C-BOOT — Bootcamp for starting entrepreneurs in a circular economy

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C-BOOT Bootcamp

Circular economy and entrepreneurial spirit were the two main protagonists of C-BOOT Bootcamp, which saw its final phase in Trento. From 13 to 15 November, CLab Trento hosted the 18 participants in the programme, chosen from students, PhDs or young researchers, but also Alumni and young professionals from all over Europe. The innovators tested themselves at creating a business idea linked to the theme of the circular economy, an idea that was then presented to a jury of experts.

What is C-Boot?

It is an international coaching program, funded by EIT Raw Materials, and organized by the research institute Vito (Belgium), the University of Lund (Sweden), the University of Trento and Hub Innovation Trentino. The first meetings were held in September with three days of workshops in Belgium, followed by another three days of training in Sweden in October. In Belgium the workshops were held in Mechelen: here the participants were introduced to the theme of the circular economy and attended a testimony of an entrepreneur in the sector. Then, they formed the teams and started to identify and validate their business idea. In Lund, Sweden, they continued to work on their projects, identifying their circularity characteristics and built a first prototype. The focus of the Swedish workshops was also to understand if the ideas found were really circular and if they included a truly sustainable use of the resources needed to carry out the projects. Finally, the teams developed their value proposition for the market and identified their business model. The three days in Trento also had a very specific focus: to prepare the final presentation of the business idea developed up to then. To help the participants, coaches and experts from the three institutes have collaborated with other guests from the local ecosystem.

The first day in the spaces of CLab has held the speech of Giulio Bonazzi, President and CEO of Aquafil Group. For years, Aquafil has been one of the main international players in the production of synthetic fibres. Participants got to know ECONYL® Regenerated Nylon, a type of nylon regenerated through the reuse of waste from other end-of-life products such as fishing nets employed in aquaculture, or carpets destinated to the landfill. The CEO concluded his speech by talking about how necessary innovation not only from the point of view of products and production processes is but also from the point of view of legislation.

Ecodesign is the future. Nowadays, products are not made with the idea of being recycled. Manufacturers know that they will end up in landfills. We need to change this idea of production; we need the products to be re-thought. We need to create a circular model where there is no waste. We need to create a new way to extract value.

His speech was followed by the one of Daniele Basso, founder and CEO of HBI Group, a company from Trentino whose mission fits perfectly into the circular economy idea. HBI Group produces fossil peat derived from wine production waste and used to produce renewable energy. Daniele and his team have been working for years on the development of innovative and green technologies that allow the preservation of natural systems and improve the well-being and social equity of the territory. Daniele talked to the participants about which requirements must have a good presentation to be made in front of a jury or a group of investors. He told how he himself initially had difficulties presenting his idea and how over the years it had been necessary to work not only on the development of his product but also on his pitch. To the question “What are the key elements for a good presentation?”, the CEO answered:

first, do not start immediately with the presentation but take a moment to think about what you have to say; second, make a good introduction; third, say something unexpected to involve your listeners.

All advices that the participants have made their own at the time of their pitch. The jury for the final presentations of C-BOOT was composed by experts in the innovation of the Trentino ecosystem: Christian Giacom of Trentino Sviluppo, Milena Bigatto of Hub Innovazione Trentino, Cveta Majtanovic of Innovando, Massimo Pellizzari of the Department of Industrial Engineering of the University of Trento and Fabio Pegorin of EIT Raw Materials. They listened carefully to the ideas of circular entrepreneurship proposed and then commented on the individual projects. The moment ended with the election of the winning project, concerning the reuse of fibres from work uniforms for the production of new garments. The three days of the workshop ended with a visit to Progetto Manifattura in Rovereto, an incubation space of Trentino Sviluppo dedicated to sustainable innovation. Here the participants met Volverup, a Trentino company specialized in the production of bags created from waste sheets of trucks. Thanks to this program, participants developed the ability to recognize circular opportunities, learned the basic principles of lean start-up and how to best launch their business ideas.

But this was only the beginning for them. Now, with the right tools, they will surely have the skills to concretely develop their circular economy projects and show us the way to future entrepreneurship.