How can companies contribute to improving the quality of life for everyone in times of digitalisation? How can companies successfully adopt sustainability as a part of their digital strategy? The newly set up centre aims to answer these questions by encouraging small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to introduce a long-term concept on economic, ecological, digital and social issues and to develop innovative products, services and business models. The centre is also an important component in the implementation of the strategy for digital transformation in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW).

This project is a collaboration between the CSCP and its networking partners the Chamber of Industry and Commerce North Rhine-Westphalia (IHK NRW) and Heinrich-Heine University Düsseldorf.

Economics and Digital Affairs Minister Prof. Dr Andreas Pinkwart shared, “We are consistently continuing along the path we have embarked on with the topic of responsible corporate management in digital times. Digitalisation must be at the service of the people. I am pleased that we are now bundling the various aspects of digitalisation in connection with economic responsibility in a state-wide centre, offering companies a contact point in North Rhine-Westphalia and thus assuming a genuine pioneering role.’’

The new centre will network partners from business, science, start-ups, civil society, financial players as well as chambers and associations with each other. The centre aims to jointly develop solutions for entrepreneurial challenges in the age of digitalisation and sustainability and to carry them into organisations. The focus is on corporate culture, living and working, digital leadership and social entrepreneurship. Other important fields of action are fair dealings with employees, diversity in personnel selection, environmental, climate and resource protection, respect for consumer interests, assuming responsibility for the supply chain, transparent corporate management and open and appropriate communication with stakeholders in connection with digitisation.

Michael Kuhndt, Managing Director of the CSCP, sees the new centre as a special opportunity to accelerate the sustainable transformation of the economy with the help of digital technologies and to strengthen NRW as a business location: “Digitalisation and sustainability equally challenge products, services, business models, leadership and lifestyles. The resulting changes offer great opportunities for actively shaping the corporate strategy for a good life and sustainable innovations”.

The centre was selected among many other projects by a jury and is financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and by state funds. A total of 800,000 euros is available for 3 years. As planned, the centre will start work at the beginning of 2020.

For further information, please contact Patrick Bottermann.

Can ‘imperfect’ fruits and vegetables be recycled and given new life? Also, can the ‘agents of change’, help pass on the information about sustainable methods of farming? In the training programme organised by the Switch Africa Green ‘GOALAN’ project in Njambini, Kenya, over 40 women and youth entrepreneurs learned through practical demonstrations how they can apply sustainable horticulture practices and add value to their produce of potatoes and Brassicas.

The micro-, small- and medium-sized horticultural enterprises (MSMEs) around the Lake Naivasha Basin in Kenya face a range of challenges from a dry climate to limited water resources. The unsustainable horticultural practices such as the overuse of chemical pesticides and fertilisers further pollute the water and soil in the area, creating the vicious cycle of chemical overuse.

Almost half the employees in agriculture and its sub-sector horticulture are women. Even still, women face more restrictions than men in accessing productive resources such as land and finance. At the same time, Africa’s population is growing with [2]billion population under the age of 25. A majority of the African youth are unemployed and according to the World Bank, by 2035 around 350 million new jobs will be required to balance the booming population. The youth do not view agriculture as a favourable opportunity for livelihood, even though the sector has great potential to create jobs. The objective of GOALAN project is to support the women and youth overcome these challenges in the Kenyan horticulture sector.

The project introduces sustainable consumption and production (SCP) practices to MSMEs and farmers, allowing them to comply with the new Kenyan Standard (KS) 1758 for horticultural produce. This government standard, under the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS), covers issues of food safety, environmental sustainability, and social accountability and is key to farmers as it allows greater market access.

Strengthening the supply chain

The GOALAN project also works with bulk buyers, such as big hotels around Lake Naivasha, to create the awareness of SCP and the importance of buying sustainable fruits and vegetables. The produce is healthier and nutritious, and buying locally supports the economy and local communities. As stipulated in Kenya’s national Green Economy Strategy and Implementation Plan (GESIP), this enables them to also support and build a better relationship with the local (county) governments.

The push and pull strategy of the GOALAN project resulted in the signing of contracts between several high-end hotels and MSME groups around the Lake Naivasha Basin. Through contract farming, MSMEs are guaranteed that their sustainable produce will find a market which offers them a better price and buyers are assured a stable supply of fresh fruits and vegetables.

After the initial success of cultivating sustainable fruits and vegetables, the project is now working with public procurers (governmental institutions, schools, prisons) to identify ways the MSMEs can supply their produce to these institutions. With the support from the county governments of Nakuru, Narok and Nyandarua, the GOALAN project hopes new contracts with public procurers can soon be facilitated.

Field demonstration on sustainable potato production

Value addition          

Around 200 target MSMEs expressed their interest in the capacity-building training in harvesting and post-harvest handling techniques so they can add value to their horticultural produce. Through proper harvesting and post-harvest techniques, MSMEs can reduce the loss of harvest, ensuring good quality produce reach the markets and consumers.

The GOALAN project facilitated the train the trainer programme (ToT) to develop new products from the horticultural produce. This helps diversify the MSMEs’ products as they often cannot sell all their fruits and vegetables and have to discard them or use them as cattle feed. Creating new products adds value and gives the not-so-perfect fruits or vegetables new life. The GOALAN project promotes sustainable food systems where food is not wasted but instead ‘recycled’ to preserve its nutritious values.

Women and youth empowerment

Through the (ToT) programme for youths and women, the GOALAN project creates a pool of ‘change agents’ who will further share their knowledge on sustainable horticultural practices (SCP) with other farmers and entrepreneurs in their villages. During the 3-day programme, the youth and women were introduced to Irish potato and Brassicas production (Cabbages, Spinach, Kale, Broccoli and Lettuce) and also learned how to add value to their produce. Through practical field demonstrations, they were also shown how to prepare the land for planting and received information on marketing as well. They were also taught about potato storage structures, seed production and the safe and effective use of pesticides. Most importantly, the group also received guidance regarding access to finance.

For more information on the GOALAN project, please contact Kartika Anggraeni.

[1] The role of women in agriculture Prepared by the SOFA Team and Cheryl Doss

[2] The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations: The future of Africa’s Agriculture rests with the youth

16 consortiums won the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Innovation Competition run by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi) and will have the chance to start implementing their AI-related project ideas from early 2020 onwards.

Among the 16 winners is the project “REIF: Resource-efficient, Economic and Intelligent Foodchain”, which aims to revolutionise the food industry in Germany to guarantee a supply that is as waste-free as possible. The CSCP is a partner of this research project which investigates the potential of AI to optimise the planning and control processes in the food industry.

The CSCP will support the effective and efficient integration of all relevant stakeholders into the REIF ecosystem, both during and after the project. Also, it will contribute to enabling the participating companies to adapt operational processes and organisational learning through training and further education. By analysing the needs of manufacturers, retailers and end consumers, the requirements for AI-based services will be sharpened and the range of solutions and concepts improved to ensure connectivity and further use of the project results.

On 19 September 2019, on the occasion of the opening of the new Digital Technologies Forum in Berlin, Dr Ulrich Nussbaum, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi), honoured the winners of the competition. The winners now have the opportunity to implement their project within the framework of a funded three-year phase. The projects cover numerous industries and topics from health, smart living, trade, production, agriculture, mobility and construction to quantum computing.

The REIF consortium, which will start its work officially in 2020, consists of the following 18 partners: Arxum GmbH, BayWa AG, Collaborating Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production, Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der angewandten Forschung e.V., Hochland SE, GS1 Germany GmbH, University of Applied Sciences Augsburg, University of Applied Sciences Hof, Industrial Analytics IAB GmbH, Inotec GmbH, Jade University, Kuchenmeister GmbH, Software AG, Spicetech GmbH, Technologisches Institut für angewandte Künstliche Intelligenz GmbH, tegut… good food GmbH & Co. KG, Technical University of Munich, Westfleisch SCE mbH. It will be coordinated by the University of Applied Sciences Augsburg. 

For further information, please contact Rosa Strube.

While circularity can minimise waste and resource extraction, improve resource efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and contribute to conserving biodiversity, a recent report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) states that the circular economy initiatives in Europe are still in their “infancy”.

In its report titled ‘Paving the way for a circular economy: insights on status and potentials’ (published on 1 October 2019) the EEA points out: it is too early to evaluate the overall economic and environmental impacts of the circular economy, since initiatives are young and diverse, and relevant harmonised European-level statistics are still largely lacking.

The good news is European companies are increasingly adopting circular business models, focused mainly on operational efficiency and reducing waste. Shifting from product-based to service-based business models is another promising development. The majority of the EEA member countries support circular economy initiatives with regulation and market-based instruments or softer policy instruments such as information campaigns and labels.

That said, challenges such as corporate culture, market factors and system complexity still limit the adoption of such models. Furthermore, relevant methods of data monitoring is still not available in established information systems, including national statistics. The EEA report also points out that circular economy policies and initiatives require better integration with bio-economy and climate policies.

The CSCP as part of the European Topic Centre on Waste and Materials in a Green Economy (ETC/WMGE) has contributed to this report by particularly looking at circular business models and relevant consumer behaviour.

This EEA report is the fourth focusing on the circular economy; the three previous reports are:

For further questions, please contact Nora Brüggemann

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

The German Association for Alternative Protein Sources (Bundesverband für alternative Proteinquellen e.V., or Bal-Pro) officially kicked-off this summer. The Association’s members come from a network of start-ups, food companies and experts. They will come together to create a platform that provides transparent and comprehensible information on alternative protein sources. The CSCP is a member of this Association and will mainly act as a scientific advisor.

The complexity of our food production systems often makes it difficult for consumers to understand the production processes to make sustainable and informed consumption choices. The Bal-Pro Association thrives on an exchange from start-ups, consumers, research institutions and corporations. They aim to provide clear information on alternative protein sources internally (between the members of the association) and externally.

The official kick-off meeting saw representatives from the German food industry (including large and small corporations), innovative start-ups and scientists from the food industry. The CSCP participated in this meeting as our Executive Director, Michael Kuhndt, is a member of this Association.

Bal-Pro chairmen Sebastian Biedermann and Fabio Ziemßen shared that the association, which began with seven members, has now expanded to 48 member companies. The members also set the strategic fields of action for Bal-Pro,  including Food Data + Protein 4.0, Labelling +Transparency, the Future of Alternative Proteins, and Raw Materials.

The CSCP is looking forward to being a part of this promising new association as alternative protein sources have great potential to change the food landscape in Germany to be more sustainable.

For further information, please contact Carina Diedrich.

The students of Bonn-Rhine-Sieg University of Applied Sciences (H-Brs) attended a workshop organised by the CSCP to learn about developing innovative Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities that facilitate the concept of circular cities. This was a part of their one-week CSR course where they cycled to different organisations in the Rhineland and Ruhr area to learn about business ethics and different approaches to CSR.

The 2- hour workshop started with a presentation on CSR and circular cities, through which the students were made aware of the challenges in cities. Following this, they were divided into groups and had the chance to collaborate on solutions on the following questions:
– How can organisations contribute to the development of circular cities through their CSR strategy?
– How can design thinking be used and successfully implemented?

The other topics students focused on were local production systems, urban mobility system and urban bioeconomy, where they had the opportunity to develop their concepts. One such interesting concept which they devised under the topic of urban bioeconomy was a food waste collection system. Here, waste from private households and companies are collected by people riding cargo bicycles, which is then brought to urban gardening spots. The organic waste produced from the food waste is then further used as fertiliser to cultivate fruits and vegetables. Additionally, this urban gardening spot houses a recreation space which also offers childcare facilities.

They also developed business models for the future which were based on CSR-strategies and the principles of the circular economy. Each group had the chance to present their results and explain the business model. This was followed by a lively discussion on the challenges and opportunities of these business models .

The Faculty of Economics and the Centre for Ethics and Responsibility (ZEV) at the Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences (H-BRS) introduced a one-week course in CSR for their students this year. Instead of this course being held in a lecture hall, the students conceived the idea of Tour de CSR, where they cycle to different companies to engage with their representatives and receive insights into their CSR strategy.

The Tour de CSR lead the group of students to companies Deutsche Post DHL Group (Bonn), REWE Group (Cologne), PricewaterhouseCoopers, Fortuna Düsseldorf, C&A (Düsseldorf), Impact Hub Ruhr (Essen) and Barmer (Wuppertal).

For further information, please contact Marius Mertens.

Photo by Holger Willing

Most companies, organisations, entrepreneurs, and politicians work in ‘regular’ office spaces situated in ‘regular’ buildings. What would happen if they had an opportunity to switch their workplace to a shipping container for a few weeks? This is now a reality with the launch of the Expedition: Space Station (“Expedition: Raumstation”) in Utopiastadt, Wuppertal – a collaboration with Utopiastadt.

Utopiastadt has been offering workspaces to various enterprises such as businesses and voluntary work in the Wuppertal Nordbahntrasse. Between July and October, 2019 organisations have the opportunity to test their business ideas in the newly set up “Expedition: Space Station” shipping containers. These containers are an open laboratory module which can be rented for 1 Euro for a period of up to four weeks.

The “Expedition: Space Station” is being implemented by the Utopiastadt as a practical partner within the framework of Urban Up, a joint project of the Wuppertal Institute, the University of Wuppertal and the CSCP. The project is located at TransZent (the Centre for Transformation Research and Sustainability) which was founded by the Wuppertal Institute and the University of Wuppertal.

The shipping containers are located in the Nordbahntrasse, which is Wuppertals bike highway in a former train station. Utopiastadt also has a repair café, free bike rental, open workshop space, community garden, co-working space, a café as well as a concert location with a lot of free space surrounding it. Here, everything is shared and everyone is welcome to be part of it.

This summer a new area outside the former train station, Mirker Bahnhof, is being used to provide space to several actors and initiatives. Shipping containers will be the temporary home for a free cargo bike rental, an aquaponics farm, a caterer and others.

Out of these, two containers are rented by Urban Up and can be used by organisations and companies who want to create real impact in this unique environment and experiment with their way of doing business and work. Those interested in using this setting as a testing bed for new ideas can apply to work in these containers.

Additional information about the application process can be found here.

The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as a junior research group within the framework of social-ecological research.

Please contact Alexandra Kessler for more information.

Looking for new and insightful approaches to enable change towards the circular behaviours that really matter? Today is your chance to express your interest to become a club member of the Consumer Insight Action Panel.

EU policies and decision-makers have recognised the importance of understanding and integrating consumer knowledge and behavioural insights into the circular economy transition. Despite the importance of consumer insights, there is little research or action on behaviour change with specific regard to the circular economy, and the need to consider behavioural and consumption aspects is still largely overlooked within circular strategies.

To address this gap, the CSCP, Sitra and Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (DBU) are setting up the Consumer Insight Action Panel, as part of their contribution to the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform Coordination Group a joint initiative by the European Commission and the European Economic and Social Committee. The objective of the Consumer Insight Action Panel is to translate consumer needs and behavioural knowledge with specific regard to the circular economy in Europe into impact-oriented and consumer-relevant policy recommendations, business innovations and civil society actions towards the circular economy. In other words, our main objective is to enable change towards circular behaviours that really matter.

This new European initiative is designed to support the transition to the circular economy by generating, applying and testing consumer behavioural insights in circular strategies for textiles, plastics and electronics. The Expression of Interest is now open and 30 organisations will be selected to join the initiative.

The work will be carried out in clubs, which are exclusive groups of high-level stakeholders committed to leading the work of generating and integrating consumer behavioural insights into successful circular economy strategies. Each club will be sector-focused and composed of max. 10 members, including businesses, policy makers, NGOs, researchers and cities, dedicated to exchange knowledge, benchmark existing solutions, prototype and test innovations and lead the circular consumer interface work. The sectors of focus will be textiles, electronics and plastics. You can find more details about the Consumer Insight Action Panel here.

Due to the limited number of spaces in the initiative, club members will be selected through an open Expression of Interest process, to ensure a fair, transparent and high-quality selection procedure. Are you interested in joining an exclusive group of pioneering stakeholders driving behavioural knowledge and behaviour change towards the circular economy transition in Europe? Are you keen to have access to beyond state-of-the-art knowledge on behavioural insights and behaviour change in view of your concrete circular economy challenges? Interested in contributing to the development and improvement of circular policies, business innovation and CSO initiatives? Express your interest now, we are looking forward to working with you. Expressions of Interest can be sent until 30 September 2019.

The Consumer Insight Action Panel is a non-profit initiative led by the CSCP and funded by Sitra and DBU, in partnership with the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform.

Send your Expression of Interest here.

For more information please contact Mariana Nicolau.

How will climate change, digitalisation, blockchain and new work concepts affect your company? Can you implement digitalisation and sustainability in your company activities? Our conference on Digital Transformation and Sustainability: next steps for your company will answer these questions with practical examples, interactive workshop formats along with ideas for the future of your organisation.

In the one-day event, we will show you the potential of the two topics – sustainability and digitalisation, with practical examples. Through keynote speeches, workshops and discussions we will highlight opportunities and challenges, while helping you come up with concrete ideas on how your company can benefit from these megatrends. We will also address questions on what large and small companies can learn from each other with insights from our R2Pi Project.

The following topics will be covered in the conference :

Conference: Digital Transformation and Sustainability: Next Steps for Your Company
Date: 10 October 2019
Time: 10:00 to 17:00
Location: VillaMedia Gastronomie GmbH, Viehhofstrasse 125, 42117 Wuppertal

This conference is organised by the Competence Centre eStandards (Mittelstand 4.0 Kompetenzzentrum eStandards)and is primarily tailored towards decision-makers in SMEs. The conference will be conducted in German.

Click here to register.

Registrations are open until 02.10.2019

For further information contact Patrik Eisenhauer

 

In June, the Competence Centre eStandards completed two years of actively engaging in guiding German small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) towards sustainable digital business models. During this time, the CSCP conducted pilot projects, develop hands-on tools and provide comprehensive curricula to SMEs on creating future-proof companies through digitalisation.

“Mittelstand 4.0 Kompetenzzentrum eStandards” introduces digitalisation and standardisation to German small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It is an initiative of Mittelstand-Digital, which is a part of the digitalisation strategy put forward by the German Federal Ministry for Economic and Energy Affairs (BMWi). The CSCP is part of the Competence Centre eStandards, where we conduct digitalisation projects with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with a strong focus on enabling sustainable business practices, such as circular economy approaches or digital sustainable supply chains.

The CSCP is especially proud of the pilot projects with FOND OF, migori and TENETRIO.

Together with FOND OF, we developed the roadmap towards a circular business model for backpacks and bags. The company intends to keep its materials and raw materials longer in the economic cycle, thus contributing to the product’s added value.

In collaboration with migori, we developed a digital customer communication solutions for packaging-free shopping. Through this solution, customers can access all product information which is usually printed on the packaging.

TENETRIO is a start-up that offers insect-based nutrition which is resource-optimised and sustainable food for dogs. We supported the firm in enabling optimal availability of their products through consistent tracking of stock movements and the implementation of eStandards.

Other impacts of this project in the last two years:

For further information, contact Patrik Eisenhauer.