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Research - 20.04.2023 - 12:00 

Circular Lab: Four million euros to support the circular economy in the Lake Constance region

The Circular Lab will be commencing its activities on 1 June 2023. The central hub for the circular economy in the Lake Constance region is being funded with two million euros by Interreg Alpenrhein-Bodensee-Hochrhein. The same amount will be contributed by the six universities involved and more than 30 business partners. Further partners are welcome. The initiative came from researchers at the University of St.Gallen, who, together with the Vorarlberg University of Applied Sciences, are assuming the co-lead.
Am 1. Juni 2023 wird das Circular Lab, der zentrale Hub für die Kreislaufwirtschaft (Circular Economy) in der Bodenseeregion, seine Aktivitäten aufnehmen.

This is a great success for the University of St.Gallen (HSG) and its partners in the project: they prevailed in a multi-level, two-year application process of the EU funding programme Interreg Alpenrhein-Bodensee-Hochrhein. The concept of Circular Lab (Clab) as the central hub for the circular economy in the Lake Constance region convinced those responsible. Interreg will be funding the project until 2027 with more than 2 million euros. The Swiss project partners will receive around 1.2 million euros in funding from the New Regional Policy of the Confederation, EUR 0.55 million of which will go to HSG, where the project was initiated in cooperation with the Institute of Management. Around 50 per cent of the total costs of some EUR 4 million will be contributed by the participating partners themselves. "We are very happy that our application has proved to be so convincing," says Project Manager Dr Fabian Takacs. "In an interdisciplinary syndicate, we aim to close technical and biological resource cycles. We will endeavour to develop general solutions across industries and business strategies for implementation." 

Accordingly, the project is intended to make a major contribution towards the creation of a circular economy in the textiles industry as well as agriculture and food industry in the Lake Constance region. "We are excited to research how AI-supported circular processes can support innovative business models for a circular economy," says Prof. Dr Andrei Ciortea, Assistant Professor for Information Technology. The project will address the core points of the EU's Circular Economy Action Plan as well as the content of the European Green Deal. The project will ensure that the transfer of knowledge as regards results and findings will continue even after the project has come to an end. 
Prof. Dr Karolin Frankenberger, co-initiator and head of the Circular Economy Competence Centre adds: "The Circular Lab starts out at the company level and helps them to alter their strategies and business models in such a way that they can make a contribution towards the creation of a circular economy. I am very much looking forward to this exciting project and expect us to achieve a very positive effect for the region."

Six universities and 30 companies involved

The project starts on 1 June 2023 and has a broad reach given the involvement of six universities from three countries. Besides the HSG, these are the Ost University of Applied Sciences of Eastern Switzerland, the Zurich University of Applied Sciences, the Vorarlberg University of Applied Sciences, the Albstadt-Sigmaringen University and the Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University. The partners will be contributing various forms of expertise with regard to information systems, business model innovation and consumer research. More than 30 partners from the textiles industry as well as from agriculture and the food industry will be ensuring an optimal transfer into practice. These include Freitag Lab AG, Vaude Sport GmbH and Dürkopp Adler. The project is open for further partners from the corresponding industries who would like to make a contribution towards the implementation of the circular economy. 

Great strategic relevance for the HSG 

Sustainability of an integral element of the HSG Vision and Strategy 2025. This sees the circular economy as one of the three key solutions for overcoming the climate crisis and the wastage of resources. For this reason, the HSG pursues approaches that incorporate the circular economy into research, teaching and on campus. The Circular Lab is an important step towards understanding and enabling closed production and consumption cycles," said 
Prof. Dr Judith Walls, Commissioner for Responsibility and Sustainability. "We are happy that the project is under the auspices of HSG and aims to bring about effective cooperation within the region."

Image: Unsplash

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