‘As entrepreneurs in the circular economy, it is our observation that too few circular startups make it to scaleups.’ Sabine Biesheuvel (co-founder BlueCity) and Lindy Hensen (co-founder PeelPioneers & Tekkoo)
The Netherlands aim to have a circular economy by 2050: a waste-free economy that runs – as much as possible – on sustainable and renewable raw materials, in which products and raw materials are reused. This requires scaling the circular ideas we already have and building a new processing industry.
We know from experience that scaling a circular startup is complicated, especially in the phase from prototype at lab-scale towards real production in a demo plant. Circular Factory is the supporting start-to-scale-up program dedicated to this phase, offering specific knowledge and a tailor made ecosystem of partners and experienced entrepreneurs.
In May 2022, Tekkoo and BlueCity opened the call for the participants of Circular Factory. Out of all the applications, six startups were selected: Bakkersgrondstof, Biophilica, BlueBlocks, Fairm, MaGieCreations and Nature’s Principles. These six startups are now in the middle of the program, working towards their ultimate goal: building their own circular factory.
Based on our experience as and with circular entrepreneurs, we developed a program that centers on four topics, each essential to building a circular factory:
get your sourcing, logistics, quality control & legal status
from interest to contract and product certification
preparing for a fit-for-purpose plant
building the storyline & finding the right financing mix
The program consists of the following phases:
In this phase, we opened the call for potential Circular Factory participants. We searched far and wide for startups that were ready to become a scaleup. The applications deadline was on May 31st and on June 9th we invited 10 potential participations to our Selection Day. At the end of this day, 6 of them were chosen to participate in Circular Factory.
In the Due diligence phase, the program really kicked off. On June 15th, 22th, 29th and July 6th and 7th, our startups gathered with BlueCity and Tekkoo, and dove into feedstock, customers, plant design and finance issies. Together with experts they determined their needs in terms of expertise and experience and defined a plan for the rest of the Circular Factory program.
The startups are currently in this phase. Based on the Due Dilligence phase, we formulated the personal program goals of the startups and started building an ecosystem of partners. The goal of this phase is to help the participants get access to the right networks of partners and put them in touch with experts. Central to this is the opportunity to pitch their key-requests towards potential partners that can help them in terms of facilities, expertise and/or launching customers at the Pitch & Plug event on September 20th.
This phase is all about the plant. We are now ready to fully focus on all that is needed to build the future circular factory of our participants. We’ve aligned the current information and critical assumptions about their business and clients and rallied partners. In this phase we focus on what is needed to build the plant. We gather experts, organize peer to peer sharing and build the business plan for scaling your production process and building that plant. The Final Event of Circular Factory will be in May 2023, where startups will show results or announce their investment.
Invest-NL is one of the supporters of the Circular Factory program. In this interview, Maud Hartstra and Guy de Sévaux discuss the importance of scaling up circular startups. “All kinds of developments are underway, which means that many more circular start-ups will be founded in the coming years. Circular Factory is designed for circular startups in the manufacturing industry that want to scale their production by building their first factory; and help them to make this factory circular. In addition to these startups, we also see on a larger scale a new focus of moving production closer to home. More and more manufacturing companies previously located in Asia and Eastern Europe are returning to Western Europe. With the Circular Factory program we want to point out to the entire value chain that making things circular and sustainable requires a different approach and mindset, but also changes in business models and new ways of financing. As far as Invest-NL is concerned, Circular Factory is coming at the right time.”Read more
On Tuesday 20 September, experts flocked to BlueCity to attend the first Pitch & Plug Event, part of the Circular Factory program by BlueCity and Tekkoo. The six participating startups pitched to the gathered crowd. This time not a shiny success story meant to sell their product, but a raw and real story about the key-issues that are currently holding them back from scaling up. Their vulnerability was rewarded with tailor-made advice. During this networking event, connections were made, feedback was given and plans were rewritten.Read more
Fairm is one of the participants of Circular Factory. In this honest and open reflection, Marc Postel who is, together with Joost Vette, cofounder of Fairm describes how they have experienced the first part of the program up to September.Read more
Stichting Ondernemersbelangen Rotterdam supports the Circular Factory program by BlueCity and Tekkoo. Last month, Diederik van Dommelen and Jeannette Baljeu of Stichting Ondernemersbelangen Rotterdam and Sabine Biesheuvel of BlueCity signed the contract. In this interview, Diederik van Dommelen and Jeannette Baljeu talk about why Stichting Ondernemersbelangen considers it important to give circular startups the opportunity to scale-up. “The great thing about Circular Factory is that it focuses on the production side of circular entrepreneurship. That combination of entrepreneurship and production fits in seamlessly with the objectives of Stichting Ondernemersbelangen Rotterdam.”Read more
Six circular startups have been selected for the Circular Factory program of BlueCity and Tekkoo: Bakkersgrondstof, Biophilica, BlueBlocks, Fairm, MaGie Creations and Nature’s Principles. In the coming year, these startups will start preparing for their own circular factory.Read more
Invest-NL is een van de supporters van het Circular Factory programma. In dit interview vertellen Maud Hartstra en Guy de Sévaux over het belang van het opschalen van circulaire startups. “Er zijn allerlei ontwikkelingen gaande waardoor er de komende jaren veel circulaire startups bij komen. Circular Factory is ontwikkeld om bedrijven die materialen maken uit afvalstromen te ondersteunen bij het bouwen van hun eerste fabriek; en hen te helpen deze fabriek vanaf het begin circulair te maken. Naast deze startups zien we op een grotere schaal ook dat er een nieuwe focus komt op productie in eigen landen. Veel productiebedrijven die eerder in Azië en Oost-Europa gevestigd waren, komen terug naar West-Europa. Met het programma willen we de hele keten er op wijzen dat dingen circulair en duurzaam maken een andere aanpak en mind-set vereist, maar ook veranderingen in businessmodellen en financiering. Wat Invest-NL betreft, komt Circular Factory op het juiste moment.”Read more