STAND Up!: More than 30 economy enablers gather to foster Open Eco-innovation in the Mediterranean


The ‘Open Eco-innovation for circular economy enablers’ webinar, which was celebrated on the 21st of December 2021, gathered a total of 34 attendees that received detailed approach on the process enablers need to develop to facilitate connections between companies and entrepreneurs. Organized by the Regional Activity Centre for Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP/RAC), the Lead Beneficiary from STAND Up!, the methodology was presented online so enablers could understand the importance of their role in making an open eco-innovation challenge a success.

Co-hosted by SDLI, the innovation consultancy that co-developed the manual with the methodology, the session was divided in two parts: a theoretical one and a hands-on session. Alessandro Miraglia, Team Leader of the Networking & Communications Facility at SCP/RAC, introduced the session by highlighting the importance of the agreements achieved in the COP22 Convention celebrated in Antalya (Turkey) on the 7-10th of December to enable circular economy businesses in the Mediterranean.

Ignasi Clos, Co-Founder of SDLI and Open Innovation Consultant, explained that the goal of the session was to discuss the methodological framework designed by SCP/RAC to foster collaboration between corporate ventures and start-ups in the Mediterranean. The session had a central panel to discuss on enablers’ success cases, with the participation of Anna Majó, Business Innovation Director of Barcelona Activa and Neveen Badr, Operations Lead of Yomken.

The success of Barcelona Activa and Yomken, two case-studies to mirror

“We’re not a vending machine of services, we need to play a role in making the ecosystem be dynamic and make things happen”, shared Anna Majó. Barcelona Activa has more than 40 years of experience creating businesses and their goal is connecting big corporates with start-ups to find good solutions, while connecting people.

On her side, Neveen Badr was proud of Yomken as a pioneer initiative in the Middle East and Arabic countries. “We have a network of more than 10.000 innovators and we work not only in Egypt, but also in other countries”, she underlined. Nevertheless, they both recognised that there could be some difficulties along the way when trying to connect start-ups and enablers.

For Anna, the real issue is to distinguish real challenges from “marketing ones”, and addressing real commitment behind. Neveen also agreed on the importance of the commitment from start-ups and innovators. “The financial reward helps people to keep committed and make them want more”, said Neveen.

They shared two success stories from Egyptian villagers in the poultry industry and four retail shops in Barcelona. Yomken witnessed how an innovator proposed to use agricultural waste to turn it into energy, reducing gas emissions and making poultry farmers keep their main source of income. The positive impact on the environment was that the new gasifier eliminated health hazards and environmental degradation.

On the other hand, Barcelona Activa could improve the experience of small retail stores by adding added value from online purchases. By installing a pilot in the four stores the experience of the buyers improved and, therefore, the revenues and the amount of incomes improved the way of connecting with clients.

Why Open Innovation?

Along the session, Ignasi Clos presented and explained the methodology for enablers that supports the matching between the seekers of green and circular business solutions (companies and public institutions) with the providers (entrepreneurs) using an open innovative approach. Among the benefits, the open innovation process reaches larger and more relevant audiences, reduces R&D costs, allows risk mitigation and also new talents to be found.

Clos also shared with the enablers that attended the webinar the different stages of this open-innovation methodology:

Before closing the meeting, Marta Anglès, Project Manager of STAND Up! at SCP/RAC, explained the next steps and upcoming activities. From February 2022 a set of challenges will be launched through an Open-Innovation platform addressing the textile and fashion sector. These challenges will be responded with crowd-sourced innovative solutions by ventures in Spain, Lebanon, Italy, Egypt and Tunisia.

In this sense, SCP/RAC will manage the platform ensuring that the user base is active and challenges are met with new solutions. This activity is funded by the EU-funded project STAND Up! under the ENI CBC MED Programme and the Switchmed Programme.