Insights into what’s new for The Blue Connection!

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New release of The Blue Connection

Let’s move from talking about the circular economy to acting upon it! The Blue Connection (TBC) is Inchainge’s newest business simulation game and puts you directly in charge of managing the transition from linear to circular business models. This Ultimate Circular Strategy Learning Experience focuses on internal and external alignment, collaboration as well as a company-wide strategy. The simulation immerses you in the fictional company “The Blue Connection”, a company that manufactures e-bikes and finds itself within an inefficient linear strategy and in financial turmoil. As a team of four managers – Sales, Product Design, Supply Chain, and Finance – you will be deciding on the strategy, the quality and recyclability of materials to buy, the cost and process of reusing, remanufacturing and repairing – in other words, the sort of challenges that any real business has to deal with. The business game is played in rounds, with each round representing a long-term scenario, showing the impact of the decisions taken by the team. Participants thereby experience the opportunities of several circular strategies and get to see firsthand how they impacted the development of the company, from a circular and a financial perspective.

What’s new in The Blue Connection?

The Blue Connection was released in 2019 and since then we have been collecting feedback to continue with its development. A few weeks ago, we have launched a new version of The Blue Connection. This new version consists of an improved  interface (e.g. dashboards), user friendliness and storyline (from slowing the loop to closing the loop). In addition to this, the new release of the circular business game introduces several new elements, ranging from state-of-the-art indicators, to new product as a services strategies as well as a more sophisticated part on financing the circular economy. This broadens the scope of The Blue Connection and creates a more comprehensive learning experience for students and professionals.

How to measure circularity?

Let’s start with the new indicators to measure circularity and the progress along the linear to circular transition. The Circular Economy is a continuously relatively new and dynamic field and it sometimes feels like you’re shooting at a moving target. Yet, Inchainge has been able to keep their promise in staying ahead of new developments in the spheres they operate in. While the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) was finalizing their work on the Circular Transition Indicators (CTI), Inchainge worked together with the leading team to incorporate this new global standard in measuring circularity into The Blue Connection. The CTIs make measuring circularity very intuitive and hands on: How much of the company’s total input is circular (return flow)? How much of the total output does not end up as waste? Take both circular inflow and circular outflow together and there we go, you have your “circularity” indicator.

But Inchainge didn’t stop there: “We wanted to be able to combine sustainability and profitability into one single indicator.” Said Egge Haak, co-founder of Inchainge and arguably the one who fathered The Blue Connection. Inspired by the “Value the Loop” indicator from the WBCSD, Inchainge developed the “Return on Material” (ROM) indicator. It compares the profitability of a company with the use of virgin materials. Like the proverbial two birds with one stone, this ratio improves with increased profitability (like the classic return on investment), but also depends on how circular you are (material use intensity, use of secondary materials instead of virgin materials, etc). Who knows, maybe in a few years ROM will replace ROI as the leading indicator for companies across the globe…

A storyline to remember

What do people remember? Experiences! That box we already checked. Another box we were able to check with The Blue Connection is that people remember stories:

  1. Houston, we have a linear problem
    The new release starts with a linear operating company in big turmoil. The idea is to create circularity, but it is not clear yet where to start.
  2. Slowing the loop
    So, we begin with “slowing the loop”: extending the lifetime of the product as much as possible and recovering it to refurbish and sell it again on the second hand market (second life). Not yet circular but a good first step!
  3. Closing the loop
    Next up is “closing the loop”, in other words, preventing materials to end up on the landfill by bringing them back into the value chain of the company. Now we can create real circularity.
  4. The revenue model
    Finally, we can think about different revenue models to fit our overall strategy. Do we choose direct sales, a lease model or maybe a subscription model? Or do we want to differentiate our revenue model per retailer?

This step by step approach allows for a steep learning curve but also for a gradual exploration of circularity with a logical flow of learning goals.

Different customers, different strategies

It’s the key learning of every beginners marketing course: Know your target audience and make sure you tailor your strategy to cater their wants and needs. Otherwise you’ll end up in the infamous stuck in the middle situation.

To represent variating customer demands, the retailers’ target audiences to which you sell to in The Blue Connection have received an identity. Or to stay in the marketing lingo: a persona. This allows you to use different offerings to different target groups. Like in the real world, some people might buy a bike because it’s just a good product, others because it’s the easiest solution in the market and others because it is the most sustainable product. With the new release, The Blue Connection now adequately represents this reality and challenge by introducing different target audiences into play.

Going circular with a product as a service strategy (PaaS)

If you want to cater to different audiences, you will need several business propositions to pick from. Among the most prominent circular strategies are the several product as a service (PaaS) strategies that are used across the globe. Though, including all of them in one business game might be a bit ambitious. The most common and among the most successful circular Paas strategies, are Leasing and Subscription models. While leasing was already a solid part of the first version of The Blue Connection, there is now also the option to offer a subscription model to your target audience. Paas strategies create an enormous return flow and are thus a very interesting option if you want to create circularity. Be cautious though, they can be tricky to finance, which leads us to the next and final announcement.

How do you finance a circular business model?

The Blue Connection has been developed with the support of ING, one of the thought leading banks when it comes to circular economy. Their know-how and experience in financing circular business models has been vital to develop an exciting range of decision for the financial department of The Blue Connection. Especially when talking about the above mentioned Paas strategies, a sound financial plan is crucial to successfully sustain your company. Suddenly the lifetime of your product (design and maintenance), the general period you lease/subscribe your bike (sales offerings), credit rating, and so many other things need to be taken into account when setting up the right long-term agreement with your bank.

How and where is the circular simulation game used?

The Blue Connection is being used across the world at universities to create engaging, challenging courses which cover modern and future-proof topics.

Companies use The Blue Connection for incompany trainings and in their learning and development programs to create a discourse about circular business models, to get more people on board on the topic and/or to create first experiences, learnings and action points.

The Blue Connection can be delivered at a worldwide scale with the help of Inchainge’s global partner network.

Can the simulation be customized?

The Blue Connection experience can be adapted in terms of depth, duration and difficulty, so that it perfectly matches any audience from bachelor student all the way up to C-level executives. The design of a course or training is dependent on learning objectives, the background of the course participants, time constraints, budget constraints, and travel constraints. The delivery can be done online, face-to-face, or in a hybrid setting.

In conclusion

The new release of The Blue Connection offers its participants the opportunity to deep-dive into the opportunities and challenges of various circular strategies. How do you create a circular business model which sustains a business financially in the long term? Those are questions participants are facing and they can learn a lot in an exciting, challenging and team based learning experience. With the new release, Inchainge wants to create the most realistic circular business experience, thereby aiming to catalyze the transition to circular strategies in the mindset within the educational institutions and corporations of this world!

Do you want to know more? Get your free trial and experience The Blue Connection yourself. We will follow up with you to schedule a personal demo and talk through your questions and ideas.

Interested in incorporating The Blue Connection into your university course? Join one of our ‘Train the Trainer’ online courses by checking our event page or get access to the self-paced ‘Train the Trainer’ (e-learning format) by contacting