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:
Materials innovation continues to push the limits: from food waste repurposing solutions, to biomaterials innovation, we are seeing a wide array of solutions looking to solve the global waste problem through recyclable and compostable new fibers and materials.
Regenerative agriculture and carbon fixation: agriculture alone accounts for 11% of global carbon emissions - it is essential that we invest in solutions that are decreasing this footprint. The good news is that the tidal shift has begun and we continue to see inspiring solutions to increase carbon fixation and regenerate our soils for long-term planetary health.
Technology solutions for a more sustainable planet: from consumer apps, to corporate sustainability tools, to agricultural and biotech solutions, the days of chisel and hammer seem to be behind us. Technology has increased the rate of change in our modern world and entrepreneurs are leveraging this by developing tech-based solutions to expedite the transition to a more sustainable food system.
Regional innovation variation: Transformation looks different from country-to-country and region-to-region. And while many of these solutions are globally scalable, what we saw was a recurring story of inspiration coming from unique regional challenges - such as waste innovation in Africa and India; seafood industry solutions coming out of coastal countries; and food-waste solutions coming out of industrialized nations. These entrepreneurs are being inspired daily by the unique and specific challenges of their industry and locale, but have the vision to see the broader social and environmental impact of the opportunity.
Perhaps the greatest inspiration is the depth and breadth of the circular economy, and the incredible number of inspiring entrepreneurs working to solve some of the world's biggest challenges. And while we will only be able to select eight companies for the Huhtamaki Circular Economy Startup Program, we encourage everyone to surface and support the circular solutions in their communities and industries. The solutions are out there - it’s time to help them scale.
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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.