Guiding companies in the search for a circular business model
The interest in circular entrepreneurship and circular business models has increased significantly recently, thanks to the successful efforts of both international and Flemish organisations and supported by policy agendas.
However, the transition to a circular business model is complex and affects all aspects of business operations. The search for a concrete circular model takes companies into unknown territory, where without a clear compass and roadmap they risk getting stuck in obstacles such as finding a market, financing decisions, technical challenges, uncertainty about economic and environmental benefits ... The expertise to solve these issues is growing, but is spread across a multitude of actors.
The Expedition Circular! project is the search of four companies (ETAP, HaTwee, Out Of Use and More) for a suitable circular business model, guided by four organisations based on their complementary substantive knowledge and experience in process management: VITO, Start it@KBC, Agoria and Sirris.
The starting point was that a clear process approach, mutual exchange of experiences and access to the substantive expertise of the supervisors could accelerate the transition to a circular model for these four companies.
The insights from this project offer a solid basis for creating a more powerful ecosystem for supporting circular entrepreneurs in Flanders.
PartnersStart-it@KBC, Agoria, Sirris, ETAP, HaTwee, Out Of Use, More
Each of the four companies was very much helped by the programme. They indicated that the coaching, the easy access to knowledge and solutions and the exchange of experiences were important factors for the further success of their circular enterprise.
The project gave us broader insights into circular enterprise. For instance, we distinguished different roles that are essential in the landscape of circular business innovation as well as the structural gaps that cause these roles to be difficult to articulate.
The networked cooperation model that was created during this project can certainly be applied to other cases and forms a solid basis to create a more powerful ecosystem for supporting circular entrepreneurs in Flanders.
We want to spread our learning lessons as widely as possible to realise an added value that reaches beyond the four participating companies. Concrete tips & tricks,simple tools and inspiring cases in the area of circular entrepreneurship were therefore collected and made available online.
MOST IMPORTANT LESSONS LEARNED
Easy access to quality coaching is essential. However, business innovation coaches' knowledge of sustainability and circularity is still too limited and needs to be refined. Furthermore, the government could also make the offer more visible and accessible.
For starters and small SMEs, coaching in innovation processes is sometimes difficult financially, especially since multiple expertise is often required. Partnerships between different actors in the market can offer an answer, as can smart support from the government.
The expertise needed for a successful circular business model is often multiple and is offered by a wide range of lawyers, accountants, logistics players, sustainability specialists, etc. A clear overview of which companies offer which type of knowledge can accelerate the rollout of circular business models.
It forms an enormous added value for companies that innovate in the circular sector if they can share their insights and knowledge from practice with each other. Existing network organisations could for instance set up more specific network activities around concrete topics for circular entrepreneurs.