Vici grant of 1,5 million awarded to TU Delft IDE Professor Ruth Mugge

News - 23 February 2023 - Communication

The TU Delft | Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering is proud to announce that Prof. dr. ir. Ruth Mugge has been awarded the prestigious NWO Vici grant in the field of Social Sciences and Humanities. This grant, worth 1,5 million euros, enables Professor Mugge to develop an innovative line of research and extend her research group. Mugge’s research will focus on slowing down premature obsolescence of products by keeping the value of consumer electronics high through design.

IDE Professor of Design for Sustainable Consumer Behavior Ruth Mugge

Slowing down premature obsolescence

Early replacement of consumer electronics has a strong negative impact on the environment. In Europe, consumer electronics generated 12Mt of waste in 2020. And this amount continues to  grow at a rate of 3-5% per year. One way of tackling this issue is to increase a product’s lifetime with its first owner. 

Professor Mugge explains: “When consumers consider replacing a product, value trade-offs take place between the value of the old product, such as emotional and functional value, and the expected value and costs of a new one.” 

“Thus far, research on slowing down premature obsolescence has focused on keeping the products’ functional value high, such as design for repair. However taking into account the large number of products that are replaced while functioning perfectly, preserving only functional value is insufficient to prevent premature obsolescence.”

“This project’s objective is to develop and empirically test new theories, design tools and guidelines on the value of design for slowing down premature obsolescence. Specifically, this Vici-project focuses on strengthening products’ epistemic and emotional value, and preserving the mental book value.”

“This interdisciplinary project requires a combination of research methodologies from consumer research and sustainable design research, thereby taking an innovative multi-method approach. Qualitative and quantitative consumer studies will be combined with design research methods to generate knowledge on what design interventions can preserve the value that consumers perceive in owned products during ownership.”

About Professor Ruth Mugge

Ruth Mugge’s positions as Full Professor in Design for Sustainable Consumer Behavior (0.8fte; TUDelft) and Full Professor in Responsible Marketing (0.2fte; Amsterdam Business School) illustrates her expertise in conducting interdisciplinary research by integrating theories from design, sustainability, and consumer behaviour. Her ambition is to translate the new theories into actionable design tools that will help organisations and policy makers fight premature obsolescence of consumer electronics, thereby contributing to a sustainable society.

About the NWO Talent Programme

The NWO Talent Programme offers personal grants to talented, creative researchers. This enables them to conduct the research of their choice. The Talent Scheme has three funding instruments - Veni, Vidi, Vici - tailored to various phases in researchers' scientific careers. Vici is for senior researchers who have demonstrated an ability to develop their own line of research. It is one of the largest scientific grants for individuals in the Netherlands.