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Since the beginning of the year, the start-ups selected for the Circular By Design Challenge have been following the coaching programme which will last 12 weeks.

Launched at the end of October at the initiative of the Luxembourg Creative Industries Cluster managed by Luxinnovation, and with the support of the Ministry of the Economy, this programme is aimed at enabling the development of new design solutions and innovative business models that are in line with the principles of the circular economy.

“Aligned with our Government’s priorities around the circular economy, this pilot project enables us to create leverage on numerous levels,” explains Marc Lis, manager of the Creative Industries Cluster. The Circular by Design Challenge provides excellent opportunities to raise awareness about the importance of the circular economy and look for new ideas and business models.

This can notably be achieved through partnerships that provide a platform for implementing new solutions as a way to generate added value and open up business opportunities. “Additionally, it gives the creative industries sector the necessary professional support and attention it deserves, to showcase its ingenuity and apply its problem solving mindset”.

Here is the first feedback on the programme. (Photo: Anna Karina)

Capriole, the sustainable fertilizer from coffee

Capriole develops its activity around sustainable coffee grounds. “Coffee grounds are generally a neglected waste product. However, by recovering such a 100% local resource, it is possible to decrease landfill and offer something that does not currently exist on the market in Luxembourg,” explains Marko Klacar, the project initiator. Coffee grounds are actually available to every coffee consumer and “produced” in abundance by the hospitality sector.

“My objective is to create a feasible project that can realistically be implemented,” points out M. Klacar. The Circular by Design Challenge programme is the perfect way to achieve this. “I am astonished by the quality of the programme, both in terms of participants, speakers, mentors and of web presentations/sessions. I am sure that it will have a long-term positive impact on Luxembourg’s innovation scene and help to promote entrepreneurship in the country. For me, there are many things to remember and I take a wide range of new ways of thinking with me.”

Dottedcars, a car-roaming platform

The Dottedcars project consists of the development of a subscription-based mobility solution, following the principle of car sharing and long-term rental. “We want to support and inspire people to create green and mobile communities. We offer a turnkey subscription-based car roaming service through a digital platform”, explains Norbert Palfalvi, one of the project managers. “As a solid part of the public transport system, we stimulate a positive attitude towards the climate and actively shape the transport environment.”

Participation in the programme provides the company with a high level of support, including detailed workshops and coaching sessions. “The circular economy can improve our lives in many ways, and Luxembourg has enormous potential to maintain its competitiveness and show its commitment to being at the forefront of innovation. It is very important to involve the different stakeholders and to build cooperation in order to achieve our common goals,” says Mr Palfalvi.

He hopes that the “Circular by design Challenge” will enable him to establish partnerships with numerous experts and partners from the public and private sectors. “On the basis of this cooperation, we could realise our vision. We also hope that the financial opportunities for innovative start-ups will be improved.”

Cego, circular workspace systems

Designer Julie Conrad is working on a range of high quality modular furniture and workspace systems, made from reclaimed bio-recycled materials, which can be rented. “The furniture is integrated into a system that keeps the link with the producer during its use,” she explains.

After the first two days of the workshop that really launched her project, Ms Conrad was able to work effectively with her main coach, Norwegian Jan Walter Parr, Chief Creative Officer at Eggs Design in Oslo. “By helping me to dissect the why and how, he supported me with refining my project even further. I am now looking forward to meeting the steering committee and the project partner to get direct feedback and move on to more concrete actions.”

(Photo of the UNPAPER room divider, one of Julie Conrad’s existing furniture pieces. Since CEGO is a project in its development phase, no images can yet be disclosed.)

Kombucha face masks

Gouda Treciokaite came up with the idea of Kombucha face masks: an ecological alternative to conventional face masks. “Our aim is to develop a comfortable, breathable and protective face mask that is also compostable,” she explains. “The idea is to transform organic waste into something useful and then return it to the earth, based on the values of circular design.”

Under the guidance of Ina Budde, the co-founder and CEO of circular.fashion in Berlin, Ms Treciokaite benefits fully from her mentor’s experience. “I have received incredible support from her, as well as from her colleagues, as well as from the people at Luxinnovation and the other mentors. The programme started with two full days of interesting workshops, where we explored the themes of design thinking, circular design and creating a strong narrative.”

Throughout the programme, the various experts have encouraged – and will continue to encourage – start-ups to actively participate in the exchange and share their thoughts. “I am looking forward to develop my product and the business ideas I have in mind. This involves doing a lot of research and contacting experts. I am also looking forward to the journey ahead and the results of this project.”

Our choice, the circular sneaker

Filip Westerlund has taken up sustainable fashion and aims to create the world’s first pairs of circular sneakers, which will be plastic-free and made from 100% natural raw materials.

“Thanks to a circular design and a repair service loop in place, we guarantee that consumers cam use ‘Our choice’ can for many years,” he explains. “We only produce as we receive online orders and we listen to what customers really want before we start the process. This is the most sustainable way of doing things.”

The Circular By Design Challenge enables Mr Westerlund to build on shared experiences in order to drive his initial concept even further. “I particularly enjoyed meeting the experts, as well as joining the workshops during the first intense days. The exchange with the other teams was also very positive. One of the main strengths of the programme is without a doubt having a ‘head coach’. This is very useful to work on our vision and improve its execution.”

 

The intensive work of all these entrepreneurs should lead to the presentation of the final concept on 31 March 2021. On 29 April 2021, an awards ceremony will be held, at which the winners of the first Circular by Design Challenge will be announced.

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