Translating Science into Actionable Insights


René Bohnsack, PhD, is Professor for Strategy and Innovation and expert in the field of business model innovation, digital transformation and sustainable innovation. René has published his research in the leading international management and innovation journals (e.g. Research Policy, Journal of Business Venturing, Journal of International Business Studies), 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 the academic director of the Lisbon MBA and is leading the Digital+Sustainable Innovation Lab at Católica-Lisbon which works on advanced business model innovation and well-being in urban areas via sustainable technologies and digital transformation. Next to René’s academic accomplishments, he is also an avid entrepreneur and has founded several companies, for instance a virtual events platform (SCOOCS.co), an e-Health company (fitbase.de), or a business modelling platform (venturely.io).

Research


In my research, I delve into the heart of business model innovation and the transformative potential of Generative AI. This exciting field opens new horizons for how businesses can evolve and adapt in the digital age, underscoring my commitment to driving sustainable and digital innovations across sectors like mobility, energy, and beyond. Through my work, I aim to explore how Generative AI can redefine the building blocks of business models, offering fresh insights and pioneering strategies for the future.

Research Field: Generative AI

Generative AI in Business Development

Research Field: Digital Transformation

Digital mindsets, growth-hacking, patterns.

Research Field: Business Model Innovation

Business model patterns, path dependence, institutional influences.

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: Profiting from innovation when digital business ecosystems emerge: A control point perspective

The shift from the industrial to the digital era has transformed how products and industries are structured, affecting value creation and capture within new digital ecosystems. Historically, product and industry designs allowed certain entities to dominate profits through innovation bottlenecks. Today, innovation profits are increasingly captured by those controlling key elements in a digital layered architecture. This change raises questions about its impact on competition and industry dynamics. Addressing this, our study utilizes the concept of control points to analyze power dynamics in digital ecosystems, focusing on a case study within the smart farming sector. We explore various types of control points and their role in shaping value distribution, revealing a pattern of power shifts among traditional and new market players. Our findings suggest a framework for understanding these dynamics, offering insights for businesses aiming to refine their ecosystem strategies and policymakers looking to foster a supportive institutional environment.

Article: The Organizational Dynamics of Business Models for Sustainability: Discursive and Cognitive Pathways for Change

Business models for sustainability (BMfS) enable organizations to create social and environmental value for a wide variety of stakeholders. As BMfS are new for well-established industries, their implementation requires deep organizational change to overcome path dependencies of existing business models. In this article, we present a framework which outlines the organizational change process involved in BMfS development. The framework shows that organizations can experiment with novel configurations of value, resources, and transactions, and follow discursive and cognitive pathways to enable BMfS legitimization and implementation. Although the value, resources, and transactions levers can be used either separately or in concert, discursive and cognitive pathways are most powerful when pursued together. We use our framework to highlight the contributions of the articles in the special issue and to propose new directions for BMfS research. We argue that future research should investigate the impacts of BMfS on the sustainability challenges they seek to address.

Article: A Systematic Review of the Literature on Digital Transformation: Insights and Implications for Strategy and Organizational Change

In this article we provide a systematic review of the extensive yet diverse and fragmented literature on digital transformation (DT), with the goal of clarifying boundary conditions to investigate the phenomenon from the perspective of organizational change. On the basis of 279 articles, we provide a multi-dimensional framework synthesizing what is known about DT and discern two important thematical patterns: DT is moving firms to malleable organizational designs that enable continuous adaptation, and this move is embedded in and driven by digital business ecosystems. From these two patterns, we derive four perspectives on the phenomenon of DT: technology impact, compartmentalized adaptation, systemic shift and holistic co-evolution. Linking our findings and interpretations to existing work, we find that the nature of DT is only partially covered by conventional frameworks on organizational change. On the basis of this analysis, we derive a research agenda and provide managerial implications for strategy and organizational change.

Teaching


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 innovation.

Executive Education

Corporate Innovation, AI for Business Development, Strategy Development

Workshops

Ideation Hackathons, AI Workshops, Digital Strategy

MBA

Strategic Innovation, Business Model Innovation, Digital Strategy

MSc/BSc

Business Model Innovation

Beyond Católica

René collaborates and gives lectures also in other schools, such as:

This is what Rene's students have to say about him:

“I had the pleasure of being taught by one of the best professors, Rene Bohnsack. His teaching of Digital Strategy and Business Model Innovation is concise and informative. Thanks for this fantastic experience.”

“Very well structured content. Very engaging instructor. Organization and facilities are very good. congratulations”

“Amazing methods of teaching. Keeps the class engaged and is aware if someone in the class is not able to keep up with the pace and makes sure that they are able to catch up.”

Outreach: Labs, Keynote Speaker & Conference Host


As the director of the Digital+Sustainable Innovation Lab at Católica-Lisbon, I have been invited to give talks, organize workshops and host conferences. Examples include TEDx, GRONEN 2020, Smart City Conferences, Brisa Summit, CBRE, MIT, Babson, CENTRUM, Unicorn Factory Lisboa to name a few.

AI Activities


Diving into the world of artificial intelligence, I've been thrilled to lead workshops and share insights on how AI can shape our future, especially in sustainable and digital innovation. My objective is to illuminate the path for integrating AI into business models, emphasizing its crucial role in the future of innovation and entrepreneurship.

ChatGPT for Business Development

The "ChatGPT for Business Development" workshop, hosted by me and Marco Kohns at CATÓLICA-LISBON, focuses on leveraging AI for business innovation, marketing, sales, and operational efficiency. It targets innovation officers, strategy teams, business managers, entrepreneurs, and product developers. The seminar covers practical no-code uses of ChatGPT and other AI tools to enhance business processes, with key objectives including understanding ChatGPT's potential, developing integration strategies, and mastering effective prompting techniques for improved outcomes.

AI Talks

I have given a number of talks on the role of AI in business, sustainability and innovation. To name a few:

“AI for Sustainability in the Context of Small Island States” talk in occasion of 45th birthday of the University of Curaçao Dr. Moises da Costa Gomez

“Three Perspectives on AI in Business: Innovation, Growth, and Sustainability” talk at SKEMA Business School in Paris

“Sustainable Innovation with AI" talk at The Hague University of Applied Sciences

Entrepreneur


In addition to my academic work, I am engaged as an entrepreneur, investor, and advisor. At the moment, I am involved in venturely.io, SCOOCS, and ergofox.me. Previous ventures include fitbase.de and flight-claims.de (both with successful exits).

René is the founder of Venturely.io (formerly Smart Business Modeler), a for profit company with a mission to make empower venture creation. Designed as an AI innovation and management platform, Venturely supports businesses with easy setup of AI-empowered innovation journeys, an AI Agents Suite tailored for each stage of the journey, curated Mini-MBAs for skill acquisition, and powerful innovation tools like Business Model Canvas and Hypothesis Testing Tool.

René co-founded Ergofox which is an exergame startup, dedicated to promote ergonomic awareness and providing digital solutions for comfortable and healthy workspaces in a gamified way. Our mission is to create ergonomic solutions that support better posture, reduce discomfort, and ultimately improve the overall work experience.

René founded SCOOCS in 2020 – a novel all-in-one event and community platform with a sustainable mindset. SCOOCS hosts events and engages communities globally: from scientific and academic conferences to annual forums, trade fairs, and music festivals. SCOOCS received 1 Million in seed funding.

René co-founded fitbase.de with Johannes Heering in 2010 and exited in 2020 to private equity. Fitbase is a pioneer in the development of digital health solutions and was market leader for white label eHealth solutions in Germany. All content and solutions are developed by an interdisciplinary team of experts. This includes certified health promotion courses as well as individual digital solutions for the corporate health management of companies and health insurance companies.