‘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.
So, what’s in it for you?! Based on our experience as and with circular entrepreneurs, we developed a program that centers on five 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 right people for the right job
The program consists of the following phases:
In this phase, we open the call for potential Circular Factory participants. We search far and wide for startups that are ready to become a scaleup. Registration for 2023 is allready closed. If you are interested in participating next year you can send an e-mail to email@example.com.
On September 4th 2023 the second edition of Circular Factory has kicked off. On September 21th, 27th and October 5th, 12th and 18th, the selected startups will gather with BlueCity and Tekkoo, and dive into feedstock, customers, plant design, finance and team during the Due Diligence Days. Together with experts we determine your needs in terms of expertise and experience and define a roadmap to build your value proposition and business case for investment. This OKR roadmap is the guideline for the rest of the Circular Factory program. We also match you with experts that can help you with these needs in matchmaking sessions.
In this phase, you’ll receive support related to your roadmap. There will be six expert sessions related to Feedstock, Customer, Plant design, Financial modeling and Team, quarterly personal meetings with BlueCity and Tekkoo related to your OKR roadmap, four site visits to other circular (demo) plants, continuous matchmaking with experts and partner events for networking. All of these are unique opportunities, bringing you closer to the goal of opening your own circular factory.
Startups that want to apply for Circular Factory must meet various requirements: they have make a product from waste or a biomass material, have a viable business plan and seed funding, have completed a successful pilot (and be able to submit the pilot data in our selection interviews) and have a demonstrable interest from the market to produce the product on a commercial scale.
You make a product from waste or biomass
You have a feasible business plan and secured seed funding
You have conducted a successful pilot
You receive real interest from customers to buy the product at commercial scale
For the first edition in 2022, Tekkoo and BlueCity selected six startups. Bakkersgrondstof, Biophilica, BlueBlocks, Fairm, MaGieCreations and Nature’s Principles. These six startups ended their participation of the program in 2023, after working towards their ultimate goal: building their own circular factory.
The past year, the startups started working on all the themes with which they remove the greatest risk for financiers: recording contracts from suppliers (feedstock) and customers, a professional plant design with an underlying financial model and finding a location and the right safety measures. The companies are now investor-ready and we desperately need them in the Netherlands to ensure that we use our raw materials in a smarter way. The demo factories to be built cover a wide range of products; from lactic acid to seaweed materials and ingredients based on brewer’s grains and residual bread.
That is the amount the startups Bakkersgrondstof, Biophilica, BlueBlocks, Fairm, Magie Creations and Nature’s Principles need to make a serious scale step. The young companies are participants in the Circular Factory programme, set up by Tekkoo, BlueCity and partners such as Invest NL and Renewi. The program supports startups that want to build a factory for their circular or biobased products. In this way, Circular Factory wants to contribute to the realization of twenty circular factories in the coming years.Read more
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