Live studio session Circular Economy: Under the Radar

  • Speakers:
  • Phil Brown, Melissa Poutrain, Thomas Leech

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  • Details About the session
  • Speakers Info about who's talking

The Disruptive Innovation Festival is an online festival of ideas that asks the question: what if we could redesign everything? During the DIF, we’ll be asking our speakers to tell us what they think is in store for the future of the economy. While watching you can chip in with your thoughts and questions: sign up for a free My DIF account and ask your question through the discussion forum below the live stream!

What’s it like to try and promote the circular economy inside a company that has never come across the term? How do you study and research a new subject area when there is so little academic expertise on the matter? What questions do you ask, and how can you pass your enthusiasm on to others?

Questions like these have been grappled by the guests in this live studio show, and now it’s time for them to share their experience and expertise. Phil Brown, Melissa Poutrain and Thomas Leech are all graduates of the Schmidt MacArthur Fellowship, a masters programme about the circular economy. They have either gone on to work in companies of various sizes, or further research the circular economy at PhD level. Find out how they have managed to open doors and change mindsets (or not…), and, if you are facing the same issues, ask them how you should approach them.


Phil Brown

Phil Brown

Schmidt-MacArthur Fellow,

An MSc student in Environmental Management for Business at Cranfield University, Phil's Masters Thesis and Fellowship Circular Economy Project looked at the potential of WEEE materials for 3D printing.

Through attending events such as the CE100 Annual Summit and a CE100 Acceleration workshop in Barcelona,  Phil's ideas attracted the attention of various businesses and organisations keen to support and communicate the outcomes of his work.

On completing his Masters, Phil worked for a number of years as a Research Engineer for Circular Value Chains, at the High Speed Sustainability Manufacturing Institute (HSSMI).  In 2016 he joined the Circular Product Design team within TU Delft.  His PhD research proposal is to explore tool development to support organisations and their value networks transition to circularity through collaboration.

Melissa Poutrain

Melissa Poutrain

Schmidt-MacArthur Fellow, Steelcase

Melissa is working for Steelcase, leading manufacturer of office furniture, to create new opportunities through different business models. She is building a reverse logistics infrastructure in Europe to unlock some of the opportunities of a circular economy. Melissa contributes to develop and promote a European take-back scheme that has collected so far about 57,000 workstations. The latter have been reused or recycled. Melissa was a Schmidt-MacArthur fellow in 2014. 

Steelcase design products for circularity by avoiding and eliminating materials of concern, optimizing performance throughout the life cycle and for remaking, recovery, and end of life strategies.

Thomas Leech

Thomas Leech

Schmidt-MacArthur Fellow, Shoey Shoes

Thomas Leech is a freelance designer with over a decade of experience working across the design industry, from commercial white goods to luxury fashion. He returned to education in 2014 with a simple ambition; To learn more about how we can help make better things. He became a Schmidt MacArthur Fellow in 2015 that enabled him to explore a new narrative for how designers can bring about positive change and is now actively trying to do just that!

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