Edinburgh Innovations is developing a tool to help new startups to apply circular-economy thinking to their business models as part of a multi-partner project that has won funding of €1.2 million from the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT).
The CloudEARTHi project is a collaboration between the Arctic University of Norway, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Alicante (Spain), FH Burgenland (Austria), Varna University (Bulgaria) and business partner G-Force, based in Slovakia.
Universities as engines of impact
It will review, assess and improve institutional innovation and entrepreneurship practices in the areas of big data and sustainability, with the aim of enabling universities to be engines of impact to lead the transition to a circular, net-zero economy.
A key element of the project to be led by the University of Edinburgh will be the development, testing and commercialisation of a new framework to help startups to develop circular, net-zero business models.
The University has received funding to recruit a member of staff to lead the Edinburgh project, who will be employed by EI within its circular economy Business Development team. Colleagues in EI’s Business Development and Enterprise Services teams will deliver the project.
The framework will be designed for new startup companies looking to use data and digital technologies to address sustainability challenges, or looking to embed circular thinking more generally in their business models and practices.
The University of Edinburgh has committed to become a net-zero-carbon, zero-waste university and is working to embed circular thinking and practices across its research, teaching and operations.
An important element of this is the support EI provides to industry partners on their journeys towards a net-zero, circular future by leveraging the University’s wide-ranging expertise in this area.
EI worked with consortium partners and the University’s Department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability to develop the project proposal to EIT. The proposal was based on the unique strengths of the consortium and the interventions required to improve institutional innovation and entrepreneurship in the area of big data and sustainability.
The CloudEARTHi project comprises a number of inter-connected elements which include the development of new courses and training materials, the creation of physical spaces as innovation hubs, knowledge exchange secondments of academics into industry and support for existing circular economy companies to grow their businesses. The project is led overall by the Arctic University of Norway.
Charlotte Lee-Woolf, Business Development Executive at Edinburgh Innovations, said:
“Being part of this new consortium, and leading the development and application of a new business model framework as part of the CloudEARTHi project, provides a fantastic opportunity for the University to draw on its expertise and track-record in the circular economy, data-driven innovation and entrepreneurship fields to help increase capacity of higher education institutions to drive forward the transition to a net-zero, circular economy.”