Artículo: Circular entrepreneurship in a knowledge economy

Compartimos un artículo en inglés que escribimos en Marzo 2018 para IE Circular Economy Forum. 

The Circular Economy is a new economic paradigm based on the regeneration of natural capital through design. It is inspired by nature functioning and it aims to ensure that products, components and resources maintain their usefulness and value at all times while creating social wealth & wellbeing. Based on two metabolisms, one biological and one technical, it promotes a continuous cycle of positive development that conserves and improves natural capital, optimize the use of resources and minimizes system risks by managing a finite amount of stocks and renewable flows.

It is an ambitious, challenging and more daring bet than the Green Economy (an economy efficient in resources) since it requires the radical transformation of the means of production, supply chains, culture and consumption habits worldwide.

The paradigm of the Circular Economy seems to have won what conventional environmentalism narrative tried for decades. A succulent speech, attractive for entrepreneurs, companies and institutions. With the popularity, came the confusion and some sort of “circular washing”. The Circular Economy has being misunderstood, lately, as a new form of the waste management or recycling, but it is not.

At Ecologing, a purpose driven and social organisation, created back in 2009 by Nicola Cerantola, we believe that Circular Economy, represents the greatest opportunity for a systemic shift towards a new and prosperous future. In all these years, we have been working from two interrelated perspectives that grow and learn from each other: Education and Entrepreneurship.

Why is that? Well, both, are key elements to foster a circularisation of the society, since a new paradigm can be only possible if we are able to facilitate the enabling conditions to flourish. Those enabling conditions are intrinsically depending on three main pillars: infrastructure (technology), energy and information. How we combine efficiently them is what provide us with the means to build and organise our society.

We live in knowledge society and to make an impact we need to find out what are the most profitable leverage point to consider and activate. Our experience in combining and creating knowledge come from the observation of the market and the cultures, the understanding of the impact of technology and how new business models are changing the lives of millions of people. To be running a company or starting up a new business you need to know how to do it and learn as much (fast) as possible.

Entrepreneurs and companies can thrive, only, if there are able to evolve and adapt (as nature teach us) to changing contexts and conditions. To do so, they need to have the knowledge to make the right steps and the vision to set a path, both provided by education on values. Our work in universities and incubators has been based on creating decision making tools and templates, spreading new ways of thinking circularity and environmental challenges, questioning the aim of the transition and finally, inspiring a new conception of business design and purpose.

As a knowmad agile organisation, we rely on an independent and responsive network of close collaborators and we aim to not only keep working to disclose the circular economy concepts but to walk the talk as a bioinspired organisation, learning to evolve and thrive from natural and human resilience.

We are looking forward to keep helping students, entrepreneurs, companies and institutions to embrace circular entrepreneurship (through business design) and innovation since new opportunities lay ahead, huge opportunities.

There is a lack of competences, skills and visions to tackle this ambitious and complex challenge because until now we have lived in a society of specialists, youngsters trained by “linear” industrial (even military) education. To get to a circular bioinspired paradigm, we need more trained generalists, 360º entrepreneurs and visionaries that are able to connect solutions and respond to multiple perspective problems. Their role will be to facilitating and articulating knowledge, resources and human specific talents in order to achieve a real transformation.

Education is just the first step of this ongoing revolution, technologies such as IoT, Big data, Blockchain and AI are setting up new scenarios that companies and entrepreneurs will be to deal with, even if they don’t want to. Bio and nanotechnologies will enable a further valorisation of waste and byproducts as never before, creating new materials and processes, so we need to get prepared and embrace a lifelong learning path is the only way to compete and make the society circular.

All these drivers are layers of the same circular picture, and it is time to start learning how to use them to create the best picture ever.

As said, the circular economy is NOT waste management but the much more ambitious search for socio-economic mechanisms that regenerate natural ecosystems and promote the well-being, health and happiness of all living beings.

It is up to us to make it real.

Nicola Cerantola, Madrid, March 2018