digitisation itself, hence, is a core task for achieving any globally sustainable development. The Digital Transformation Research Unit addresses both: the ambivalence of the digitisation impact on sustainability as well as the still blurry and contradictory perspectives for sustainable digitisation. Framed by the multi-dimensional problem context the research work emphasises an ecologically perspective: How can digitisation be leveraged to ensure societal and economic development within the planetary boundaries for greenhouse gas emissions and resource consumption and how can the digital transformation itself be managed within the guardrails of these ecological boundaries?

to the team


The complementary view on digitisation characterises the Unit’s research profile. It is the objective

  • to create problem and system knowledge: analysing the current situation and development trends with their driving forces and interdependencies
  • to provide target knowledge: designing realistic and ambitious target pictures and strategic orientation for actors from society, economy and politics
  • to nurture transformation knowledge: tackling concrete innovation tasks in cooperation with problem owners and execution partners and identifying and testing implementation-orientated strategies and solutions
Profile: Research Unit Digital Transformation
Thematic focus areas

The research is centred around the interactions between sustainable digitisation and the industrial transformation towards a decarbonised and resource efficient circular economy.
As a foundation, the technological prospects and innovation dynamics of digital transformations are analysed. Digital technologies, infrastructures, and solutions are investigated with regard to their functionalities, interactions, and impact conditions. This understanding is the basis for the evaluation and strategic design of current and future development paths for digitisation as an enabling driver for sustainability.

With a focus on industrial applications, specific solutions and supporting policy instruments for the digital transformation of the Circular Economy are designed, tested in practical applications and translated into consistent trend-setting strategies for companies, industry sectors and institutions.

Further thematic focus is on the sustainable design of digitisation itself. The environmental impacts of digital technologies and infrastructures are analysed in terms of their current and future resource and energy consumption. Impact parameters, interdependencies, and driving forces are examined in order to derive guardrails and requirements for sustainable digitisation. This leads to forward-looking strategies, targeted solutions and related policy frameworks for managing digitisation within the ecological boundaries.


Here you can find projects of the Research Unit: