Last week, we at MissionC have been at the Reflect Festival in Limassol, Cyprus. And it was mind-blowing! Not only a beautiful island location adds a whole dimension to a conference, but the mixture of tech, innovation, finance, sustainability and social impact gave hope for the future where tech and humanity coexist together. But you won’t be surprised if I tell you what the most magical ingredient was: awesome people
When the wizard-conference-woman Kristina Priecelova called me with an invitation to give a talk on Circular Economy on Cyprus, I was sold quite immediately. Now, just a couple of days after the conference, I can easily say that it has exceeded all of my expectations and it will very likely leave a major foot step in shaping our future.
Day 1. After I gave a talk on business opportunities arising from circular innovation the power of our conscious decisions, a bubble of massive interest exploded. Everybody from students, inventors, corporates and start-ups and event crew just wanted to know more. What can we do? How to invest? What technology is driving this? What is the role of business vs. governments? Our discussions continued until the multiple late night events. To the point I almost felt guilty of hacking the topics at the dinner table, but they insisted on topics like universe, sustainability and wanting to make the world a better place. For real :)!
Giving a workshop on practical tools for circular economy, was another surprising experience. Imagine you are trying to get the attention of some of the 1000 walking-by people who are choosing between your workshop, two stages with fantastic speakers, sunny beach and a lunch break. Pretty great challenge, right? We were so incredibly lucky with our group that brought so much energy and laughter following the only rule of the workshop – ‘lets have fun’! We are positive that circular economy was a pretty new concept for everyone. So we decided to apply the principles of circular value chain to a product everybody can relate to – the Amsterdam city bike! The task was easy – generate as many as possible ideas to close the material loop of the bike life cycle. And they were smashing! From modular design, renewable & recycled resources, using data & tech to connect to ecosystem and be more resource-efficient, sharing the bike on IoT platforms, designing a city-to-MTB cross-over, extending the bike’s life cycle through better care and maintenances, and so on. When you have witnessed the magic in people’s eyes having the ‘circular eureka’ moment, you know your job is done!
But it wasn’t… We at MissionC believe in change through massive tech innovation. It is so inspiring to hear about new rising tech-for-good businesses: loved the talks of Pablo from Arkyne Technologies, Charlotte from Moya Power and Aki from Naava and our panel discussion on renewable energy from plants, harvesting wind power without turbines, merging nature and tech to improve our health, and of course on circular solutions. The discussions continued to our favourite topic – digital! The role of the different types of AI and data in circular business models, sensors helping companies to track their material streams and increase efficiency. And how about blockchain for good? Of course. Many awesome companies like Bonaverde are already doing that, so let’s scale-up.
How about the money talk? It’s thrilling to witness the level of consciousness rising everywhere. But let’s don’t fool ourselves, the majority of businesses will only go circular if there is a solid business case. The estimates suggest that value of 1.8 trillion EUR will be generated through circular economy solutions just in Europe by 2030. The funding is coming in the form of government and EU funds, major banks looking into financing circular business models, and maybe the most important for the curtail phase of scaling up, the VC’s. Now, we need to be honest and say that we need to give circular financing a though. In many business models, especially in ‘service as a product’, cash flows are significantly different than our standard valuation models can deal with and we have need a approach to ROI. But financial innovation is an innovation too – we are confident that the ones who will figure it out, are building a major competitive advantage for the future.
While just having arrived back home to Amsterdam, we are already missing Cyprus. Thank you for the incredible platform for shaping the future and for inviting us to be a part of it: Dusan, Stylianos, Kristina, Andria, Anna, Valerian, Sonata! Thank you fellow speaker line-up for the most inspiring talks and time together Charlotte, Pablo, Paul, Hans, Nick, Matej, Tomas, Simon and many, many others. You guys rock!
And a special high-five to Sophia the Robot – the world’s first android citizen: ‘It is not human versus artificial intelligence, it is humanity and artificial intelligence.’
Eva – talking about the positive business case for circular innovation, mobilising tech, investments and people to transform to more resource efficient society
Sophia – the world’s first android citizen
Photo credits: Reflect Festival