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Towards a circular economy: materials, supply chain & manufacturing

BASF co-hosted STARTUP AUTOBAHN event with Bosch

Working towards a circular economy is a task that cannot be achieved alone. It requires extensive collaboration with partners along the entire value chain.”

Aggeliki Quell

Technology Scout and Startup Autobahn Champion at BASF

In collaboration with Bosch Mobility Solutions, BASF hosted the STARTUP AUTOBAHN event on the circular economy on May 19 and 20, and welcomed over 1,500 participants from over 35 countries.

STARTUP AUTOBAHN powered by Plug and Play is an open innovation platform facilitating an in-depth and curated collaboration between core partners from the industry and young tech companies. The program is designed to accelerate startups by connecting them to the right business units to lay the foundation for successful cooperation and subsequent pilot projects, implementations, or investments.

So, why the circular economy? It is quite evident that our natural resources in the world are being depleted at a rapid rate. One of the big questions in the automotive value chain is how we can create new product cycles that enhance the efforts to reduce product carbon footprints.

In contrast to the common linear model of “take-make-waste”, a circular economy is regenerative by design and aims to gradually decouple growth from the consumption of finite resources. This requires a radical shift in how we source our materials, the types of input we use, how we follow these materials along their lifecycle and how we can continue to use them, even after they have fulfilled their initial purpose.

Throughout deep dive sessions at the event, ten startups presented their approaches to tackle this challenge. These included technologies for market intelligence, waste monitoring & management, waste heat recovery, Life Cycle Assessment, and circular materials, amongst others. At these deep dive sessions, STARTUP AUTOBAHN partners are invited to meet new startups as part of the pre-selection phase for the next program. Following this, each partner has the opportunity to meet with each of the startups in short face-to-face meetings, similar to speed dating.

I was really surprised how much potential there is in the startup world to leverage the world’s top priority: fighting climate change.

Sebastian Tietz

Director Open Innovation Bosch

Directly following the deep dives, the event was then opened to the partners and invited external parties to take part in an exciting discussion on the tech topic of the day: “Towards a circular economy: materials, supply chain & manufacturing”. Two questions on the agenda which were addressed by keynote speakers and during a panel discussion included: How can Net Zero Emissions become a reality? And how can sustainability become affordable for companies and society?

We create chemistry for a sustainable future. That is why we come to work every day and where we strive to create an impact. It needs commitment, as well as courage to walk new paths.”

Uta Holzenkamp

SVP Fuel & Lubricant Solution, referring to BASF’s purpose in her keynote speech during the meetup event

To foster this spirit and solidify the cooperation between market players, the keynotes speeches and startup pitches were followed by virtual round table discussions, giving STARTUP AUTOBAHN and guests a chance to meet the startup companies around a virtual table and providing them with the opportunity to network and discuss possible collaborations. Coming back to Uta Holzenkamp’s keynote speech: 

It is also fun to develop sustainable solutions with our customers.”

The event was a huge success. In addition to fostering the dialog on this important topic and connecting startups with STARTUP AUTOBAHN partners, several participants are planning the next steps with a view to identifying future collaborations based on follow-up calls and dedicated pitches.