In the last decade, Europe has grappled with the environmental repercussions of exporting millions of tons of waste to non-EU countries, often neglecting proper waste treatment. Recognizing the urgency of transitioning to a circular economy, the EU introduced the Circular Economy Action Plan (2020) to address the environmental and economic challenges posed by the linear model. Aligned with the above, the RE-START project is focusing on Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) students, recent graduates, and potential entrepreneurs and aims to instill an environmentally-friendly approach, fostering essential skills and competencies necessary for embracing circular economy principles.
At its core, RE – START seeks to empower participants to either develop a circular startup or transform existing business ideas into circular models. The project defines circular startups as those aligned with Circular Economy (CE) strategies, emphasizing reduction, reuse, recycling, recovery, and regeneration. By offering a comprehensive training program rooted in circular economy principles, the project equips participants with an entrepreneurial mindset and transversal skills. Real-life examples from successful circular entrepreneurs serve as inspiration, guiding participants from conceptualization to the creation of a circular business plan.
Through RE-START, participating students gained access to valuable resources, mentorship, and incubators, fostering a supportive environment for their entrepreneurial endeavors. The project not only encouraged the development of new ventures but also provided insights into commercializing innovative ideas, including launching university spin-offs.
More precisely the RE-START focuses on the following key activities:
Circular Business Plan Toolkit: A comprehensive toolkit is provided, incorporating desk research on business ideas and circular economy principles. This toolkit serves as a guide, aiding students in commercializing their business ideas.
E-training Programme: The project has developed an e-training program with seven short modules, leveraging Open Educational Resources. This program is hosted on a MOOC platform developed by DANMAR, featuring success stories from entrepreneurs utilizing circular business models.
Guidebook for Trainers and Academics :A practical guidebook, translated into Greek, Spanish, and Polish, will provide instructions for trainers and academics on delivering remote learning using the developed MOOC and Circular Business Plan toolkit.
Industry Corporations: Teams presented and refined their business plans, culminating in a Business Plan Competition. The top three plans received rewards, including mentoring, coaching, and grant prizes.
As the RE-START project neared its conclusion, it left a lasting impact on the journey toward a circular economy. By nurturing a new generation of entrepreneurs with a keen focus on sustainability, the initiative contributes to the broader goals of the EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan, setting the stage for a more environmentally conscious and economically viable future.