The Catalysts project – a project that focuses on youth professionals and students as the driving force in the transition into circular economy - is showing promising results.
Matching students with industry challenges
One of the aims of the Catalysts project is to accelerate the circular economy transition by matching resources and expertise from youth with concrete innovation challenges from the industry in order to develop circular solutions and at the same time train youth to become circular change makers.
Young professionals can support the transition to circular economy by contributing with innovative solutions and ideas that support the change– Hanna Törmänen, Innovation Advisor, Nordic Innovation
Partners from the industry were successfully included in the project. A total of 21 companies contributed with innovation challenges to universities across the consortium and a total of 33 projects were carried out matching students with innovation challenges. In return, the companies received input from students on how to accelerate their transition into circular economy.
During its first year, more than 500 students were engaged in the Catalysts project through 6 Bachelor programs and 27 Master theses. Catalysts also participated in the education of students on circular economy topics. Circular economy cases were integrated at 2 Bachelor and 3 Master courses within Product Sustainability, Mechanical Engineering and Circular Manufacturing Systems within the Nordics.
Youth as Circular Change Makers
An important aspect of the project is to teach youth how to share their knowledge and expertise on circular economy and to push the transition forward. To foster new Circular Change Makers, two train-the-trainer workshops were created with the aim of teaching students about circular economy design tools as well as to teach them on how to pass on this information to fellow students and young professionals. Students participating in train-the-trainer courses became certified Circular Economy Champions.
Catalysts is the first Nordic project that focuses on young people in circular economy.– Marthe Haugland, Senior Innovation Advisor, Nordic Innovation
A Nordic Change Makers community was also established to connect young professionals, students and researchers across the Nordics to share their knowledge and passion about circular economy.
Catalyst also contributed to the Nordic Circular Summit 2021, by ensuring that youth voices were included in all sessions and that the youth perspective was an integral part of the Summit.
In June, the project partners will host an event at Folkemødet – the yearly political festival in Denmark - where they will discuss the role of youth in driving the Nordic circular agenda forward.
The Nordic Prime Ministers have decided on a new vision for Nordic cooperation. The Nordic countries are to become the most integrated, sustainable region in the world by 2030, emphasizing green (circular and biobased), competitive and socially inclusive societies. The Nordic countries have the strongholds needed to be frontrunners in the circular economy. However, there are still issues to resolve in order to reach the climate targets and Sustainable Development Goals, especially number 12 (Sustainable production and consumption) and 13 (Climate Change).
The call the project was funded under, was designed to enable cooperation actions that can turn strategies into concrete solutions to help reduce the CO2 footprint, reduce and optimize material use, promote innovations and implement new business models. The call for proposals addressed two of the four action areas that currently make up Nordic Innovation’s Nordic Sustainable Business Transformation program.