Impact Driven

René Bohnsack, PhD, is Professor for Strategy and Innovation at Católica-Lisbon and founder of the Smart City Innovation Lab and Business Model Design Lab at Católica Lisbon School of Business and Economics. René has published his research in the leading international management and innovation journals (e.g. Research Policy, Journal of Business Venturing, California Management Review), has been invited to present his research at the top international conferences, received the Best Paper Award at the Academy of Management ONE Division in 2019, in Sustainable Entrepreneurship in 2016, and the 3rd prize for the best innovation management paper 2013. René is leading two labs at Católica-Lisbon which work on advanced business model innovation (Business Model Design Lab), wellbeing in urban areas via sustainable technologies, and digital transformation (Smart City Innovation Lab). Moreover, René consults companies on strategic issues related to business modelling, digital transformation and internationalization. In total, he collaborates with 40+ companies across Europe. Next to René’s academic accomplishments, he also co-founded several companies, for instance an online platform for social carsharing, a start-up for flight refunds, and an e-Health company.


In my research I focus on business models, topics that I am interested in are business model innovation based on patterns, business model internationalization, as well digital transformation. I am particularly interested in smart city related industries, e.g. mobility, energy, IoT.

Research Field: Business Model Innovation

Business model patterns, path dependence, institutional influences.

Research Field: International Business

Global technology trajectories and international business.

Research Field: Digital Transformation

Digital mindsets, growth-hacking, patterns.

Presentation of Research

In this TEDx talk I present my vision of business model innovation in the future, based on a configurational perspective, using patterns.

Selected Publications

Article: Business models for sustainable technologies: Exploring business model evolution in the case of electric vehicles

Embedded in the literature on business models, this paper explores how incumbent and entrepreneurial firms’ path dependencies have affected the evolution of business models for electric vehicles. Based on a qualitative analysis of electric vehicle projects of key industry players over a five-year period, the paper identifies four business model archetypes and traces their evolution over time. Findings suggest that incumbent and entrepreneurial firms approach business model innovation in distinctive ways. Business model evolution shows a series of incremental changes that introduce service-based components, which were initially developed by entrepreneurial firms, to the product. Over time there seems to be some convergence in the business models of incumbents and entrepreneurs in the direction of delivering economy multi-purpose vehicles.

Article: Value propositions for disruptive technologies: Reconfiguration tactics in the case of electric vehicles

How do firms reconfigure their value proposition as a way to overcome the technological inferiority of disruptive technologies? Based on evidence on the commercialization of electric vehicles, this paper explores the tactics firms use to reconfigure value propositions to increase market acceptance from mainstream customers. The paper develops a framework showing three reconfiguration tactics: compensating, enhancing, and coupling tactics.

Article: When Incumbents Change Their Mind: Framing Strategic Reorientation in Emerging Fields

How actors evaluate the prospects of novel, sustainable technologies is unlikely to remain stable over time. The qualitative study explores how the German car industry gradually shifted from opposing to supporting electric mobility over the past 25 years. How actors such as incumbents communicate about the prospects of an emerging field and their own role in this field is important because it guides meaning-making and action by other actors. Insights into the question how incumbents handle the phase-out of old technologies and the phase-in of new technologies can support a better understanding of incumbent behavior in sustainability transitions.


I teach and give workshops in degree, executive and corporate programs. These focus mostly on themes at the intersection of business model innovation, strategy, and digital.

Smart City Workshop

For one of our corporate partners we developed a custom program, focused on smart cities, business model innovation and implementation. In this video you see the result of the program.


Digital Business Models, International Strategy


Business Model Innovation, Sustainable Business

Executive Education

Strategy, Innovation Management, Entrepreneurship & New Technologies

Outreach: Labs, Keynote Speaker & Conference Host

As the director of the Smart City Innovation Lab and Business Model Design at Católica-Lisbon, I have been invited to give talks, organize workshops globally for diverse audiences and host conferences. Examples include TEDx, GRONEN 2020, Smart City Conferences, Brisa Summit, MIT, Babson.

Educational Entrepreneur

In addition to my academic endeavors, I am engaged as an investor, partner, and adviser in several companies. At the moment, I am involved in fitbase,, ergofox and bizzmoo.