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02 December 2022

Call4Circular: behind the scenes of the collaboration between Gruppo Iren and Circular Economy Lab

“Call4Circular | Circular products and materials", promoted by Gruppo Iren in the context of the Iren Startup Award in collaboration with Circular Economy Lab - a project by Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center and Cariplo Factory - is the initiative whose objective is to develop circular open innovation projects in the context of the Group's business activities, in line with the company's decarbonization and energy transition objectives.

An increasingly close collaboration between Gruppo Iren and Circular Economy Lab

The collaboration between Gruppo Iren and Circular Economy Lab was born with a Market and Tech Assessment project in the textile and fashion sector, to identify and implement solutions for the collection, recovery, and recycling of material flows with high valorization potential and improvement. The collaboration continued with a Call4Startup on strategic verticals for Iren's sustainability and innovation plan, intending to carry out pilot projects and startup-company POCs. The Call4Circular, in this sense, is only the latest example of the common goal of generating a positive impact in the territories and innovation regarding the circular economy.

The possibility of accessing an international network of innovative companies from the panorama of startups, research, and technology transfer centers, innovative SMEs, universities, and company spin-offs, combined with the rapid and expert evaluation of the solutions most aligned with the technical-commercial needs of the company were the reasons that contributed to renewing this collaboration. The opportunity of having a flexible and personalized work process also played an important role, based on the best market practices concerning the numerous Open Innovation projects implemented over the years by the CE Lab.

Premises and objectives of the Call4Circular | Circular Products and Materials by Gruppo Iren and CE Lab

The Call4Circular, whose scouting will last about two months and which it is possible to participate in through the dedicated page on the Circular Economy Lab website, is aimed at innovative startups and SMEs operating in four main sectors: environment (with particular attention to the recovery of precious metals, rare earth, and electronic cards, together with separation and recycling technologies), water (with a focus on the purification and monitoring of industrial wastewater and sludge treatment), hydrogen (production, storage, and distribution) and energy (technologies of accumulation).

At the end of the initial phase, one-to-one in-depth sessions are scheduled with the most compelling startups, to develop a collaboration "use case" within the following two and a half months. The role of the CE Lab will be, in this context, to guide and facilitate the identification of the circular innovation needs of Gruppo Iren, actively conduct a full-bodied scouting on the identified topics, filter the startups arriving at a shortlist calibrated on the company's needs up to lead the drafting of the collaborative use-case.

Finally, an achievable result thanks to the possibility of accessing an international and extensive network, the consequence of the continuous scouting work of Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center and Cariplo Factory, as well as the network of companies of Intesa Sanpaolo and universities of Fondazione Cariplo, together to the ability to analyze and evaluate the best innovative solutions gained over the years through continuous work in contact with startups and the innovation ecosystem. Without forgetting, in all of this, the passion driving the CE Lab team in generating a positive impact on the Italian economic system through innovation and the dissemination of new circular economy models.