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Austin launches circular economy challenge

The qualifying criteria asks businesses to create products or services using a unique selection of discarded materials from existing companies

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Austin's challenge aims to keep more local waste products in productive use
Austin's challenge aims to keep more local waste products in productive use

The city of Austin is looking for innovative ways to repurpose waste in its fourth annual [Re]Verse Pitch Competition. It will award two innovation prizes totalling $20,000 to local entrepreneurs. The qualifying criteria asks businesses to create products or services using a unique selection of discarded materials from existing companies, which this year includes white and red wine grape skins and office chairs.

 

The social innovation programme helps turn valuable raw materials that are currently leaving local businesses, non-profits and institutions as waste, into the foundation for new social enterprises.

 

Encouraging a circular local economy

 

The 2019 competition is designed to inspire profitable ventures and support a more circular local economy, where all materials and products are kept in productive use and waste is designed out. Co-hosted by the Austin Young Chamber of Commerce and the City of Austin, [Re]Verse Pitch Competition hopes to continue to generate economic opportunities and provide environmental and societal benefits while supporting Austin’s zero waste goal.

 

The competition begins at the opening event on 26 February where five [Re]Verse Material Suppliers – entities that are consistently generating or collecting by-product, surplus, or other underutilised materials in Austin – will give presentations about their would-be waste to entrepreneurs. This year’s material suppliers and the resources they’re offering, include:

  • The Austin Winery: white and red wine grape skins;
  • HID Global: poly-carbonate dye-cut plastic sheets;
  • JOSCO Products: polyester napkins;
  • Texas Oncology: styrofoam coolers and freeze packs;
  • Travis County: office chairs.

Potential competitors, after attending the materials demonstrations, will then have five weeks to determine how previously wasted item(s) might become the foundation for a sustainable Austin enterprise.

 

Mentoring and incubation

 

Contestants will receive guidance from mentors and technical advisors and have the opportunity to attend specialised workshop sessions as they formulate a business plan and test their concepts for viability. In addition, Austin Technology Incubator’s Circular Economy Incubator is offering a free short course on Entrepreneurship & the Circular Economy for four weeks leading up to the [Re]Verse Pitch Competition kick-off. Interested entrepreneurs are invited to register for this free course here.

 

Finalists will pitch for the chance to win one of the two Innovation Prizes – $10,000 to the best new business idea and $10,000 to an existing business that is able to make use of one of above byproducts – at the closing event on April 30, 2019 at UT’s Rowling Hall.

 

Entrepreneur competitors, future material suppliers and anyone interested in the competition are encouraged to RSVP to the opening pitch event at ReversePitch.org/events. More information about each of the materials is available online at ReversePitch.org.

 

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