With backing from the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s i6 Challenge and the Resource Innovation and Solutions Network (RISN), the RISN Incubator aims to catalyze the shift towards a more circular economy by helping bring early stage solutions for waste diversion and improvements in processing or utilization of waste as a raw material for new products or energy to market.
ASU and the City of Phoenix will provide selected startups with the necessary resources — including access to feedstock from Phoenix’s waste transfer station — support and training to further develop and scale products and services that contribute to the regional development of a vibrant circular economy. The two organizations will also provide investor network management training and work with startups and entrepreneurs to develop solid business plans.
Venture concepts eligible for the incubator include, but are not limited to: conversion of solid waste into new material or energy; services that divert, reuse, or recycle; software applications around sustainability (waste, organic material, reuse, recycling); and design services that focus on sustainability.
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“Fostering public-private partnerships, as well as embracing new and innovative ideas, is integral in achieving Phoenix’s 40 percent waste diversion goal by 2020,” said Ginger Spencer, Direct at Phoenix Public Works. “An incubator, where great minds can get together to grow ideas and find unique solutions, is going to be a critical piece in developing a robust circular economy in our city.”
The priority waste feedstocks that participants will have access to include plastics, batteries, carpeting and carpet foam, broken furniture, mattresses, textiles, food waste, compost and plastic film. Innovators may also respond to an open call for other materials or items in the waste stream.
“ASU identifies innovation and the support of new ventures as essential to the development of a strong economy at local, regional and global scales,” said Ji Mi Choi, Associate VP of ASU’s Knowledge Enterprise Development, leading Entrepreneurship and Innovation. “Between the experts at ASU and the material and practice resources at the City of Phoenix, we are excited to work with the ventures that will be creating exciting new solutions to our waste and energy challenges.”
The RISN Incubator will be spearheaded by Director Alicia Marseille, former Directo of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Women’s Business Center, AWEEc.
Applications for the Incubator are open now until July 24, with the challenge kicking off August 25.
The RISN Incubator builds on ASU’s previous track record of driving sustainability innovation. The University’s Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives program has, since 2012, been working to educate future leaders in sustainability strategies, engage the public around sustainability issues and find solutions to global sustainability problems. In 2014, ASU partnered with the Dutch Municipality of Haarlemmermeer to create the world’s first regional plan based on the principles of a circular economy. And earlier this month, the University teamed up with adidas to form the Global Sports Alliance, a strategic partnership designed to shape the future of sport through innovation and creative problem-solving.