Sustainable development requires radical and systemic innovations. Such innovations can be more effectively created and studied when building on the concept of business models. This concept provides firms with a holistic framework to envision and implement sustainable innovations. For researchers, the concept provides an analytical tool that allows them to assess the interplay between the different aspects that firms combine to create ecological, economic, and social value. In addition, the business model concept provides a link between the individual firm and the larger production and consumption system in which it operates. This paper provides an introduction to the special issue, which emerged from selected papers presented at the ERSCP-EMSU 2010 Conference held in Delft, The Netherlands. Papers in the special issue cover a broad range, from a conceptual discussion resulting in a research agenda, the assessment of diffusion of specific business models such as Product-Service Systems, the introduction of new management tools for business transition management, to case studies on how specific business models evolved in specific communities. Together, these papers provide insight into the promise of the business model concept for understanding and advancing sustainable innovation. (C) 2013 Published by Elsevier Ltd.