Circular Valley
Newsletter 3/2022
Image: Hist. Stadthalle © Lars Langemeier
Large stage for the best ideas of the Circular Economy
At the DemoDay, the focus of the batch and thus also of the current discussions on the circular economy were evident: On the topic of "alternative raw materials", the audience learned how straw can be turned into building elements and how pineapple leaves can be used to make sanitary products for women. The middle group of startup pitches was devoted to innovative recycling techniques - from plastics to batteries. Finally, nine startups presented their platform solutions for the Circular Economy. These pitches created the perfect basis for further discussions at their booths in the glass hall. This was confirmed by the partners from the business community: "Circular Valley® enables startups from all over the world in an exemplary way to connect their concept for a sustainable economy, i.e. climate protection, resource conservation and social development, and to lead them to success," said Helmut Schmitz, Head of Communications at Der Grüne Punkt. Dr. Thomas Rodemann, member of the Executive Board of Vorwerk SE & Co. KG, said:
The topic of the circular economy is becoming increasingly important - all the more so if we as a society want to achieve our sustainability goals. As a member of the Board of Trustees, I'm very excited about the creativity of the startups that keep finding new solutions.

Dr. Thomas Rodemann,
Mitglied des Vorstands der Vorwerk SE & Co. KG

DemoDay guests from other sectors were also noticeably impressed: "Circular Valley® is an important building block and impetus for a better world tomorrow," said former world-class athlete Jürgen Hingsen, who holds the German record in the decathlon since 1984. He encouraged the startups that they, too, can master the multitude of disciplines associated with their business. The aftermovie of the DemoDay can be found here.
SEPTEMBER 9th, 2022

„We need to think and act in terms of closed loops..."
Minister Mona Neubaur is the new patron of Circular Valley®
The new Minister of Economics and Deputy Minister President of North Rhine-Westphalia visited the Circular Economy Accelerator. Mona Neubaur spent a lot of time with the startups from five different continents. Moreover, she then provided the people behind the Silicon Valley of the circular economy great news: she will be the patron of this special initiative in the extended Rhine-Ruhr region.

Portrait-Foto: Land NRW/Ralph Sondermann
The new patron thanked the young entrepreneurs for their courage and creativity. She met with them to learn how to promote the circular economy and how the state government can improve its support. "What can we do for you?" the minister asked founders after presenting their projects to her.

Commenting on her visit, Mona Neubaur then said, "We need to think and act in terms of closed loops as much as possible in order to secure the economic and social benefits of resources in the long term, to remain fit for the future and at the same time to protect the foundations of our planet. The efficient use of raw materials and energy helps protect the climate, stabilizes economic cycles and thus also secures our prosperity. The COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine war have shown that international supply chains have fragile structures. North Rhine-Westphalia has enormous innovative strength - especially in the area of circular value creation. We must make use of these strengths our location provides!
I am pleased that many entrepreneurs in North Rhine-Westphalia have already set out on this path, integrating the basic idea of the Circular Economy into their core business and thus achieving a sustainable success in the market.

Mona Neubaur,
Minister for Economic Affairs, Industry, Climate Protection and Energy of North Rhine-Westphalia

The minister thus emphasized that the circular economy plays an important role for the new state government in North Rhine-Westphalia. The coalition agreement between the CDU and Bündnis 90/Die Grünen states: "The transformation to a comprehensive circular economy is crucial for achieving climate targets. At the same time, it enables enormous opportunities for sustainable economic development, job effects and effective resource protection. Initiatives such as "Circular Valley" or "Greentech.Ruhr" and the leading research landscape in the Ruhr region in particular already have radiance far beyond North Rhine-Westphalia."

Correspondingly, Circular Valley® was among the new minister's first stops on her summer trip. "For us, being mentioned by name in the coalition agreement and Mona Neubaur's visit are a great confirmation of the work we started here a year ago," said initiator Dr. Carsten Gerhardt. Wuppertal's mayor Prof. Dr. Uwe Schneidewind confirmed the importance. He said, referring to the internationality of the startups:
The world is here to solve tomorrow's problems

Prof. Dr. Uwe Schneidewind,
Mayor of Wuppertal

"We need the innovative power of startups from all over the world..."
High-ranking guest from Berlin: Minister Svenja Schulze visits Circular Valley®
The Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Svenja Schulze, held talks at Circular Valley® revolving around action in development cooperation. In the exchange with the international startups from the Circular Economy Accelerator, the focus was on concepts that enable circular economy also in countries of the global south.

The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) sees the circular economy as an important lever for a socially just transformation with new and fair jobs as well as for achieving environmental protection and development goals. Together with the United Nations, Germany is striving for environmentally management of all waste within the framework of the 2030 Agenda. Waste volumes are to be reduced as much as possible. In addition to bilateral projects, the BMZ is therefore also promoting partnerships with the private sector, non-governmental organizations and international initiatives, and has set up its own innovation program for circular economy solutions with the "PREVENT Waste Alliance".

Dr. Carsten Gerhardt and Lord Mayor Uwe Schneidewind welcome Svenja Schulze.
Less than ten percent of used resources worldwide are recycled. At the same time, more and more waste is being generated, harming people, nature and the climate. In development cooperation, we support close cooperation and the exchange of knowledge between actors along the entire value chain.

Svenja Schulze,
Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development

"Our goal is a sustainable circular economy that is in harmony with the environment and the climate - in Germany and worldwide. We need the innovative power of startups from all over the world to develop resource-conserving products that can also be repaired and reused wherever possible. Because that's how we avoid waste. And we need orderly waste management and recycling. The aim of our work is to establish a functioning waste and recycling management system in developing and emerging countries that provides better working and living conditions for people along the value chain."

„North Rhine-Westphalia offers the best prerequisites..."
Minister of the Environment Oliver Krischer joined the foundation's board of trustees
The 53-year-old from Zülpich is part of Hendrik Wüst's cabinet since the end of June and now also a member of the Circular Valley® Foundation Board of Trustees. Here he explains why the circular economy is particularly important to him:

"North Rhine-Westphalia offers the best prerequisites for transforming linear economic structures into circular systems. With its diverse economic structure and high research density, a comprehensive basis has been created. However, in order to utilize this potential, pioneers such as Circular Valley® are needed.

Here, networking is not the only priority. With its pioneering work, it supports startups whose goal is to conserve resources through targeted circular leadership and to develop environmental technologies."

Foto: Land NRW/Ralph Sondermann

Oliver Krischer
Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Transport of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia

Circular transformation in practice
Excursions along the supply chain
produces textile and plastic components for footwear and leather goods, which are supplied to the automotive industry and construction sectorDie Startups der dritten Kohorte haben in den drei Monaten des Circular-Economy-Accelerator-Programms zahlreiche Unternehmen in der erweiterten Rhein-Ruhr-Region besucht. Sie haben exklusive und tiefe Einblicke in die Produktion gewonnen, viel über die zirkuläre Transformation in der Praxis gelernt – und im übertragenen Sinne eine Exkursion entlang der Wertstoffkette gemacht.

The beginning, i.e. the topic of raw materials, was the focus at the Oetelshofen lime works. The company quarries limestone and manufactures high-quality lime products. Further, the startups learned how various raw materials are processed and supplied to industrial companies: Gebrüder Jaeger produces textile and plastic components for footwear and leather goods, which are supplied to the automotive industry and construction sector.

Huehoco finishes metal strips for more than 30 industries worldwide. And Coroplast 's three business units are "Tape" (adhesive tapes), "Coroflex" (cables and wires) and "WeWire" (cable harnesses).

The other points along a supply chain were also part of the program: Knipex produces 70,000 pliers a day for end customers and also impressed the participants of the excursion with its project to increase biodiversity on the company premises. Hagedorn gave the visitors in Gütersloh new perspectives on concrete and the possibilities of reusing it. The Metabolon project , in turn, presented its path from being a landfill to an innovation site for material conversion, environmental technology and renaturation. And the visit to Carboliq was exciting in two ways, because the company itself was part of the third batch - and was able to show the colleagues how far its recycling process, in which new polymers are created, has come.

Around 50 discussion partners as guests
Our speakers of cohort 3
In the Circular Economy Accelerator, startups work with top-class coaches and mentors and meet representatives from business, science and politics. During the summer, we hosted around 50 speakers.
Stefan Alker
Torsten Becker
Markus v. Blomberg
Mello GmbH
Ralf Budde
TiC, Theater in Cronenberg
Jens Busse
Linda Diercke
Effizienz-Agentur NRW
Nina Fechler
Marcel Hafke
Sebastian Hanny-Busch
Nico Henkels
Media Nova
Silke Beaucamp
Beaucamp Unternehmensberatung
Janpeter Beckmann
Andreas Bracht
NRW.Global Business
Konrad Buck
Ulrike Daniels
Fraunhofer KI.NRW
Andrea Dohle
Alexander Goldberg
Goldberg Ullrich Rechtsanwälte
Dr. Henrik Hahn
Martin Hebler
Prof. Peter Hennicke
ehem. Präsident Wuppertal-Institut
Götz Hilber
GLS Bank
Stefan Hunke
Julia Isken
TCL Communication
Andreas Kerbel
Fraunhofer KI.NRW
Gürdal Kilic
StarterCenter BUW
Pascal Kremp
Pinetco GmbH & Co KG
Cornelius Laaser
Umweltministerium NRW
Wolfram Lumpe
Manfred Renner
Fraunhofer UMSICHT
André Rolfes
Henning Höne
Till Iseke
Kalkwerke Oetelshofen
Jochen Jehmlich
Markus Kerkhoff
Poppe + Potthoff GmbH
Laura Kohler
Ralf Kunkel
Body Language
Thomas Lämmer-Gamp
Bergische Gesellschaft BSW
Marc-Antoine Linstädter
Florian Roche
Roche, von Westernhagen & Ehresmann
Bas Roelofs
Till Rösnick
WEPA Ventures
Uwe Schneidewind
Oberbürgermeister, Wuppertal
Jochen Stiebel
Neue Effizienz
Elmar Thyen
Thomas Wagner
Henning Wilts
Peter Schmetz
Vorwerk Ventures
Matthias Schulz
Universität zu Köln
Eric Swehla
Wirtschaftsförderung Wuppertal
Lisa Venhues
Johannes Weimer
Founders Foundation
Thomas Wagner, Jochen Stiebel, Silke Beaucamp, Markus Kerkhoff
Thomas Wagner, Jochen Stiebel, Silke Beaucamp, Markus Kerkhoff
Jochen Jehmlich
Jochen Jehmlich
Cornelius Laaser
Cornelius Laaser
Nina Fechler
Nina Fechler
Manfred Renner
Manfred Renner
Wolfram Lumpe
Wolfram Lumpe
Henning Wilts
Henning Wilts
Markus v. Blomberg
Markus v. Blomberg
Prof. Peter Hennicke
Prof. Peter Hennicke
Henning Höne, Marcel Hafke
Henning Höne, Marcel Hafke
Peter Schmetz
Peter Schmetz
Linda Diercke
Linda Diercke
Uwe Schneidewind
Uwe Schneidewind

Much more than just the Accelerator programme
A topic for young and old
It is a well-known fact that emissions and scarcity of raw materials affect all of humanity. However, the fact that achieving a circular economy is a necessary and at the same time viable way to alleviate both problems has not yet spread everywhere. That is why public relations is one of the core tasks of the Circular Valley® Foundation.

"Circular Valley® is much more than just the accelerator program. We want to take people in our metropolitan region with us and get them excited about the topic so that they not only notice that something great is being created here, but they also feel part of it," explains Jan Turek of Circular Valley®, who co-initiated the first cooperation with the Wuppertal Media Project.

The media project is an institution that has been enabling young people to make their own films for 30 years now. Recently, students who are involved in student companies for sustainability at their schools (Realschule Leimbacher Straße, Gymnasium Bayreuther Straße and Wilhelm Dörpfeld Gymnasium) had the opportunity to visit startups from the Circular Economy Accelerator program - and film them.

The result is three ten-minute films in which the young people first explain their student company and then a Circular Valley® startup, and finally talk to its team. The films, which were made with the kind support of the startups Transfairbag, (1), Bioweg (2) and Carboliq (3), can be seen here:

Important event
Hotspot in Bottrop
The Ruhr region hosted an event for the circular economy in September. Over three and a half days, the various aspects of the topic were discussed at the Circular Economy Hotspot in Bottrop: with visits to pioneers from the Circular Valley® region, discussions and workshops on the state of transformation (including with Circular Valley initiator Carsten Gerhardt) and a special on German-Dutch cooperation in chemical recycling.

Minister Robert Habeck appoints circular startup to SME advisory board

Lucas Fuhrmann
Lucas Fuhrmann, co-founder and CEO of the Circular Valley® startup Revoltech, which is developing the vegan leather alternative LOVR, wasn't sure if the news was real: He received the information that Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck had appointed him to his SME advisory board. A little later, Fuhrmann received the official letter from the ministry and could be sure. At the beginning of October, he will now travel from Darmstadt to Berlin to attend a meeting of the advisory board for the first time. There, he wants to report from the startup's perspective and focus on three key topics: the transformation to a circular economy, better links between business and science, and the simplification and digitization of bureaucracy - especially for founders.

„Innovation Summit" in Bad Homburg
Exchange with Deutsche Leasing

Foto: Deutsche Leasing AG
The board of Deutsche Leasing AG (manufacturer-independent leasing company whose shareholders are around 350 savings banks) showed great interest in Circular Valley® at its "Innovation Summit" in Bad Homburg.

Our Managing Director Andreas Mucke was able to present the initiative and then discussed the circular economy with his hosts over 90 minutes. The Executive Board took away important food for thought and will focus more strongly on the topic of the circular economy.

Das Netzwerk rund um die Circular-Valley-Stiftung wächst kontinuierlich weiter
New partners
The network around the Circular Valley Foundation continues to grow. The initiative's latest partners are Komatsu and Evonik. The Japanese Komatsu Group has its German headquarters in Düsseldorf and, as the world's second-largest construction machinery manufacturer, has a wide-ranging interest in advances in the circular economy. Evonik, the Essen-based chemical specialist, is also looking forward to the impulses from Circular Valley® with regards to transformation.

Gordon Research Conference on Green Chemistry
Experts inspire courage
The Gordon Research Conference on Green Chemistry is a high-profile global scientific meeting, this year near Barcelona. One of our partners, the Max Planck Institute, organizes this conference and was pleased to welcome guests from Circular Valley®. Prateek Mahalwar from Bioweg and Peter Muth from Green Ocean attended in Castelldefels and were noticeably enthusiastic afterwards: "As a startup, you are constantly questioning whether we are good enough. This conference gave us strong confidence in our science as we face similar technical challenges that other cutting-edge labs face," Prateek Mahalwar wrote on Linkedin. Peter Muth reported on the joint panel discussion with the "fathers" of green chemistry such as Paul T. Anastas (Yale) and Walter Leitner (Max Planck Institute) on the implementation of groundbreaking developments from science into entrepreneurial business models.

The intensive discussions with enormous practical relvance lasted into the night. "This was next generation science, building the circular universe with words and deeds," he said.

Prateek Mahalwar, Bioweg
Foto: Peter Muth

Gaskessel: A look into history and the future
Anyone who comes to the viewing platform of the Wuppertal Gaskessel (Mohrenstraße 3) will find more than just a great view on the Rhine-Ruhr region. On top of the landmark, visitors can look into the past, as well as into the future.

Until next year, Circular Valley® will be showing an exhibition there that illustrates the importance of the region for the history of industrialization. For instance, the industrial revolution on the European mainland began just where the Gaskessel is located. The fact that the next revolution in our economic system could also take place in this environment is presented by other exhibtion panels, which present Circular Valley® and its goals for the global circular economy.

Thomas Müller-Kirschbaum, Chief Scientist of the Circular Valley Foundation
Important impulses from the chief scientist
Thomas Müller-Kirschbaum, Chief Scientist of the Circular Valley® Foundation, has created new awareness and enthusiasm for the ideas of the circular economy in several places in recent weeks. "It only takes 2ct to a closed loop" was the title of a scenario he presented in Cologne. The Röchling Foundation and WiderSense had invited selected experts to the first face-to-face event of their „PolyProblem" format since 2019. The positive result of the thought experiment:
An additional 2ct in cost for a 100-gram plastic bottle is enough to keep plastic in the cycle permanently
If all stakeholders along the value chain work together and legislators act simultaneously
Earlier, at the 30th anniversary of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research (IAP), Müller-Kirschbaum had explained that "The future is polymer" agruging that a climate-neutral circular economy will not be possible without suitable plastics and their correct use.

The presentation "It only takes 2ct to a closed loop" is available for download here.

Openness and confidentiality
In good hands at the Circular Valley Partner Talk

Openness and confidentiality do not have to be contradictory. This was proven once again at the second Circular Valley® Partner Talk. The representatives from various industries clearly felt they were in good hands. They discussed both constructively and controversial about the challenges of the Circular Economy - and for much longer than initially anticipated. Without anyone noticing, it had already become half past nine. "My best appointment in months," said one of the participants afterwards.

"Giga-Impact" im Mittelpunkt
New round of the Accelerator
The new batch of the Circular Economy Accelerator program will focus on "Giga-Impact." Giga-Impact is about material flows that are not measured in kilograms or individual tons, but which pose a problem for our planet on a scale of billions of tons (gigatons). Among others, these can be CO2, construction waste and wastewater, but also substances that enter the environment uncontrolled in small quantities and have giga impacts there, such as microplastics.

Successful applicants will form the fourth batch of the Circular Economy Accelerator this winter. So far, more than 60 startups from around the world have been to the Rhine-Ruhr region to participate in the program. Throughout the program, they further developed their business models and their communication with top-class coaches and speakers and met numerous representatives from industry, science and politics who have become sponsors, partners and investors.
Startups that develop solutions for these huge problems,

can still apply until 11:59 p.m. on October 7th 2022,

for the Accelerator Program of Circular Valley® –
by applying here.
Calendar 2022
October 4th - 5th
The community platform with more than 20 years of experience brings together companies and investors for a forum on bioeconomy. Circular Valley® is co-organizer of the forum in the Historische Stadthalle Wuppertal.
October 19th - 20th
Drees & Sommer
Circular Valley® cooperates with the internationally active consulting firm for the construction and real estate sector for this event. The DREES & SOMMER dialog tour will stop in Wuppertal to discuss circular solutions for products, buildings, cities and locations.
November 9th - 10th
At Messe Köln, companies from diverse industries can learn more about new sustainable materials and techniques as well as processes to reduce environmentally harmful production - including from Circular Valley®, one of the official partners of the Greener Manufacturing Show.
November 18th
The largest conference on the Circular Economy

600 decision-makers from politics, business, science and civil society will meet on November 18th at the Circular Valley® Forum in the wider Rhine-Ruhr region. They will be addressing one of the most important questions of our time:

How do we manage the transformation from a linear to a circular economy? "We will have a lot of exciting answers to this question," promises Dr. Carsten Gerhardt, founder of the Circular Valley® Foundation.

Participants on November 18th will come from all relevant sectors. CEOs and managing directors from large companies will be there, as will high-ranking representatives of the state government of North Rhine-Westphalia, federal ministries, the European Commission, as well as representatives of important scientific institutions and founders of circular startups from all over the world.

They will all find the form of exchange that suits them best at the Circular Valley® Forum: they can discuss in the large plenary session, learn more about key topics of the circular economy in panels (including regulatory developments, customer acceptance and communication) or delve deeper into the points that are important to them at the dinner.
More about the forum is available hier.

More about the forum is available here.