Launching Australia’s first Circular Economy Lab.

  • Co-Innovation

Circular is the new linear.

Traditional ways of taking, making and disposing have wreaked havoc on our natural environment, and global tensions around the problem of waste are mounting, literally. The circular economy presents a unique solution and opportunity, catalysed by what we call the circular shift. This proposes that we close the loop on resources by recreating and reintroducing value throughout the entire supply chain. The circular shift happens by design. We consider how products can be engineered in a way that makes full use of the materials required, eliminating waste from the very beginning and valorising existing waste streams. As we explore new circular business models through sharing, leasing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling, we are not just shifting customer behaviours and mindsets but creating new pathways for economic and environmental benefit.

Enter the Circular Economy Lab. A platform for rapid prototyping and multi-party innovation where industry leaders solve widespread challenges in transitioning to the circular economy. Business Models Inc has partnered with Coreo, circular economy experts, to co-design and deliver Australia’s first Circular Economy Lab in Queensland, backed by the Queensland Government’s Department of Environment and Science. The lab is an exercise in co-innovation at scale, where around twenty-five industry leaders come together around common cross-sector challenges they’re facing in their journey towards circularity. Throughout a series of hands-on workshops over a period of three months and countless (reusable) cups of coffee, participants will work in their respective teams to test and validate the circular solutions they come up with. This culminates in a pitch event where the Lab participants present their solutions in front of a panel of investment judges. Success at this point could be the launch of a new venture, startup or initiative between the team members that can be taken to market. In this pre-competitive environment, the teams are creating commercial solutions to solve real-world problems that really matter to people.

Why do we care about the circular economy?

The circular economy not a new or novel concept by any means. However, recently in Australia there has been a nationwide push for greater leadership – for public policy that enforces circular principles and for industry to lead the change. In 2014, the World Economic Forum put the potential worldwide economic benefit of transitioning towards a circular economy at one trillion USD annually. In Australia it is estimated that the circular economy will be a $26 billion dollar industry by 2025. This is not just about eliminating waste, although an inherent part of the process, but it is about positioning your business at the edge of innovation and taking advantage of the circular shift that is already underway globally. The Queensland Circular Economy Lab is fundamentally an exercise in co-innovation and collaboration, grasping opportunities with both hands and tackling challenges by ‘design doing’ not just design thinking.

A global perspective.

Business Models Inc have been exploring the circular economy first hand through our involvement in the R2PI project, which focuses on the business model mechanics of transitioning from a linear model to one that is sustainable and circular. Through this project we are providing policy makers and industry leaders with the tools, and most importantly, the confidence they need to make the shift.

“It is truly inspiring and amazing what can be achieved if companies fully commit to a circular ambition. We did an extensive case study of MUD Jeans and we love the way their entrepreneurial team addresses the simple question: ‘What if we clean up our own mess?’. The result being a serious circular company with loyal customers who lease and buy jeans and spread the mission. The same customers also bring their old worn and not-used jeans right back into the loop.”

Roland Wijnen, Business Models Inc

Building understanding.

This month marks the beginning of the workshop program for participants in the Circular Economy Lab. On Monday 25th of February 2019, we kicked things off with a launch event and celebrated with friends and champions of the circular economy across Queensland and beyond. We heard from the Honourable Leeanne Enoch and Queensland’s Chief Entrepreneur Leanne Kemp, who this year chaired the Circular Economy at the World Economic Forum at Davos. Leanne has also joined the Circular Economy Lab advisory board alongside other global change makers and systems thinkers including Dr Alex Ryan from the MaRS Discovery District, Dr Brandon Gien of Good Design Australia and Kari Herlevi from Sitra Finland and others. Watch the video below to see what went down at the launch!


Co-innovation is key to systemic change.

Participants in the Lab are designers of a more sustainable future. But this future does not come alive in isolation, it is a collaborative effort. Teams that go through the Lab do so with the goal of developing a commercial pathway for their collective idea or solution. To make matters easier, teams will benefit from the use of ​AVVA​, a collaborative tool and venture validator designed and developed by Made In The Now – our lab where we build and grow ventures – in partnership with the AI experts at Veriluma. AVVA will support each Lab team accelerate their validation process by bringing simplicity to complexity and codifying collaboration. We are also facilitating collaboration beyond the Lab by mapping the circular economy network – a data-driven exercise to create the Circular Economy Futures Dashboard, an Australian first. The Dashboard will be powered by ​LEO​, another Made In The Now product, and allow us to trace the impact of the circular economy community. This will be​ an open design resource for people interested in exploring the Queensland circular economy, where they can be connected with like-minded people and opportunities.

We are excited to be providing the framework for new commercial solutions to emerge, helping industry stakeholders tackle enriched systemic challenges. Watch this space to learn more about the Circular Economy Lab as we get our hands dirty over the coming months ideating, prototyping and testing circular solutions!

If you are interested in working with us on a co-innovation project to explore the circular shift, reach out today!


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