The European Innovation Council (EIC), via its Corporate Partnership Programme, enables and supports collaboration between EIC beneficiaries and corporates. Following the EIC Corporate Day with Neste in autumn 2021, Dutch-based company Circularise teamed up with top corporate Neste.
The EIC frequently organises dedicated matchmaking events through its Corporate Partnership Programme (Corporate Days or Enhanced Cooperation) to support companies and promote sustainable innovation and growth across all EIC beneficiaries.
That’s precisely what happened with the EIC Corporate Day with Neste that took place on 23-24 November 2021. As a result, participating EIC company Circularise (which has had a previous EIC investment of €1.502.331) and corporate announced a collaboration to bring Circularise’s traceability software into circular polymers and chemicals supply chains. The intention is to help establish digital solutions to trace renewable and recycled material flows, thus providing increased transparency along the value chain.
To better understand how this happened, we had the chance to meet with Antti Ritala from Neste (Head of Venturing and Acquisitions, Innovation) and Phil Brown from Circularise (Vice-President of Business Development & Strategy) to ask them some questions.
What is the deal about?
Antti Ritala, Neste: In May 2022, Neste and Circularise announced a partnershipto support the scaling of Circularise’s traceability software into circular and biological polymers and chemical supply chains. The companies are collaborating to establish digital solutions to trace renewable and recycled material flows, providing increased transparency along the value chain. In these value chains, sustainability is currently built as a trust game. It’s not easy to verify sustainability in many cases. It’s not just about the product itself, but about how that product has been processed – and we might not be able to tell any differences within the physical product. As such, Circularise’s traceability solution helps create a new level of clarity on the flows of materials and associated data.
Neste is also part of a pioneering project between Circularise and ISCC (International Sustainability and Carbon Certification), in which partners tested a blockchain system to complement the ISCC Plus certification. Circularise’s blockchain-based digital system was tested with the ISCC Plus certification to make auditing of certified parties more efficient, and to strengthen the integrity of certified data. Participants utilised a public blockchain enabling authentication, decentralisation and encryption of data verifying material flows and related sustainability attributes.
In November 2022, Neste was also part of a group of companies/investors announcing a combined €11 million investment into Circularise. The goal of the investment is to accelerate the transformation to more sustainable materials within the polymers and chemicals industry by providing new digital solutions to boost the traceability and visibility of material flows along value chains. (Read: Neste press release & Circularise press release)
Phil Brown, Circularise: Circularise representatives met Neste representatives at a dedicated EIC Corporate Day in November 2021, whereby Circularise responded to an open challenge from Neste to present digital solutions that can support innovations for circular supply chains. Neste set out its vision and plans for Circular supply chains and material flows. This provided Circularise with a clear understanding of how its traceability solution represented a great fit for Neste’s needs. This initial connection set the foundation to create a shared vision for where both parties wanted to get to.
How did it take place? How did the EIC matchmaking event contribute to that?
Antti Ritala, Neste: The first point of contact between Neste and Circularise was the EIC Corporate Day in November 2021. Circularise solution had a strong match with Neste. Both companies also shared the vision of urgency in moving to circular and renewable value chains in polymers and chemicals. The EIC matchmaking was spot on and helped both companies find each other, in other words, helped us plant the seeds for the partnership between Circularise and Neste.
Phil Brown, Circularise:The direct results from the EIC engagement have resulted in multiple PoC projects with multiple supply chain partners. These PoC projects have supported all actors to advance supply chain traceability solutions and present the progress that comes from collaborations. A circular economy is inherently a networked proposition, as such real advances within the core ideas and their implementation will only be developed when front-runners collaborate to show what is possible. This initial collaboration between Neste and Circularise has supported both actors to advance their engagement with other companies within the polymer and chemical industry to show what is possible and trigger wider interest from others to join in. This is how we will grow the circular economy.
How were the negotiations, and what value does it add to your company?
Antti Ritala, Neste: Partnership negotiations were smooth, driven by shared visions of companies in helping the polymers and chemicals industry move to circular and renewable value chains. Having had the opportunity to get to know each other in EIC matchmaking also helped.
It allows us and our partners to verify sustainability claims in an industry that due to complex value chains often makes it difficult to track and trace material flows. It turns the ‘trust game’ that sustainability claims are in today within this industry into a data-backed game. It adds the ability to validate claims from multiple parties within the value chain.
Phil Brown, Circularise: This foundation has been central to advancing the discussions between both organisations as both set out how they envision supporting circular flows of materials. Neste provided the technical process know-how and position in the supply chain, being the first actor to start traceability. Circularise provided the technical digital know-how and provided independence within the supply chain which meant others felt comfortable joining the supply chain traceability processes. Starting from this shared position has resulted in a win-win-win situation whereby both parties and the supply chain as a whole have benefited from this initiative.
What are the future outlooks?
Antti Ritala, Neste: We are looking forward to working with Circularise to provide the polymers and chemicals industry with a traceability solution to bring the necessary transparency into the value chains. With the ISCC project as a pilot, the cooperation with Circularise can also benefit other value chain-spanning partnerships of Neste.
About the EIC Corporate Partnership Programme
Since 2017 the EIC Business Acceleration Services has developed its EIC Corporate Partnership Programme to allow EIC companies to boost their network and meet relevant decision-makers from the largest companies in Europe. From October 2017 until March 2023, 63 initiatives have been organised with +100 corporate partners like: ABB, Airbus, BMWCaixaBank, CommerzBank, Enel, Ferrovial, L’Oreal, Medtronic,Neste, Novo Nordisk,Roche, Saint-Gobain, Shell, Siemens Energy, Solvay or Telefonica. Over 1200 EIC-funded startups/scaleups and +2500 corporate high-level representatives have been able to participate in these initiatives reporting a significant business impact, follow-ups and business deals in less than 6 months, including numerous pilots, proofs of concept and other business collaborations.
The EIC is looking for large corporations with open innovation spirit, interested in integrating innovations coming from startups, scaleups and research projects directly into their business offering, procurement and R&D activities as well as investing in highly innovative/deep tech companies. You can join the EIC Corporate Partnership Programme here.
If you are an EIC innovator looking for new opportunities, please check out the EIC Business Acceleration Services event calendar and sign up to enhance your business.
Circularise is asupply chain traceabilityandtransparencystart-up founded in The Netherlands in 2016. Circularise’s mission is to bring end-to-end traceability to global supply chains. Circularise’s Software system helps suppliers in chemicals, plastics, battery materials, metals, and other industries to trace materials and share data and their environmental footprint of materials without risking their sensitive data. Read more about Circularise.
Neste (NESTE, Nasdaq Helsinki) creates solutions for combating climate change and accelerating a shift to a circular economy. The company refines waste, residues and innovative raw materials into renewable fuels and sustainable feedstock for plastics and other materials. Neste is the world’s leading producer of sustainable aviation fuel and renewable diesel as well as renewable feedstock for polymers and chemicals and developing chemical recycling to combat the plastic waste challenge. Read more about Neste.
Source: European Innovation Council | News (https://bit.ly/3YnwhSI)