PHD POSITION Ex-ante sustainability assessment: the problem of upscaling and learning.

Job description

R&D departments are facing increasing pressure with regards to the successful development of new technologies. The more technologies that are developed and consequently patented and transferred the better R&D is said to function. To relieve some of this pressure they may resort to stage-gate like approaches that set criteria that are to be met before being allowed to continue to the next stage in the development process. For those decisions they rely on the identification of a roadmap that sets specific targets for each phase in the technology development project. Moreover, this innovation management approach emphasizes setting targets from early technology readiness level because it is precisely in these early stages of development that there is still room for easy adjustment to the concept being developed. Various methodologies are available for performing such an ex-ante sustainability assessment, including a techno-economic assessment (TEA), prospective (social) life cycle analysis or techno-sustainability assessment. Yet, these methods all face one common issue. They are taxed with quantifying the case for a technology that has often not left the laboratory. This is challenging as this means comparing performances to technologies that have matured and are available on the market. To even this playing field one may consider projecting the performance of immature technologies into the future.


The goal of this PhD is not to rehash the literature on scenario planning. We wish to investigate how scaling and learning effects can be included in a sustainability assessment of a technology that currently resides at low TRL.
The PhD is a collaboration between VITO, the Antwerp University and Hasselt University.


For more information, please contact dr. Miet Van Dael: miet.vandael@vito.be

You can apply for this PhD vacancy no later than October 24, 2022.

Job requirements

  • You hold a Master's degree in Applied economics, Commercial engineer or Bioengineer.
  • You have a result-driven character, able to translate stakeholder needs into practical, scientifically supported solutions.
  • You are fluent in English, both oral and written. Knowledge of Dutch is a plus.
  • You are eager to write scientific papers.
  • The candidate must have the ability to assess resource requirements and use the resources effectively.