The second edition of Circular Factory has started with six new startups that want to be prepared for building a demo factory. All six startups have real potential to provide circular alternatives on industrial scale and this is desperately needed. The coming nine months the Circular Factory programme guides the six startups through the challenging scaling phase from pilot to demo plant.
The selected participants:
Outlander Materials transforms food waste streams into Unplastic, an alternative for single use plastics. After the program they aim to have the perfect planning in place so when the day comes that the funding is there, they can immediately start with production. Within five years they envision to have a demo plant.
Hollands Wol Collectief
Hollands Wol Collectief processes Dutch wool into semi-finished products. Their goal is to be an example and show how to function in the circular economy. They envision a storage full of washed wool and working with a number of producers to turn it into various applications.
Cano-ela wants to unlock the full potential of canola seeds by processing oil-rich seeds in an innovative way. They aim for a factory that is actually processing around 40 kilotons of seeds per year. They not only want to contribute to a more circular economy, but also to a healthier world.
NoPalm Ingredients produces yeast oils & fats, made from food-industry waste streams that are a substitute for palm oil and other vegetable oils. Their goal: having not one but multiple factories. Some under their own management, some under the management of companies that have their own waste streams and need their own oils.
PAKT Packaging develops new technologies that will make glass packaging reusable in the future. In five years’ time, they hope to have a national collection system for several online retailers and to work on a collection system that also makes it possible to collect glass in stores.
Pectcof converts coffee cherries, a side stream of the coffee chain, into valuable biocompounds which are used for the production of food ingredients. They aim to have scaled up their production to 10,000 kilos of end product and demonstrate that you can scale up with this residual flow. They have already done that with the pilot, but now it’s time for them to take it one step further.
The participants face an intensive period of approximately 9 months. In the first phase, their company is examined on six pillars, after which they start working on a roadmap to the ultimate goal: raising capital to build their demo factory; at least several million. Investors and financiers are actively involved in the program, including through the Co-funding our Future (CoFof) network. Bart van den Heuvel, startup lead: “It is currently particularly challenging to raise money with a mild recession and therefore more cautious behavior from funds and banks. In addition, building a factory is expensive and risky. We will provide participants with all possible support to limit the risks and maximize the chance of a successful fundraiser.”
As entrepreneurs, Tekkoo and BlueCity know from their own experience that the process from start-up to scale-up is difficult. That is why they started Circular Factory in 2022. All participants are guided during the program in the growth phase of their company. A complicated phase, because scaling up to a circular production process is difficult, risky and also capital intensive. The program offers a mix of expertise and experience on five different themes through expert sessions, networking events, site visits and building an ecosystem with the right partners. At the end of the Circular Factory program, the startups have a realistic roadmap, including an expert-validated concept, engineering plan and a financial model. With the Netherlands’ ambition to be 50% circular by 2030, the circular factories resulting from the program are very much needed.
Lindy Hensen from co-founder Tekkoo ‘There is no program in Europe that focuses on this type of startups in this phase, while as a society we desperately need successful companies like this for the various transitions’. Sabine Biesheuvel, co-founder of BlueCity, adds: ‘More and more large and emerging companies are active in the circular economy, but connecting experts, entrepreneurs and corporates in this way is still lacking. The ecosystem is still in its infancy and is crucial to the success of the sector as a whole.”
The initiators of Circular Factory are BlueCity and Tekkoo. BlueCity is a hub for circular activity in Rotterdam, which aims to accelerate the transition from the linear to circular economy through entrepreneurship. Tekkoo is an innovation accelerator and transforms social challenges into business opportunities. Renewi, Stichting Ondernemersbelangen Rotterdam, the municipality of Rotterdam, Invest-NL and Stichting DOEN are affiliated as partners and actively contribute to the content of the program.
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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