Resource, a project whose objective is to obtain private investment of all kinds over the next three years to finance circular economy business projects, using Aragon as a test bed, has been underway since last July.
Resource is funded by the Horizon Europe program and led by the Department of Economy, Planning and Employment, through CEEIARAGÓN (Business and Innovation Center of Aragon) and the Directorate General of Planning and Economic Development. It is made up of seven partners (three of them from Aragon): the technology center Aitiip, the National Association of CEEIs (ANCES), University of Leiden (Netherlands), G.A.C. (France) and EBN (Belgium), as well as CEEI and the Directorate General for Planning of the Department of Economy.
Celia García Anzano, director of CEEIARAGÓN explains that for Aragon and for the center she directs, leading this project is “a very important boost to the whole Aragon Circular Aragon Strategy that already launched the Department of Economy of the Government of Aragon in January 2020 Aragon Circular. Without it and without that previous ecosystem that has already been created, it would not have been possible for a project like Resource to emerge, in which Aragon is going to be the test bed for financing circular economy business projects so that this can then be replicated in other European regions.”
“We think that for Aragon it is a very important opportunity both for the funds we receive and for the business projects for which we are going to help get that private funding,” says the director of CEEIARAGÓN.
The project has a budget of approximately two million euros and 36 months of work ahead of it, which began with a meeting held in July attended in person by members of all the consortium’s entities, which together cover the entire value chain (public administration, intermediary organizations, research and investment) and have a strong European dimension. In addition, members of the European Commission and the Coordination and Support Office of the Circular Cities and Regions initiative (CCRI-PDA) participated online. “The working atmosphere at that first meeting was very good and it was very productive. Concrete issues were addressed, each partner presented their work packages and we moved from theory to practice,” highlights Garcia.
Thanks to the work of all the partners involved, the RESOURCE project will allow reinventing new innovative financing schemes that are operational and ready to finance circular economy investments at local and regional level. In this sense, it is estimated that this project will be able to leverage around 20 million euros of funding for circular economy initiatives, demonstrating solutions to finance innovative and replicable investments in other European regions.
A unique project
The director of CEEIARAGON. maintains that “the fact that Resource is a project aimed at obtaining private funding is quite unique. That is, they are European funds that are intended to obtain private funding for business projects, to boost not only the projects themselves, which is important, but that these get funding that does not come from Europe but from the ecosystem itself.
García also emphasizes that “we have been included as a project in the European Commission’s Circular Cities and Regions initiative. This is also important because Aragon is positioning itself internationally as a circular region”.
Resource step by step
Currently, as Celia García explains, “the projects are already being identified because, thanks to the expressions of interest that were launched by the Government of Aragon in 2020 to see how the circular economy sector was in the Aragonese company, at that time 90 projects were identified and 17 of them already obtained funding in the different calls that were emerging for R&D for the circular economy and now there is another pending resolution that was published this summer”. García emphasizes that the task ahead of Resource now is to detect “among this amalgam that we already have, the nine projects that may be eligible to receive this funding”.
Currently, in this first phase, a mapping of all the actors in the region is being carried out with a series of surveys. García says that the next step will consist of “a technical team formed by the different partners of the consortium, will assess the legal, technical and business aspects, which is where CEEI has a more important role, to see which are the nine pilots that will go on to obtain this private financing”.
Subsequently, work will be done with investors and then “we will work together with the projects and investors to achieve that match, that fit between one and the other and that this funding reaches the projects,” said Garcia.
“In the last phase, all this work can be replicated in the different territories because we will already have a working model implemented, tested and we will know at that time that it works after these years of work,” adds the director of CEEIARAGÓN.
García highlights the role of the Government of Aragón, specifically the Department of Economy, Planning and Employment and the Directorate General of Planning and Economic Development “both for the promotion of the Aragón Circular Strategy, without which it would not have been possible for this project to go ahead” and for its participation as a partner: “In this first phase of mapping and detection they have a fundamental role”.
The circular economy: a very present future
For García, the circular economy is no longer the future but the present because “it is on the agendas, on the Aragonese agenda with the Aragón Circular Strategy, on the Spanish agenda with the Spain Circular 2030 strategy and Europe is already allocating funds to it”.
He assures that “there is a roadmap already marked in Europe so that all our productive fabric is both digitizing and becoming circular, changing our whole productive model”. In fact, “it is an imperative, a necessity, it is not something we can choose. We can be proud because in Aragon companies are doing an important job and we can see it. There is a real interest and commitment on the part of the business fabric to make this change”.
It should also be remembered that promoting the circular economy is one of the objectives of the Aragonese Plan to Promote the Social Economy 2022-2025.
The circular economy as a business niche
The circular economy will be the focus of an event organized by the Department of Economy on September 21. Registration is already open for this free day to be held at the CEEI headquarters in Zaragoza with entrepreneurs, companies, organizations and investors. “It is aimed primarily at companies, business projects of an innovative nature that are in the field of circular economy and have projects related to circular economy. We want it to be a very practical day,” says Celia García.