Circular economy

Three Italian startups one step closer to circular economy

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Three young startups win the call for tenders launched by the Bracco Foundation and receive funding and tutoring. Here’s what they do.

Circular economy and startups: a winning team, a concrete opportunity to create jobs, and a promising world to invest in. This is the case of the three young winners of the circular economy call for tenders launched by the Bracco Foundation. Partners of the initiative are the Positive Economy Forum San Patrignano, the Speed MI Up incubator, and the Oltre Venture investment fund. The three startups will be granted subsidized funding to cover company founding costs, in addition to one year of incubation at Speed MI Up, the incubator of Bocconi University in collaboration with Milan’s Chamber of Commerce and the Municipality of Milan. The three young companies will also be provided with training, tutoring and consultancy services.

The three companies were chosen after a long selection process, which shows how the Italian circular economy has become a lively entrepreneurial frontier. The call for tenders was closed in mid September with a total number of 51 applications on the Speed MI Up platform. The applicants came from 16 Italian regions, with Lombardy and Lazio being the most represented. The main fields touched by the applications were Digital, Agri-Food and Design. The average age of the participants was 32, and almost 30% of all applicants were women.

Five entrepreneurial ideas made the first cut and were asked to write an elevator pitch, after which the Scientific Committee selected Geodeoponics, Solution, and S.U.P.E.R. market. The members of the Scientific Committee were Jacques Attali, President of Planet Finance Group Movement for a Positive Economy; Letizia Moratti, co-founder of San Patrignano Foundation; Diana Bracco, President of Bracco Foundation; Luciano Balbo, President of Oltre Venture; Roberto Calugi, board member at Speed MI Up; Guido Feller, President of the Accenture Alumni Association; Marco Frey, Professor at Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna and President of Global Compact Italia Foundation; and Stefano Pogutz, Professor at Milan’s Bocconi University.

A snapshot of the winners:

Sector: Agri-Food
The team is developing an innovative solution to join circular economy and urban farming. Geodeoponics creates aquaponic systems (a symbiosis of plants, microorganisms, and fish) integrating them in geodetic structures. Vegetables and fish can be grown/bred in a sustainable way inside structures that allow to use up to 90% less water compared to traditional farming techniques. One aquaponic structure is enough to cover the needs of 10 people. These structures can be permanent (urban farming) or temporary (for events and cultural initiatives).
Impact on the business-environment balance: the aquaponic system makes use of the symbiotic cycles of plants, microorganisms and fish for a sustainable foodstuff production. Moreover, integrating these structures in the urban environment helps increase citizens’ awareness of circular economy themes and solutions.

Sector: Waste Treatment
Solution is a device that allows to produce electricity from the composting of organic matter, thanks to a microbial fuel cell system. The device looks like a compost container and contains a system able to put bacterial activity to good use. Its high versatility allows it to be installed in households too. The device produces both electricity and natural fertilizers, which guarantees a quick return on investment.
Impact on the business-environment balance: the device optimizes domestic waste treatment by generating electricity and natural fertilizers.
Sector: Agri-Food (Sustainable Upper Production on Earthed Roofs) aims at implementing an integrated and sustainable urban system to produce and deliver fruit and vegetables through hydroponic greenhouses installed on the roof of supermarkets. The idea is to design, build, and run a food growing system in close contact with selling facilities. The expected annual production is 100 tons of fruit and vegetables per 1000 sq m, without the use of any pesticide. The project aims at revolutionizing the way food is bought and produced by introducing transparent processes under the very eyes of consumers.
Impact on the business-environment balance: growing vegetables on roofs in greenhouses equipped with hydroponic technology allows several benefits: to use broad surfaces that are currently unused; to use the excess energy produced by supermarkets to power the greenhouses; to minimize the length of the delivery chain and provide better logistic solutions to the supermarket.

For further information, visit the website of the Bracco Foundation

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