Alim Al Rajii shares how his startup Borac Energia turns old batteries from Europe into new energy cells for TukTuks in Bangladesh. The founders of Carboliq from Remscheid, Germany, explain that thanks to their processes, plastic can finally be run in circle, meaning that plastic is once again becoming a high-quality raw material. And Shriti Pandey, engineer and head of Strawcture from India, shows that her company develops components made from straw. The benefit of this is that the straw no longer needs to be burned as is usually done, significantly reducing CO2 emissions in her country.
More than 30 companies such as the three mentioned above have been guests in Circular Valley® over the past months. They have all brought their ideas targeted at transforming our current linear economy into a circular one. In the Circular Economy Accelerator program, the young entrepreneurs have further developed their business models with professional help and met potential partners from science and established companies. The presentation of their concepts to the guests of the DemoDay was the grand finale of the time in the wider Rhine-Ruhr region on Friday (September 9th).
Since its founding a year and a half ago, Circular Valley® has developed into a globally relevant location for the circular economy. This is made clear, among other things, by the number of top- class applications. Originally, 20 startups were to be selected for the third round of the funding program, which has now been completed. However, because so many great ideas applied, the jury decided to invite 36 young companies from five continents. The participants in the program met, among others, Svenja Schulze, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, and Mona Neubaur, Deputy Minister President of North Rhine-Westphalia, Minister of Economics - and since her visit, patron of Circular Valley®.
The fact that the Circular Valley® team and startups from around the world are working on a very important topic is also shown by the great interest and numerous partnerships from established industry. "Circular Valley enables startups from all over the world in an exemplary way to network their concept for a sustainable way of doing business, i.e. climate protection, resource conservation and social development, and to lead them to success," said Helmut Schmitz, Head of Communications at Grüner Punkt, at the DemoDay. Dr. Thomas Rodemann, board member of Vorwerk SE & Co. KG, confirms this: "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 am very enthusiastic about the creativity of the start-ups, who are always finding new solutions". 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 decathlete Jürgen Hingsen.
DemoDays are both finale and an important stage. In the first two rounds of the accelerator program, the beginnings of later collaborations between startups and established companies developed on these occasions, in the form of investments or joint development. For example, the major pliers manufacturer Knipex now cooperates with the startup Plastic Fischer, and the internationally active metal strip finisher Huehoco has become a partner of Carbonauten.
A reunion with startups from the first three rounds of the accelerator program is planned for November 18th. That's when the next big event is scheduled in the wider Rhine-Ruhr region: the Circular Valley® Forum. 600 decision-makers from politics, business, science and civil society will spend a day discussing challenges and solutions and deepening their exchange.
A few weeks later, the next hopefuls of the circular economy will start their funding program. The application phase for the fourth cohort of the Circular Economy Accelerator is still open until October 7th. Interested startups whose idea is expected to have an impact in the range of giga tons can apply here.