The Circulator 1.0 pre-incubator kicked off on the 11th of October with an inspirational kick-off event at the Hakkila Art Village. Since then, participants have been working hard on developing their ambitious, and at times visionary, early-stage circular economy ideas into viable business solutions.
The programme has been a place for the Helsinki Incubators team to test new ideas and methods. For instance, participants were given the opportunity to begin forming teams and properly developing their ideas only once they had embarked on the programme, with the community aspect of the programme being at its forefront. To support this community focus, the Circulator 1.0 team utilised mesensei, a tool which facilitated the creation of a burgeoning circular economy community around the University of Helsinki. The programme also tested out having closer relations with the broader ecosystem, bringing in the MiXi center on as a collaborator to ensure deeper contacts with the circular economy field and providing participants with direct connections with a number of relevant experts. Lastly, the programme featured nearly weekly open events allowing programme participants and community members to co-mingle and learn together!
In this spirit of trying new things, the programme's final event will also follow a new structure as the traditional pitching event approach will be ditched in favour of an exhibition style final. Participants will get to present the solutions they've been working hard on to attendees more directly, allowing for a more communal experience and the creation of more direct links between teams and interested attendees.
The final event will be hosted at the Helsinki Think Company's Viikki space from 4-6 P.M. on Decemeber 8th. Those interested in attending may do so without registration. The Circulator 1.0 team hopes to see you there!
Before attending the final event on December 8th, you may want to get to know the teams which will be presenting! You’ll find a summary of all the participating teams below. For more information on the teams, you can also check the programme's 2022 participant page.
1. Style Uncoded
In a perfect world, people would only buy the amount of clothes that they have the time to use, and the will to take care of. They would invest in more sustainable choices; quality clothes they’d love using year after year, clothes that they’d value so much they’d want to repair them, buying second hand whenever possible & reselling when they no longer use a piece. And for those occasions that they’d need something special? They’d rent. “Style uncoded” wants to offer a slow fashion platform for peer-to-peer swapping & renting of clothes as an alternative to buying clothes. They would save users’ time & money, as well as the environment by offering a “one stop shop” for those consumers interested in buying from sustainable brands and second-hand stores, while also connecting them with services that allow the repair and refurbishing of clothes they already own.
2. Unnamed online second hand platform for kids' sports equipment
Member: Anni Lyytikäinen
Children’s sports equipment is a headache for many parents. Buying new equipment is expensive, and the market for used gear is unreliable. And once the gear has been bought, the child will either outgrow it within a season, or quit the sport after just a few times. This leaves families stuck with equipment they don’t know what to do with. Instead of having the equipment take up space in storage, the team’s solution wants to make sure that the gear quickly finds a home with another family. Their online store would receive the gear, inspect it, and list it for sale using standardised pricing & quality ratings, reducing the need for new equipment. The sustainable, hassle-free system will give peace of mind for parents buying and convenience to those selling, guaranteeing that everyone gets a fair deal – including the environment.
3. Unnamed solution for sustainable circular hyperlocal food production
Recent geopolitical events have taught us that our global food supply chain is extremely vulnerable to a litany of shocks and highlighted the need for food security and local production. Yet often we hear that humanity no longer has the possibility to live off local food supplies: to do so would require unsustainable, high-tech solutions. Or be inefficient. Or rely too heavily on fertilisers. The team disagrees, proposing a solution based on the millenary technique of aquaponics, where waste from an aquaculture system is recirculated through a hydroponic setup, and the aquaculture system is fed with insect larvae grown from in waste from the hydroponic system. This circular system mimics nature’s circular approach and could produce sustainable fish and vegetables at a hyperlocal scale.
4. Unnamed platform for data on product life-cycles & impact
Member: Karri Lehtonen
Consumers have little reliable and objective data available on the quality or impact of the products they buy, making responsible shopping very difficult. The team hopes to create a solution which would provide consumers with data on the quality of the products they are buying, such as how many uses a product will last for on average, as well as telling them what the overall impact of creating & using the product will be. This would help consumers better understand the price/use and impact/use ratio of products, allowing them to save money and make more informed purchasing decisions.
Kiklos’ mission is to enable parents to have more time with their loved ones and less impact on the planet. Through a subscription-based rental platform, Kiklos provides parents with easy access to a set of high-quality, essential childcare products that they need for the first 3 years of their children’s lives. Kiklos offers a comprehensive solution for parents from day 1 to day 0. Under one subscription fee, parents can enjoy not only easy access to the products but also the services around the products, e.g. logistics, assembly, maintenance, and take-back. Kiklos aims to empower parents to lead a sustainable lifestyle which increases the well-being of both parents and their children while contributing to a circular future for all.
6. Circular Sound
The loudspeaker industry is still a deeply unsustainable linear economy. Old loudspeakers are thrown away, even though the magnets inside contain high quantities of critical raw materials called rare-earth elements (REE). Magnets are critical for many green technologies, such as EV’s and windmills, yet the EU imports 98% of its magnets from one supplier, and less than 1% of magnets are recycled. The Circular Sound project aims to keep these critical materials in the economy by means of remanufacturing old loudspeakers into new ones, reducing the need for mining for REE’s and the geopolitical risks associated with it to create new magnets, while simultaneously creating new jobs & resilient supply chains. Although the project focuses on just one specific industry, its impact is quick, long-term and low risk.
Member: Saana Siivola
Currently, baby products in the home textiles sector are terribly unsustainable, suffering from a lack of transparency in production, and being designed with a linear, not circular, use model in mind. This leaves parents wanting high-quality baby products produced in a responsible, transparent manner in accordance with circular principles with little to no choices available to them. Muruuu seeks to address this need, offering parents both high quality and sustainability in the same package, making the choice to buy environmentally and socially responsible products easy while avoiding the consideration of unpleasant trade-offs associated with current solutions.
Inefficient natural resource use is one of the biggest challenges facing the world today, with too many products being bought new when perfectly good second-hand options exist. Yet many consumers who would be open to buying second-hand fail to do so due to the difficulty of finding the products they’re looking for quickly and efficiently. Greenfo’s online platform intends to gather all second-hand stores, eco-services, and associated events in one easy to browse place, helping consumers make sustainable decisions in everyday life without wasting time. To motivate its users, Greenfo intends to include a social credit points system where consumers would earn points for each eco-friendly decision they make. By facilitating the increase in second-hand purchases of clothes, technology, and furniture, Greenfo will seeks to be a part of the transition to a circular, environmentally sustainable future where fewer natural resources are needed.
9. Coffee Ground
Member: Miri Jung
When making coffee, only 0.2% of the ground beans are used in the extraction of coffee, with the rest being discarded as waste. Yet these grounds are high in calories, free from impurities, and have a unique flavour, making them a great material for upcycling in a number of ways. Coffee Ground hopes to create a coffee recycling platform where people of all ages can take their dried coffee grounds with them and, for a fee, learn with experts how they could be turned into air fresheners, scrubs, compost, and more. The goal is to create a community around coffee recycling where those taking part connect with each other, share information on new ways of recycling coffee to educate and inspire people of all ages to think about recycling as a fun and joyful activity.
10. Unnamed repair service
Member: Joona Myllärniemi
Repairing items is a cornerstone of the circular economy, yet places to do so are in short supply. Planned to be situated in an upcoming circular mall, the team hopes to create a repair point where most consumer items may be repaired. The repair point would not only be a place to ensure that users can keep using their items instead of buying new ones, but also act as a workspace for students in vocational schools, giving them a place to plug into the circular economy.
11. Unnamed sustainability consultancy
Member: Yue Pan
While sustainability permeating all elements of society at increasing rates is critical to combatting current global environmental and societal crises, much work remains to be done in the field. Applying expertise in the field, the team seeks to create a sustainability consultancy to bring more sustainability education to the public while also advising on policy to ensure that future policies are shaped in a way that maximises their sustainability impact.
12. Unnamed food waste management solution
Member: Samira Nazir
Food waste management systems currently still leave much to be desired in terms of their sustainability. By utilising circular economy know-how, the team hopes to help identify gaps in existing systems and develop ideas and methodologies which enhance the industry’s sustainability by addressing those gaps. By increasing the degree to which the food waste management sector is plugged in to the circular economy, it’s hoped new ways of integrating food waste as raw ingredients for a multitude of applications will be developed.
13. Unnamed online circular gift marketplace
Member: Polina Vishnia
Early-stage pioneering sustainable solutions are often faced with an uphill battle to get sales. At the same time, companies with sustainable values wishing to reward their employees often have difficulties finding gifts that match with those values. The team’s solution is an online marketplace that allows those offering eco-friendly gifts to sell them on a unified platform directly to companies looking for these kinds of products to give to their employees, thus supporting both the pioneering solutions and the companies wishing to abide by their ideals.
14. Unnamed ecological restoration data solution
Member: Bhagyashree Khot
Ecological restoration is a growing field as humanity aims to reverse some of the damage it has done to nature. Yet for those working to research degradation and create programs that work to reverse it, accurate environmental data is hard to come by. Current data is largely GIS and SAR based, with ground-level data being difficult to find, leaving those working in the field with insufficient and scattered data. The team is working to create a platform where ground-level microdata is generated and combined with existing data to provide an easy way to analyse where degradation has occurred and at what level. With this information, projects can be initiated quicker, and be more effective.
15. Unnamed environmental revitalisation solution
Member: Pankaj O. Kela
Global populations are increasingly urban. Yet as they urbanise, people lose a connection to nature and the realities of the fundamental farming and food systems that support their lives and well-being. Few understand that these systems and the communities around them are facing a devitalisation crisis, with the nutritive capacity of soils declining rapidly across major global food baskets. The team is seeking to find ways in which awareness around this growing crisis can be enhanced among urban populations while also making sure that the local experiences and knowledge of those on the ground in these stricken environments play a part in any and all projects that are designed to address this issue.
16. Unnamed food waste cellulose production solution
Member: Sunil Shafqat
Although the amount of food waste generated by societies should be minimised, eliminating it completely is a difficult task. Therefore, we are faced with the interesting question of what can be done with the waste. While using the waste as compost is one way, the team proposes using the waste as feedstock for microbial cellulose production using surface culture methods. The generated material can be used in a variety of applications, including medical and cosmetic solutions.
17. Unnamed waste management data management solution
Member: Jose Valdivia
The waste management sector currently lacks appropriate data management and tracking systems for materials and products at the end-of-life stage. Businesses in the sector do not track and communicate their inventories effectively, leading to the full potential of materials reuse pipeline remaining unmet. By developing a robust service-based platform with an emphasis on these B2B chains, the team is seeking to foster the full use of the resource reuse pipeline while also allowing companies utilising their platform to burnish their image by being able to demonstrate the ways in which they take part in the materials reuse pipeline.