Mapping Technologies to Business Models: An Application to Clean Technologies and Entrepreneurship

39 Pages Posted: 31 May 2022 Last revised: 22 Jun 2022

See all articles by Julian Oliver Dörr

Julian Oliver Dörr

Justus-Liebig-University Giessen; ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research

Date Written: April 15, 2022


Theory suggests that new market entrants play a special role for the creation of new technological pathways required for the development and diffusion of more sustainable forms of production, consumption, mobility and housing. Unconstrained by past technological investments, entrants can introduce more radical environmental innovations than incumbent firms whose past R&D decisions make them locked into path-dependent trajectories of inferior technologies. Yet, little research exists which provides empirical evidence on new ventures’ role in the technological transition towards decarbonization and dematerialization. This is mainly due to a lack of historical information about entrants’ R&D and patenting activities, which are typically used to determine a company’s technological footprint. To allow for identification of clean technology oriented market entrants and to better understand their role as adopters and innovators for sustainable market solutions, this paper introduces a framework that systematically maps new ventures’ business models to a set of well-defined clean technologies. For this purpose, the framework leverages textual descriptions of new entrants’ business summaries that are typically available upon business registration and allow for a good indication of their technological orientation. Furthermore, the framework uses textual information from patenting activities of established innovators to model semantic representations of technologies. Mapping company and technology descriptions into a common vector space enables the derivation of a fine-granular measure of entrants’ technological orientation. Applying the framework to a survey of German start-up firms suggests that clean technology oriented market entrants act as accelerators of technical change: both by virtue of their existing products and services and through a high propensity to introduce additional environmental innovations.

Keywords: clean technologies, technological orientation, environmental innovation, sustainable entrepreneurship, text modeling, natural language processing

JEL Classification: C38, O13, Q55

Suggested Citation

Dörr, Julian Oliver, Mapping Technologies to Business Models: An Application to Clean Technologies and Entrepreneurship (April 15, 2022). Available at SSRN: or

Julian Oliver Dörr (Contact Author)

Justus-Liebig-University Giessen ( email )

Licher Str. 64
Giessen, 35394

ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research ( email )

P.O. Box 10 34 43
L 7,1
D-68034 Mannheim, 68034


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