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RECYCLING BUSINESS MODELS

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - RBM (RECYCLING BUSINESS MODELS)

Reporting period: 2019-10-01 to 2021-05-31

As a result of the exponential increase in the world population, the demand for everyday basic goods such as food, transportation and manufactured products is growing at high speed. This increasing demand for raw materials is putting an enormous strain on our planet's resources, as well as having a negative impact on earth’s climate (CO2 emissions).

The Circular Economy Model can offer news ways to mitigate these risks. The Model offers an alternative solution to the current model of take-make-dispose, reducing waste, pollution and extraction of raw materials, as resources are continuously reused and repurposed to create new products. This eco-friendly design fosters innovation, and results in a sustainable economic growth with opportunities for businesses, due to new consumer demand.

Recycling Business Models Project (RBM) is based on the opportunities for SMEs and companies the Circular Economy (CE) perspective can bring. New business models within this concept are beginning to deliver success and impact in terms of driving competitive benefits. Creating enterprises around sustainable models can improve both their environmental impact and competitiveness. The main purpose of RBM has been indeed to investigate and analyze the possibility to transform traditional science and technology parks in more sustainable areas, to establish the basis of models of Eco science and technology parks.

During the implementation of the project, it has been perceived that most science and technology parks are still at an early stage about adopting a circular economy strategy within their strategies. Parks aware of the importance of this new approach are focusing mainly on awareness campaigns for their target audiences, as well as the design and implementation of national and international projects with pilot initiatives to test circular economy applications that can be implemented in Technopolis. The most advanced parks in the field of industrial symbiosis have designed strategic plans and are beginning to implement initiatives related to waste and infrastructure management. It is interesting to mention that several companies located in science and technology parks are independently running circular economy initiatives.
The actions foreseen in the project envisaged the creation of several tools that allow to define a specific methodology and strategy to promote the creation of new business opportunities for SMEs and the creation of new companies, based on the revaluation of waste, equipment, and their reinstatements in the life cycle of companies located in science and technology parks.

An intensive set of activities has been run during the RBM project, as described in the technical report enclosed, with the delivery of three main products, namely:

- Handbook about Circular Economy Good Practices in Science and Technology Parks (infrastructures, waste management, awareness campaigns, national and international projects, business initiatives and strategic plans)
- Handbook about Circular Economy Opportunities for SMEs and companies
- Manual about the state of circular economy among SMEs in science and technology parks and suggestions for circular economy loops
The RBM worked on the state of art, the detection, selection of the good practices in Circular Economy and the disseminations/transfer of information toward innovation actors. One of the results has been the realization of interviews to Circular Economy experts in each participating region (partners and associates) to know about good practices and activities implemented in this field. The outcomes were summarized in two handbooks, one focusing on Circular Economy Good Practices in Science and Technology Parks and the other one about Circular Economy Opportunities for SMES and companies explaining the activities and uses that can be performed, and the benefits for SMEs. The impacts reached during the RBM project were in line with the impacts foreseen initially, namely:

- To raise awareness about the Circular Economy Concept, and the opportunities that SMEs and companies must make the most of. For this reason, a deep state of art and analysis were performed during the Action 1 of the project to investigate the topics and approaches related to this new model. Then a total of 19 events (conferences, workshops, and meetings) took place to promote the project and the activities implemented and to look for synergies. A description is available in the technical report enclosed.
- To improve the quality management of the innovation agencies and strategic actors participating in the project, more especially in concepts and technologies related to Circular Economy and in learning process, to deliver efficient services to SMEs, based on their real needs, with the objective to increase their satisfaction and to propose solutions that will fast-track their development. The Handbook about Circular Economy Good Practices in Science and Technology Parks and the Handbook about Circular Economy Opportunities for SMEs and companies, delivered during the Action 1 of the project, have been good tools delivered for the innovation agencies which propose relevant information. More information is available in the technical report.

- To increase the number of innovation agencies engaged in peer learning activities. In this sense, during the preparation of the proposal, several associate partners were selected to carry out peer to peer activities with them, and to transfer the results of the project within each participant region. Moreover, during the project, strategic actors (universities, chambers of commerce, technology parks and associations of science and technology parks, public entities, experts in Circular Economy) were also invited to participate in the foreseen activities. More than 60 entities from the following areas participated in the project: national and international ecosystems, education institutions, incubators and SMEs support entities, partners from previous European projects related to the call and priorities, working groups and clusters in Circular Economy in the participating region, public entities involved in Circular Economy strategy and, SMEs and companies.

- Finally, the partnership worked on the transfer of the results of the RBM project, especially the conclusions of the peer learning. The manual about the state of Circular Economy among SMEs in Science and Technology Parks and the suggestions for Circular Economy loops developed in the action 2, has been a good tool to raise awareness, and to promote the improvements suggested and their inclusion in regional and national innovation supporting programs.
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