Residual flows SMEs spark innovation in the Euroregion
HASSELT – On 25 May, Wanderful.stream will present IMPACT in MECC Maastricht. A final conclusion of the three-year INTERREG Euregion Meuse-Rhine project in which SMEs are guided to circular innovation starting from their own waste streams. With the help of more than 50 experts in design, technology and business development, companies such as Bioracer, BelOrta, Diresco, Veldeman Bedding and Indera came up with innovative circular solutions with far-reaching impact. You will discover it on 25 May during Wanderful.stream IMPACT.
Circularity is a global ambition and borders should play no role in it, that much is clear. “With the Green Deal, Europe has resolutely set its course towards a carbon-neutral, ecologically sustainable, toxin-free and fully circular economy. Thanks to concrete projects like Wanderful.stream, we are giving a unique incentive to entrepreneurs to start thinking more circularly,” says Gesa Remmert, the proud Project Manager Interreg EMR. “In Wanderful.stream, partners from Dutch and Belgian Limburg and Wallonia reached out to each other in terms of design, technological research and business development. In inter-disciplinary teams, they looked at residue streams from small and medium-sized companies in the Euregion and that led to unique results.”
Wanderful.stream IMPACT will compile the results of the innovation trajectories with the most impact on 25 May. “In total, Wanderful.stream has guided 24 different companies in the Euregion, but these circular innovations are not purely limited to these SMEs,” adds Tom Vandeput, Provincial Commissioner for Economy, Innovation and European Affairs of the Province of Limburg. “The insights on Design Thinking and circular economy gathered by the team over the three years are unmissable lessons for all entrepreneurs and enterprises. Putting your own waste stream under the microscope and then making it the subject of a circular and innovative solution or new product? That is where you really make a difference. We are proud that we can encourage this in Limburg and the Euregion.”
The 24 innovation projects that Wanderful. stream developed over the past three years include solutions around paper streams (Bioracer, BelOrta, Pacarbel, Ahlstrom,… ), textiles (Layniel, Recytex, Arion, FashionPower), wood (BelOrta, Veldeman Bedding in collaboration with Indera, Houthandel Vanhove), but also special materials such as grinding waste from composites (Diresco), coffee grounds (Charles Liègois), glass fibres (3B Fibreglass) and even safety shoes (Emma Safetyshoes).
These small and medium-sized enterprises each went through a process lasting about six months. Each time, a team of experts was put together in function of the residual flow, teams consisting of a designer, a business developer backed by technological expert(s) from, among others, the research partner UCLL Research & Development. “Cross-border cooperation between regions and disciplines was the aim of Wanderful.stream from the outset,” says Sara Gilissen (UCLL University of Applied Sciences), project manager of Wanderful.stream.
“Knowing that this Interreg project started at the time of the Corona pandemic, it is wonderful to see how, with so much creativity and vigour, we have been able to make the Euroregional cooperation a reality. In those three years, we have done so much more around circular economy and groundbreaking collaborations than 24 innovation projects with SMEs.”
Sara Gilissen refers to the collaborations with educational institutions and projects with schoolchildren and college students each time with a residual stream as a starting point. It is to Wanderful.stream’s credit that in three years it has succeeded in making around a hundred Euregional entrepreneurs and companies more aware of the existence of residue streams and the social duty to do more with them.
It is not the valorisation of residual streams that creates the big impact, but the rationalisation of own processes and the use of raw materials. “
“Circular thinking changes everything and all the more so if you involve different disciplines in it,” concludes Gesa Remmert, Project Manager Interreg EMR, “we still have an awful lot to learn from nature, from each other, from other entrepreneurs or inspiring keynote speakers. I am therefore very much looking forward to the closing session of Wanderful.stream on 25 May in MECC Maastricht.”
Wanderful.stream brings together the results of the 3-year Interreg Euregio Meuse-Rhine on 25 May in MECC Maastricht. The impact of the innovation tracks in particular, but also the cooperation between partners in education, design (culture) and economy in general. This is the culmination of a unique interaction between scientists and researchers from UCLL University to (chemical) innovation experts from the Dutch Chemelot Innovation and Learning Labs, business developers from organisations such as POM Limburg and EKLO in Wallonia to design expertise from Design Wallonie, Discovery Museum and Z33 House for Contemporary Art, Design and Architecture.