“How would nature run your business?”
Kimmo Rönkä is a future living specialist with decades of experience designing and conceptualising novel living environments from blocks to while neighborhoods with communality and circularity in mind. Kimmo's guiding principles are future thinking with empathy for humans, animals, insects, as well as trees and other plants, and a desire to see humanity live in a planetary balance.
When asked, Kimmo's vision for the future is simple: "In the future, there will be only circular economy and garden cities!"
As an advisor for Circulator 2.0, Kimmo has identified the following challenges and opportunities for Circulator participants to consider:
"We only have this decade to keep us below 1.5 degrees. It calls for rapidly scaling solutions like software!"
Terhi Johanna Vapola is an experienced venture capitalist and international business executive, with a proven track record in creating new tech businesses and driving growth through board work. Her experience spans from managing high tech start-ups and growth companies to venture capital and corporate venturing. She was the leader and founder of Helen Ventures, the investment arm of Finnish energy company Helen Ltd. She has also worked as a CEO of leading Finnish early growth phase investment firm and as a managing director of a seed VC firm. Through her Ph.D. dissertation and work experience, she has a profound understanding of how to successfully manage the partnering between startups and multinational corporations in global innovation ecosystems.
She is currently the Founder & Managing Partner of Greencode Ventures, a VC investor with the focus on the early-phase digital-first green transition startups in Europe.
As an advisor for Circulator 2.0, Terhi Johanna has identified the following challenge and opportunity for Circulator participants to consider:
Transitioning to a Circular Economy and the so-called Green Transition overall require digital solutions which can help facilitate this transition. While some exist, the needs of the market remain underserved in this domain.
“In the long run, the tortoise always beats the hare. In other words, consistency is the key to success.”
Heikki Koponen is an industrial engineer working in corporate venturing at Fortum. He is an expert in topics related to the energy industry and circular economy. Having worked both at a startup and as an investor, he is well positioned to understand entrepreneurs' challenges and ambitions.
Heikki is also personally excited about plant-based nutrition, meditation, strength training, and music, and is always happy to discuss these.
As an advisor for Circulator 2.0, Heikki has identified the following challenge and opportunity for Circulator participants to consider:
The installed base of wind turbines has grown rapidly in the last few years. Wind turbines, as all equipment, have a lifespan, at the end of which they must be dismantled. However, the blades from the turbines can be especially difficult to refurbish or recycle. This growing, ticking time-bomb is a challenge that requires solving through the development of both environmentally and economically sustainable large-scale ways to reuse, refurbish, and recycle blades before the great number of turbines installed now reach the end of their lifespans.
"In our digital world, taking care of the world's technology means taking care of the planet."
Carmen Ene was born in Romania and worked in several different European countries before making Finland her home.
She became CEO of 3StepIT in 2015 after over 20 years spent in technology and finance, most recently as Vice President of IBM Enterprise Global Business Services and IBM Global Financing Europe.
In 2019, she oversaw the establishment of a joint venture with BNP Paribas Leasing Solutions, which led to the creation of BNP Paribas 3StepIT.
As an advisor for Circulator 2.0, Carmen has identified the following challenges and opportunities for Circulator participants to consider:
"Solving any problem should start with empathy: why do we behave the way we do?"
Angelina Korsunova is an adjunct professor of sustainable business at the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry of the University of Helsinki. Her current research focuses on circular economy, consumer-company interactions on sustainability topics, and motivating the transition to sustainable behaviour and lifestyles. Angelina believes that changing behaviour starts with empathy and understanding towards the daily struggles of people. Angelina is leading a 3-year project on Circular Citizens, exploring the motivations, struggles and copying strategies of citizens that try to implement circularity in their everyday life. Angelina is the founder of Helsus Youth initiative that brings together sustainability researchers and youth, making sustainability science accessible to school students in different languages.
As an advisor for Circulator 2.0, Angelina has identified the following challenges and opportunities for Circulator participants to consider:
Challenge 1: Many circular behaviours require special knowledge and skills that most of us do not have, or haven't had time to learn. For example, research from different national contexts finds that today's citizens have more modest repair skills compared to previous generations, and do not have enough knowledge on how to cook waste-free and in season. Even if educational videos and instructions can be found online, people typically do not have time to explore them. What kind of educational solutions could help to improve the skills and knowledge of citizens related to circular economy? (And how to upgrade basic education with more content on circularity?)
Challenge 2: Although the focus of the European Waste Framework Directive is on prevention of waste generation, the amount of waste per person has been increasing in the EU. On the level of citizens, circular economy is often perceived through recycling activities, and not enough attention is paid to preventing waste generation. How can we enable citizens to reduce their waste generation in households? What kind of behavioural and cultural changes are needed? What types of business solutions could help?
Jenni Kaipainen is a Doctoral Researcher in Industrial Engineering and Management at the Faculty of Management and Business at Tampere University. Her research focuses on companies' strategic development processes to circular economy and sustainability, through the management of e.g., business and business models, innovations, supply chains, and the encompassing ecosystem. Her research work has been awarded internationally, and published for example in Industrial Marketing Management, Business Strategy and the Environment, and International Journal of Innovation Management. Meanwhile conducting research in national CICAT2025 research project at the Center for Innovation and Technology Research (CITER), Jenni engages actively in various teaching and business development activities.
As an advisor for Circulator 2.0, Jenni has identified the following challenge and opportunity for Circulator participants to consider:
In linear economy, the supply and value chains are rather straightforward, from production to consumption to waste. In contrast, circular economy demands new ways to collaborate with existing partners and establishing new collaborations in order to allow the key principles of CE to realise.
The key issue and trend is to find ways to overcome CE barriers by connecting with others beyond traditional industry boundaries, to allow for the systemic change needed for CE to happen. When initiating CE business, how can you know who to engage with your circular business idea, and what to do with them to accelerate the business potential?
Collaboration with unconventional partners leads to finding new ways to maximise the value and resource retention for CE. Could this lead not only to reconciled environmental and economic benefits, but also for social advantages, from the perspectives of the start-up and its partners?
“We need a world that shares more, one that is made to make less.”
Karri Hiekkanen is a 33 year old father and husband from Helsinki who spends the majority of his time either with his daughter or working on making Rentle the circular commerce platform that the world needs.
At Rentle, Karri is in charge of partnerships. As Rentle is a commerce platform powering circular business models focused on renting and subscriptions, he has a variety of partnerships on his table, ranging from one-off strategic partnerships to tech, agency, affiliate, and distributor partnerships.
As an advisor for Circulator 2.0, Karri has identified the following challenge and opportunity for Circulator participants to consider:
Rentle exists because the world is drowning in stuff. What we need is a world that is made to make less by empowering merchants to expand from unit sales to services. To shift from ownership to access, offering people an alternative to buying everything new when that isn't necessary.
For those teams interested in exploring these kinds of solutions, we'll be offering them the Rentle Advanced plan to try for free for a year, with access to core features like an online store, product and inventory management, customer management, payment processing, order fulfilment, and more.
"Whoever among you sees evil, let him change it with his hand. If he cannot do so, then with his tongue. If he cannot do so, then with his heart, which is the weakest level of faith."
Zahed Shakil is passionate about sustainability, humane approach to business & leadership, EQ & playing the long-game.
As an advisor for Circulator 2.0, Zahed has identified the following challenges and opportunities for Circulator participants to consider:
The EV market is about to enter hyper growth for the next ten years. Yet emerging technologies/industries rarely focus on circular economic principles when it comes to building their own technologies. Currently EV intake is only 2% of the total vehicle sales in EU. Data shows that the next ten years will see hyper growth as car manufacturers, CPO's, Utility providers, and governments focus on attracting consumers to buy EVs, which they've done successfully in countries like Norway and the Netherlands. But in order to make the transition to e-mobility, EV charging infrastructure is the most crucial part of the equation.
However, supply chain issues from the COVID years have led to delivery times for charging technologies increasing from 10-12 weeks to 40-60. This is further exacerbated by the hyper-growth in the industry and immense investment coming from hedge funds which has led to many businesses entering a rat-race to become market leaders in EV infrastructure. As growth-seeking companies with more money attempt to mitigate the supply chain issues by buying in big quantities so as to secure access to chargers in the long term, access to quality products becomes far more limited. Thus, this combination of a shortage in parts and persistent strong demand leads to technologies with relatively lower quality gaining market share, and even premium suppliers are starting to create low quality products as a response. However, supply chain issues are not permanent, and improved technologies are on the way, meaning that most of the current stock with its shorter life-spans, higher repair costs, and ease of replacement with more advanced solutions will soon become obsolete and require some kind of end-of-life processes to avoid an environmental disaster.
The opportunities, then, are in understanding how can businesses make better (and more environmentally friendly) decisions when investing in EV infrastructure, how can we make that infrastructure more sustainable and link up to the Circular Economy?