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30 May 2022

Circular Economy Innovation Workshop 2022 | Ellen MacArthur Foundation

Launched in 2015, with the signing of the agreement between Carlo Messina and Ellen MacArthur, the renewal of the strategic partnership between Intesa Sanpaolo and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation was recently announced for a further 3 years.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation is an international charity that develops and promotes the circular economy to address some of the biggest challenges of our time, such as climate change, biodiversity loss, waste and pollution. The Foundation works with its network of private and public sector decision makers, as well as academia, to build capacity, explore collaboration opportunities, and design and develop circular economy initiatives and solutions. Increasingly based on renewable energy, a circular economy is driven by design to eliminate waste, circulate products and materials and regenerate nature, to create resilience and prosperity for business, the environment and society.

In these first 6 years, the partnership has helped to strengthen the launch of Intesa Sanpaolo's first Plafond dedicated to Circular Economy with an initial amount of € 5 billion, which then rose to € 6 billion following the merger with UBI Banca, and fully allocated already at the end of 2021.  The Group also has recently announced that an additional 8 billion euros will be allocated to the credit line for the circular economy as part of the strategic plan 2022-25.

Circular Economy Innovation Workshop 2022, the transversal nature of Circular Economy 

After two years of virtual meetings, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation brought together its strategic partners for the Circular Economy Workshop, a two-day event dedicated to the challenges and opportunities created by the transition to sustainable and regenerative business models. Together with Intesa Sanpaolo it was also present the team of the Circular Economy Lab, the innovation initiative that arises from the partnership between Cariplo Factory and Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center to contribute to the evolution of the Italian economic system and spread new models of value creation in the collective interest, accelerating the transition towards Circular Economy models.

"Twice a year we bring together our network of partners to learn, share and collaborate in a two-day event. We have been doing this since the Foundation was born and today we meet several hundred people from around 100 organizations. I am delighted that Intesa Sanpaolo joined us again this year, together with various representatives of the Group". Hugh McCann, Strategic Partners Lead EMF

The event was an important opportunity to describe the success of Intesa Sanpaolo's Circular Economy Plafond. Professional figures belonging to multiple business units attended the workshop. This highlights how Circular Economy is now part of the logic and business strategies of the divisions and the management of the Group, always acquiring increasing transversality.

"In the meantime, the main challenge is to fully understand that the Circular Economy is an economic model, it is a business model. It is not simply a topic linked to the environment and sustainability. This is already a very important first step that also we, as a banking group, must continue to make. And in function of the fact that it is a business model, the most important thing for companies is to understand how to act concretely and how to try to set up business models that follow the principles of the circular economy, but that are also business models with positive margin, with real value.

Obviously this is a very long-term path, because transforming the whole economy into a circular logic will have a very long-term impact. But all of us as a banking player and the real economy must be good at understanding how to find market niches, vertical sectors in which to apply these models. In our opinion there are these spaces. Today the world is mature, we have to work even more on the final part of the market, or rather on who makes the demand who is able to understand the final value of a product built according to circular principles and ensure that this model, this small approach, is an economically positive approach. Once this is done, then we will be able to extend the principles to the economy in general; therefore, perhaps we will have achieved the success we hope for”. Alessandro Balboni, Responsabile Innovation Business Development Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center 

To face these challenges, Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center and Cariplo Factory introduce the offers of the Circular Economy Lab and support the companies of the Italian productive fabric in their paths of circular innovation.

“Here with the Ellen McArthur Foundation we have seen that the transformation of companies towards a circular economy must be done in a collaborative way together with players in the same sector but also with start-ups, innovative SMEs, universities and research centers. The Circular Economy Lab presides over all these projects. These are open innovation projects which means opening the doors to corporate innovation, towards the external innovation ecosystem”. Giovanni Bugnotto, Innovation Manager Cariplo Factory