Circular City Challenge-bringing the circular economy into the cities

The Circular City Challenge aimed to connect promising innovations for the circular economy with the needs of cities.As part of the Circular City Challenge, we crowdsourced circular solutions to city needs.


Circular Berlin


Circular Munich, Circonnact, Materialkreislauf, diverse Promotional and Jury Partners


November 2021 – June 2022

The challenge

Cities are at the heart of the problem, being the main drivers of consumption and therefore increasing the extraction rate of the earth’s limited resources. By 2050 close to 70% of the world’s population will live in cities. Cities emit 70% of greenhouse gas emissions and account for 50% of global waste production. Yet, they are hubs of creativity and innovation, where the most radical of ideas can be explored and implemented.

The Circular City Challenge called on innovators of the Circular Economy to find answers to the challenges of the transformation to a circular urban system.

Our approach

We looked for innovators who are motivated to help shape the local transition to a Circular Economy; be it local organisations, entrepreneurs or companies. Together with the partners Circular Munich, Materialkreislauf and Circonnact, the key focus of action was in Berlin, Munich, Stuttgart and Vienna. With our project, we hope to establish the connection between the districts, topics and actors of the Circular Economy. These cities have formed an alliance of local representatives who will support the innovators in applying their ideas whilst adapting them to the cities’ needs, among them were: Nochmall, Quartiersmanagement Auguste-Viktoria-Allee, Urban Tech Republic Berlin TXL, Bezirksamt Spandau and ​​Bezirksamt Treptow Köpenick, Stadtmanufaktur, B-Part am Gleisdreieck, WISTA,  Stabsstelle Klimaschutz in Stuttgart, Wirtschaftsförderung Region Stuttgart, DoTank Circular City 2020-2030 (Stadt Wien), WieNeu+ (Stadterneuerungsprogramm, MA25), Bezirksamt Josefstadt, Agenda Josefstadt, Zukunftshaus, die HauswirtschaftGemeinde NeuriedGemeinde Schäftlarn, Gemeinde Straßlach-Dingharting, and Quartiersprojekt Olytopia.

We recruited innovative solutions at any stage of development, from implementation concepts to prototypes, to new businesses, project consortiums, as well as service providers –  all with the potential to transition from a linear to a circular economy to create thriving circular cities. The participant’s projects needed to address at least one of the four key challenges of the Circular City Challenge:  

  • Resource management – tracking product and material flows, supporting local resource loops between different actors.
  • Digital technologies – digital solutions that extend the life of materials, such as platforms that facilitate product-as-a-service or leasing models.
  • System infrastructure – developing infrastructure where materials and resources can be recovered in a convenient and user-friendly way to keep them in the loop – both at the end consumer and business level.
  • Consumption and awareness – raising consumer awareness of circular economy solutions in the city and circular economy solutions for vibrant and sustainable neighborhoods.

The applications we received were very diverse and offered a wide range of solutions from different parts of the world. Out of 130 applications, 72 were filtered, pre-selected and then made it to the Evaluation phase conducted by the jury.   For each project submitted, our jury evaluated to what extent it addressed the challenges of the Circular City Challenge: 1) Relevance 2) Circularity 3) Impact 4) Readiness for implementation.

The outcomes

Based on their evaluation, we selected the 18 best-rated projects and invited them to an individual live pitch session.Through our Pitch session, 20 jury members from 4 cities selected 8 finalists being the most promising for the transformation towards a circular economy in the urban context.

The finalists of the Circular City Challenge 2022 were Hempstatic, LaborTempelhof, FLORIS Catering, Faircup, WeitergebenOrg, Concular Urban Hubs, Sleepify, FarmNow.

The four organizers of the Circular City Challenge supported the eight finalists through promotionand through cooperation with Circle Economy in a Knowledge Hub. Finalists and Semi Finalists were also invited to participate in two events in Vienna and Berlin.

Further steps

The selected finalists also had the opportunity to work on the implementation of their project together with the partners of the jury. The finalists could receive active support if they chose to, in implementing their solutions, and they also had the opportunity of becoming part of an incubator program of one of our partners.

Objective is to create an established format, conducted at least once every two year.

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Project contact person


Dina Padalkina

Founder & CEO, City & Built Environment Lead

Email | LinkedIn