Closing event 'Circular Werk(t)!' proves that collaboration between social and circular entrepreneurship pays off
On Tuesday 28 November, the Department of Work and Social Economy (WSE), Flanders Circular and OVAM organised the closing event of the learning network 'Circulair Werk(t)!' in Turnhout. The programme started with the support of Europe in 2020 with the aim of joining forces from the social and circular economy and strengthening each other. Scattered across Flanders, 12 social circular hubs were established, including the CICO Hub in Kortrijk, with the objective of detecting social circular opportunities and converting them into action and entrepreneurship. At the same time, the King Baudouin Foundation, in collaboration with Möbius, organised a learning network for the different hubs. During the closing event, the results of the learning network were presented.
Results at a glance:
In three years, 12 hubs for circular and social entrepreneurship were established across Flanders;
77 test tracks between the circular and social economy established;
87 grant applications with companies, 45 of which were approved;
The partnership and cooperation between local governments, mainstream economy and social economy proves to be essential for success of trajectories.
What is a social-circular hub?
A hub boosts social-circular entrepreneurship at the local level. Thanks to the hub, social and circular entrepreneurs, businesses, knowledge institutions and financiers meet, explore concrete collaborations and work out pilot projects. In a circular economy, cooperation is necessary and this requires a wide range of competences and expertise. For this reason, a social-circular hub is set up as a partnership between different actors. This cooperation model, which includes various stakeholders with their own competences and each with a network, is essential to support an equitable circular transition.
What does such a collaboration look like?
In Kortrijk, the CICO (Circular co-creation) Hub consists of the partners Designregio Kortrijk, Voka West-Vlaanderen, Leiedal, Howest and WAAK. With these actors from different backgrounds and with different competences, we often uncover surprising ideas. This platform therefore aims to increase knowledge about social circular entrepreneurship, discuss problems and thresholds and create (chain) cooperation.
In 2023, the Hub organised a co-creation process with 3 designers and the city of Kortrijk around the waste of flags and heras cloth. The designers went in search of new uses for the discarded material and at the same time explored more sustainable solutions. The results were shown in a fascinating expo at the WONDER festival.
c Jonas Verbeke
We also focused on information and inspiration sharing and networking. With two road trips, we visited social circular initiatives in West Flanders. With the Creativity Summit we brought circular cases to a broad audience and with the VLAIO day entrepreneurs could get one-on-one advice on circular entrepreneurship. With these and other initiatives, we put social circular entrepreneurship more clearly on the map.
c Jonas Verbeke
Partners from 12 hubs and dozens of organisations met regularly over the past 3 years in a learning network and at the closing event "Circular Werk(t)!" on 28/11 in Turnhout.