Circular based on the concept of the circular economy

KLAK – Icelandic Startups has opened applications for the cycle accelerator Hringiðu. It is a business accelerator based on the concept of the circular economy. The application deadline is April 4, but the accelerator starts on April 25 and lasts for 8 weeks.

"The accelerator was run for the first time last year, but according to our sources, this was the first time globally that a business accelerator based on the concept of the circular economy has been run," says Kristín Soffía, managing director of KLAK - Icelandic Startups. Up to ten start-up projects will be selected and given access to a wide network of mentors from the business world and targeted training.

"The circular economy is based on the concept that all waste can be used as a resource and is based on the full utilization of existing products rather than the utilization of new resources. "Full exploitation in the fishing industry is now generating more secondary value than new fishing." Kristín describes the circular economy as recycling for the economy that creates value and jobs. "It is estimated that 9,000 jobs are lost annually due to untapped opportunities in the circular economy. These include underutilized waste heat from industry and unused opportunities for full utilization in agriculture and the lack of material recycling and waste management."

European grants amounting to billions

Kristín says that the purpose of the accelerator is also to help the companies get grants from European grant funds and there is a special focus on the LIFE program, but the preparation is also useful for other programs such as Horizon Europe. "We have access to cool funds in Europe that are of enormous importance to companies that are building innovation in the circular economy," but Kristín says the grants amount to hundreds of millions and in some cases billions of ISK.

The LIFE program's European grants are run by the EU, but countries pay into such programs to be able to apply for the grants. The Ministry of the Environment, Energy and Climate Affairs paid into the LIFE program for the first time this year, and Icelandic companies can therefore receive grants. "Since this is the first time that Iceland participates in the LIFE program, there is limited knowledge of it within the country. That's why we work closely with Inspiralia in Spain, who are experts in European grants."

Access to a wide network

Kristín says that Hringiða is not least a platform for networking between companies and institutions. "We have a large and powerful group of people who come from the private sector, the public sector and institutions that advise the companies in the accelerator and also connect us with experts inside and outside." This way we get access to a unique network and knowledge."

The so-called TRL scale is used when projects are selected for participation in the accelerator and also to receive LIFE grants. TRL stands for "Technology readiness level" and indicates how far the product is in development. To participate in the accelerator, companies must be defined in the fourth stage of TRL. Then there must be a prototype of the product, which may be imperfect. To receive a LIFE grant, the product must be defined at the fifth stage, or a product that is ready for sale. Kristín says the accelerator is both for more advanced startups and independent projects within established companies and institutions.

"The project must be based on new technology or a new implementation of technology. The applications are then based on the companies being able to explain the innovation and how they calculate the climate impact of the project. In addition, they have to explain, among other things, how they intend to carry out the project and explain the technically complex parts of the project."

Interview appears on vb.is March 26, 2022