Innovation Ecosystems for the Circular Economy

Because of its nodal position in many value chains, the chemical industry plays a critical role in the evolving circular economy: Without the chemical industry there will be no comprehensive recycling and reuse of molecules and materials – and the potential of full circularity will not be realized.

On the other hand, the chemical industry cannot act as a catalyst towards circularity alone – it needs close collaboration with its partners across the value chain. The industry needs to further expand and grow its innovation ecosystem together with other actors, which is an important reason why we need more accelerators, incubators and other forms of collaboration spaces. Spaces, where new innovation partnerships can form between chemical players, other players and most importantly start-ups that are pushing for new technologies and solutions on the interfaces between chemistry and other disciplines such as robotics, nanotechnology, genomics and artificial intelligence.

One of the first examples of such a new type of innovation ecosystem is the Chemical Invention Factory Berlin which is a project funded with over 10 million Euro, coming from the Federal Government and the Technical University of the city. Why Berlin? Because Berlin has the highest numbers of chemical start-ups in Germany and because Berlin has one of the highest university densities in Germany.

While we still have to wait and see how the Chemical Invention Factory will live up to the high expectations set into it, there is no doubt that the circular economy of the future will need catalytic spaces of this kind in order to make the transition a success.

CIEX 2018 is just a few months away! Join me on September 19 as I will be moderating a panel discussion on how to capture new global and regional opportunities across the chemical value chain. The panellists for the discussion include –

  • Alexa Dembek, Chief Technology and Sustainability Officer, Specialty Products, DowDuPont  
  • Pierre Barthélemy, Executive Director Innovation, CEFIC
  • Eric Bischof, Vice President, Corporate Sustainability, Covestro
  • Sharon Todd, Executive Director, Society of Chemical Industry

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