Geneva Symbiosis

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Short description

Input-output analysis of regional companies for symbiotic connections.


Geneva Symbiosis is an innovative approach to regional synergies, in which a team of researchers investigated the major industrial actors in the area to find compatable input-output connections between the feedstocks and residuals of each company’s processes.


  • Guillaume Massard

Qualitative Analysis

Description of the Process

The Geneva Symbiosis project’s methodology involved finding new opportunities and partners using GIS-linked regional company database.  From the in-out analysis of 19 companies from 10 main industrial sectors, the GIS interface detects other potential partners companies that may be able to symbiotically link their inputs and outputs.  Information was collected empirically in one-to-one meetings and systematically (database management using the Presteo© tool).  With preliminary results, feasibility was examined regarding geographic, economic, and environmental factors.  If limiting factors were absent, then potential synergies between industrial actors was detected.  If limiting factors were found, then alternatives were sought for each flow.  For feasible matches, synergetic relationships were proposed to the actors, who in turn could accept and consider implementation or reject.  For those who accepted, a multi-stakeholder meeting was held, and technical studies were conducted.  Importantly, not only connections between existing companies was considered – the analysis of the industrial ecosystem extended to review of niche markets that could be filled by new activities (meaning new businesses), such as a crushing-calibration platform for recycling concrete, or a regenerator for organic solvents between chemical industries.


The researchers at the University of Lausanne – Industrial Ecology Group cite Agenda 21, Article 12, as the motivation of their approach, “The State facilitates possible synergies between economic activities in order to minimize their environmental impacts.”  They got together with project partners in government, education, and technology to approach the problem on the regional scale.  Their methodology included a regional assessment of resources through a material flow analysis, a pilot project for detecting regional industrial symbiosis, and finally an attempt to realize industrial symbiosis networks.  The goals established were to lower the industrial activity impacts, re-use by-products locally to avoid transportation, and to create new economic activities.  A total of 19 companies were involved in the program, including the sectors: agro-food, printing, pharmaceutical, chemical, building, machining, wastewater, and electronics.

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