Over the 8 weeks of application outreach and selection for the upcoming Huhtamaki Circular Economy Startup Program by FS6, we heard from an expansive group of innovators from around the world and across many sectors of the circular economy. Applications came in from 51 countries and ranged from small-scale big-impact regional solutions to large-scale global innovations.
These solutions represented many of the leaders of our present and future food system and, as such, provided an incredible opportunity for learning and a preview into what may come next in the evolution of the circular economy.
Here are some insights that we have gathered through this process about what is happening around the world to usher in a more sustainable and circular future for our planet and its inhabitants:
Huhtamaki Celebrates Its 100 Year Anniversary by Donating EUR 3 Million to Circular Economy Initiatives to Address Global Sustainability Challenges
HUHTAMÄKI OYJ PRESS RELEASE 18.5.2020 AT 14:00
To mark its 100-year anniversary Huhtamaki is donating EUR 3 million to global sustainability initiatives with a local impact. We are acting today, educating for tomorrow and funding innovation for the future, making a difference where it matters most to help address global sustainability challenges and build circular economy initiatives.
This month's newsletter includes a letter from our CEO about the COVID-19 pandemic, a summary of the FS6 COVID landscape analysis, and updates from our portfolio and community.
By Renske Lynde
As we discuss the benefits of blended capital for early stage entrepreneurs (ESEs), the inevitable questions arise around benefits for both foundation and venture investors. “Intelligent capital,”(1) as Katie McCann calls it in the FS6 and Guidelight Capital Webinar, is capital that recognizes the value of early-stage sustainability organizations, and it is becoming increasingly important for investors on both sides of the aisle to recognize the potential impact of participating in these sectors.
What we often see is that, in their early stages, mission-driven for-profit organizations need the support of philanthropic capital - whether grants, PRIs, MRIs, etc. - in order to get off the ground and open themselves up to more traditional funding streams. In her eloquent article on Catalytic Capital, MacArthur Foundation Managing Director Debra Schwartz applauds philanthropic funding as “patient, flexible, risk-tolerant financing.”(2) Looking back at the ROI trifecta of reward, risk and impact from Part I of this article, it can be seen that mission-driven ESEs offer a unique balancing of social capital with risk, in a way that traditional for-profits do not. As such, these ESEs should be viewed in conjunction with the non-profit organizations that are generally sought out for philanthropic funding opportunities. Even at their earliest stages, the impact of these investments is built upon the social capital of inquiry - learning more about the strengths and weaknesses of the systems that we are trying to change; exploring new outlets and avenues for innovation; and, perhaps most importantly, when successful, building an economic future where the mission-driven goals of foundation partners is built into the fiber of the new food system. In further reflection on the MacArthur Foundation’s investments in these types of ESEs, Schwartz points out:
By Renske Lynde
Building a company from idea into a successful and viable entity is among the most difficult challenges anyone can undertake. For entrepreneurs attempting to bring solutions into the marketplace that will have a positive and demonstrable impact on the health and sustainability of our food system, the challenges are even greater. The food system is highly complex, heavily regulated, and incredibly interdependent. In addition, the food system is made up of living elements and people who are subject to changing weather patterns, intricate logistics, evolving consumer preferences, and complex supply chains that are often intentionally designed for opacity.
The range and scale of the challenges in our global food system requires us to chart innovative new paths towards solutions. One way we can leverage all the knowledge and capital required is to support the paths of early-stage entrepreneurs (ESEs) who are building scalable solutions. Speaking to the constraints around relying on the more established players for innovation, Christensen, Baumann, Ruggles and Sadtler of the Harvard Business Review point out:
In this webinar, FS6 sits down with a diverse group of stakeholders to discuss the role of blended capital in supporting impact-driven solutions to food system change.
FS6 is a nonprofit based in the San Francisco Bay Area whose mission is to support impact-driven entrepreneurs as they transform how we grow, produce, and distribute food. The organization runs a comprehensive accelerator program that mentors entrepreneurs by coaching them through a wide range of business and organizational needs. FS6 also works to educate stakeholders on the unique capital needs as it relates to redefining the food system.