News and Blog

12 February, 2015

EcoMachines Spotlight: Resource Recovery and the Circular Economy

Some of the most exciting startups that I have come across over the last two years as part of the EcoMachines team have been engaged in the drive towards a Circular Economy based on sustainable resource recovery. However, I have noticed that whilst large corporations and governments are actively accelerating the evolution of the Circular Economy, the investment community is lagging behind. In order to succeed and grow quickly, technology startups need bothinvestment and assistance in building an effective ecosystem. There are few investors that provide this crucial combination of support. We want to change that.


I am therefore delighted to announce that EcoMachines Incubator is launching a new initiative that will place a spotlight on investment opportunities in the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy sector. As part of this drive, we will connect with Europe’s leading Circular Economy entrepreneurs, SMEs and industry players in the resource recovery and circular economy space. In this post I will be providing more information on this new initiative and how you or your company can get involved.


What is the Circular Economy?


The Circular Economy is a model of production and consumption which moves away from the linear approach of ‘take, make, dispose’ towards a closed loop within which resources are captured, recycled and reused. If well designed, the model largely eliminates waste as an ‘end state’. Instead, goods or production by-products which would usually be thrown away are broken down and regenerated into new products, ‘upcycled’ into more valuable uses, or used as inputs into the production processes of other industries. As well as reducing society’s dependency on finite resources, the model also entails potentially massive efficiencies within the processes of production, leading to new sources of job creation and more sustainable energy use.




Why are we excited about Resource Recovery and the Circular Economy?


The business case for a shift to a Circular Economy is well established: a 2012 report by McKinsey and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation argued that a subset of the EU manufacturing sector could realise net materials cost savings worth up to $630 billion p.a. towards 2025 through such a change. These savings could stimulate economic activity in the areas of product development, remanufacturing and refurbishment. This change can be viewed as a threat to traditional industries, but, as I argued in recent articles for the CIWM Journal and Waste Planning, it also provides an opportunity for businesses to reposition themselves at the centre of the production-consumption chain. There is huge potential for hardware innovation to be a driving force behind this transition, with a 2012 Chatham House Briefing Paper stressing how fundamental technological innovation will be to the success of the Circular Economy. Yet I believe that this sector has been under-serviced by the investment community to date. I therefore see EcoMachines’ new initiative as an opportunity to champion new technologies, create synergies and build partnerships in this space.



What are we doing?


As part of this initiative, we will work with early-stage hardware companies in Europe that have developed, or are in the process of developing, cutting edge technologies and disruptive solutions for this sector. EcoMachines will support entrepreneurs in developing growth strategies, connect with industry leaders, and explore investment opportunities with the most promising of these early-stage ventures.


We are aiming to facilitate the development of an ecosystem of like-minded entrepreneurs, investors and industry experts to promote innovation within the Circular Economy. Therefore, as well as hosting resource recovery themed events, EcoMachines will be surveying industry experts and will produce a white paper exploring emerging investment opportunities as a result of technological innovation in the sector. In the coming months you will find regular articles and updates on our blog and we will also be distributing a Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Newsletter, which you can sign up for here. We have already set this plan in motion, and I will be running a workshop at the leading Circular Economy conference Resource 2015 on Thursday 5 March. This workshop will examine the various funding options available for early stage companies in the circular economy space. You can find out more and sign up to attend here.



How can you get involved?


I am always on the lookout for companies and individuals who are interested in partnering with EcoMachines. If you want to be involved in this new initiative as an industry expert or interested corporate please get in touch and we may ask you to participate in our survey or attend an event. Similarly, if you know of a relevant startup that could benefit from our support, please refer them to us. In order to keep up to date with the progress of the campaign, you can also subscribe to our Circular Economy mailing list and check our blog for regular updates. Finally, everyone is welcome to get involved on Twitter by tweeting @EcoMachinesUK and @ILIAN_P_ILIEV using the hashtag #EcoMachinesSpotlight.