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

We are proud to be part of the Circular Lab. The Circular Lab has started its activities on June 1, 2023. The central hub for the circular economy in the Lake Constance region is being funded by Interreg Alpenrhein-Bodensee-Hochrhein with two million euros. The six universities involved and more than 30 business partners contribute the same sum. More are welcome. The impetus came from researchers from the University of St.Gallen, who are co-leaders together with the Vorarlberg University of Applied Sciences.

Great success for the University of St.Gallen (HSG) and its project partners: In a multi-stage, two-year application process of the EU funding program Interreg Alpenrhein-Bodensee-Hochrheinthey prevailed. The concept of the Circular Lab (CLab) as a central hub for the circular economy in the Lake Constance region convinced those responsible. Interreg is funding the project with over 2 million euros until 2027. The Swiss project partners will receive around 1.2 million euros in funding from the federal government's new regional policy. Of this, EUR 0.55 million goes to the HSG, where the project was initiated in a collaboration between the institutes for business administration and computer science. The partners involved contribute around 50 percent of the total costs of around 4 million euros themselves. "We are very happy that we were able to convince with our application," says project manager Dr. Fabian Takacs. “In an interdisciplinary consortium, we aim to close technical and biological resource cycles.

The project is intended to make a significant contribution to the realization of the circular economy in the textile industry and the agricultural and food industry in the Lake Constance region. "We look forward to researching how AI-supported circular processes can support innovative business models for a circular economy," says Prof. Dr. Andrei Ciortea, Assistant Professor of Computer Science. All key points of the EU's Circular Economy Action Plan and the contents of the European Green Deal are addressed. The transfer of knowledge about the results and experiences should be ensured beyond the project period. Prof. Dr. Karolin Frankenberger, co-initiator and head of the Circular Economy Competence Center adds: "The Circular Lab starts with the companies and helps them to change their strategies and business models in such a way that they can contribute to the realization of a circular economy. I am really looking forward to this exciting project and I expect that we will have a significant positive impact on the region."

Six universities and 30 companies involved

The project will start on June 1, 2023 and is broadly based with six participating universities from three countries. In addition to the HSG, these are the Eastern Swiss University of Applied Sciences, the Zurich University of Applied Sciences ZHAW, the Vorarlberg University of Applied Sciences, the Albstadt-Sigmaringen University and the Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University. The partners contribute different expertise in information systems, business model innovation or consumer research. More than 30 partners from the textile, agricultural and food industries ensure optimal practical transfer. These include Freitag Lab AG, Vaude Sport GmbH and Dürkopp Adler. The project is open to other partners from the relevant industries who want to contribute to the implementation of the circular economy.

High strategic relevance for the HSG

Sustainability is an integral part of the HSG Vision and Strategy 2025. It sees the circular economy as one of the three key solutions to overcoming the climate crisis and wasting resources. The HSG is therefore pursuing approaches that include the circular economy in 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, Responsible and Sustainability Officer. "We are pleased that the project is based at the HSG and is aimed at effective cooperation in the region."

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