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Department of Management

Professor Markus Zils

Professor Markus Zils

Professor for Circular Economy and Management Science (Affiliated Professor)

 +49.175 675 6681



Since May 2019 Prof. Dr. Markus Zils has been working alongside the Center for Circular Economy at the University of Exeter Business School.

Markus holds a PhD in operations research and a master in management science from the University of Cologne and a CEMS-Master from the Community of European Management schools.

As an entrepreneur and consultant Markus has co-founded a start-up in rapid prototyping and software development, worked at McKinsey & Company as a principal in the transportation and logistics, infrastructure practice and as founding member of the circular economy service line serving clients in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas, as well as most recently leading Returnity Partners, a specialized professional service firm dedicated to accelerating the transition towards a Circular Economy via targeted research, consulting and investment projects.


Ph.D. and Master in Management Science and Operations Research from the University of Cologne, CEMS-Master from the Community of European Management Schools

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Research interests

  • Business model innovation in the Circular Economy
  • Business model simulation and optimization
  • Large scale business and system transformations towards a Circular Economy

Research projects

The circular economy is aiming to maintain and maximize economic value by substantially improving resource productivity. Improving product design, setting-up efficient reverse logistics networks and establishing pre-competitive enablers are critical prerequisites for generating value across circular economy value chains. Business model innovation are frequently required for profitably capturing these benefits and to share them across the relevant stakeholders.

In order to identify, prioritize and quantify the benefits of business model innovations simulation and optimization of non-linear effects are important building blocks.

Moving pilot applications into large scale applications requires business and system transformation.

Markus core interest is understanding and optimizing business and economic systems and their transformation to mainstream the application of innovative business models for a Circular Economy.

Current research activity

  • Systematic Circular Economy opportunity scan across different product categories for large scale infrastructure operator
  • Business model simulation for different circular economy configurations 

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External Engagement and Impact

External positions

  • Managing Director of Returnity Partners

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  • Circular Economy masterclass
  • Practitioner focused, dedicated business innovation and transformation classes

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