Circular Economy <3 Corporate Venturing

World Circular Economy Forum by Sitra last week brought together 1500 decision makers to find ways of utilising potential in circular economy, benefits estimated at €600bn for European countries alone. There is a lot to gain for all, but some new tools are needed to create new products and services faster.

The era of linear economy with its take-make-dispose consumption approach is coming to an end. Upcoming problems with the textile industry using extreme amounts of water, the food industry trying to meet the demands of the growing population and at the same time the land we use is suffering from growth reduction by over 50%. The fact is we are already late and we need to new ways to use the resources before it’s too late. 

The Finnish government & active world leaders commit to change

The Finnish government aims that our country will be a pioneer in the circular economy and has dedicated to become a forerunner in the bioeconomy and circular economy by 2025. As a part of the strategy Sitra organized the first World Circular Economy Forum in June 2017 with over 1500 decisionmakers from 105 countries. Some active world leaders, like Unilever and DHL, are already making a difference and following the circular example by committing to change. DHL has committed to reducing carbon emissions by -100% by 2050.

It has been estimated that switching to a circular economy from the current linear model could bring net savings of €600bn to European companies, in Finland the solution could provide €2-3bn in added value annually. Big numbers. Numbers bring investors - it is estimated that 30% of all funds at the moment are responsibly invested. 

What can Corporate venturing give to the circular economy?

To get all this value and make the switch to circular economy the market clearly needs new products and services. While perceiving trends and business ideas before anyone else, large corporations have challenges to bring new innovations to the market. Creating new ventures with sustainable value would give corporates competitive edge and help them change to circular economy. The challenge is in connecting the right companions with the matching skills and knowhow that is catering to the company's needs.

This is where corporate venturing can help. Corporations can build systems and structures to finding, matching and cultivating the right startups to quickly bring new innovations to the market. One very interesting example is the Unilever Foundry where they invite startups to collaborate and explore business ideas with Unilever and their 400+ brands. Unilever has a target to make 100% of packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025 and the Unilever foundry is without a doubt working hard towards this goal. 

Last but not least

Circular economy, is so much more than recycling. It is about investing and funding responsibly, creating brand value and attractiveness, and maybe most importantly using circular designing methods while creating new solutions and products for a cleaner economy and thus the environment. The world is changing and the time seems to be right for the transition to circular economy, especially now that the advantages seem so clear. But to get there, we need new tools.