Less use of resources, more recycling, less waste, more reuse: "We have the potential to make Münsterland a circular economy region," emphasises Bernd Büdding, head of the Enabling Networks Münsterland project. Two Münsterland think tanks are currently working on how this vision can become reality. In their third meeting, the think tanks "On the Way to a Circular Economy" and "Environmentally Neutral Materials of the Future" now developed ideas and impulses on how Münsterland can become a pioneer in sustainability and resource conservation.
"The know-how for this is available in the region, both in the companies and in the scientific institutions and networks," emphasised Klaus Ehling, Chairman of Münsterland e.V. "Now we have to join forces to make innovation and progress possible." The Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI presented the areas with particular potential during the think tank meetings. The institute had conducted a foresight analysis in advance and now reported on relevant technologies in the next five to ten years from the field of circular economy.
The think tank participants received even more input on the topic from Dr. Carsten Gerhardt, partner at A.T. Kearney, who presented his idea of a "Circular Valley" - a region analogous to Silicon Valley with special expertise in the circular economy. In his view, Münsterland could also play a major role in this.
The members of the think tank "On the Way to the Circular Economy" identified the topic of "Regional Material Cycles" in particular as a starting point for the region from the foresight analysis. For example, energy supply or waste disposal are mostly in municipal hands and can thus be more easily integrated into local cycles. According to the think tank participants, there is also a lot of potential for the region in the areas of material-saving construction methods or sustainable building materials. It is important to always involve the population and, for example, to raise public awareness of the topic with lighthouse projects. In addition, political guidelines must increasingly demand sustainability, recycling and resource conservation.
The think tank "Environmentally Neutral Materials of the Future" produced similar results. Here, the focus was on new materials and chemical compounds, which particularly concern the handling of polymers. For example, there are interesting new substitute materials to build sustainably - for example, from mushroom mycelium, the root system of fungi. So the participants came to a similar conclusion as the other think tank: in their opinion, the topic of circular economy could play a central role in the region - also because the competences on both the entrepreneurial and the scientific side are available in Münsterland. Accordingly, large-scale cooperative projects with a high public profile could contribute to advancing these strengths.
One concrete result of the think tanks on the topic of the circular economy is the development of the X-Lives initiative, whose goal is to develop innovative and sustainable materials with a research project. Companies and scientific institutions that would like to actively participate in the initiative can currently register. More information is available at www.oberflaeche-nrw.de/de/news-de/x-lives-sustainable-use-of-materials. Further cooperation projects are in the pipeline.
In June 2021, the three other think tanks "Digital Münsterland", "The road to networked production" and "Staying healthy - for life" will meet for their third round. The fourth exchange is planned for the second half of the year.
An overview of all think tanks and their members is available at muensterland.com/enabling.
For further information, please contact project manager Bernd Büdding, firstname.lastname@example.org, 02571 949327.
As a regional network initiative and successor project to Enabling Innovation Münsterland, Enabling Networks Münsterland has been supporting companies and universities in Münsterland to develop innovations, implement them and find the right partners for the project since the project launch in September 2019. The project consists of two packages of measures: The second component, in addition to the think tanks, is technology scouting. This involves the creation of five technology scouts who support companies in the development of new innovations.
The project network with Münsterland e.V. as lead partner consists of the business development agencies of the Münsterland districts and the Münster Technology Promotion Agency as well as the transfer offices of the regional universities and five specialised institutions that promote innovations in their sectors. The project is funded by the European Union and the NRW Ministry of Economics as part of the ERDF call "Regio.NRW".