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Circular Innovation Challenge 2021: A Pitch Competition for Best Waste-to-Market Manufactured Product Idea

Monday, April 5, 2021 | News Release, Grants, Growth and Innovation

Circular Innovation Challenge

Circular Innovation Challenge 2021: a virtual pitch competition for the best-manufactured product idea using ‘waste’ or recycled materials.

Awards include a $10,000 cash prize, mentorship, and access to investors. Applications are open now through April 23rd! Ideas in any stage of development are welcome! Finalists will pitch their product idea at a LIVE event on Wednesday, June 23rd, 4:00 - 6:30 pm PT. 

This program is in partnership with the City of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development and made possible by a grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology.

Seattle Good Business Network's Inspiration for the 2021 Circular Innovation Challenge

The Circular Innovation Challenge pulls inspiration from many spaces, innovators, and in our City’s collaborative vision for transitioning from a linear, extractive economy, to a more circular and regenerative one.

Seattle Good Business Network works with over 1,000 regionally based businesses, urban manufacturers, and producers who all share missions to do “GOOD” for our communities, environment, and economy. Through this event, Seattle Good Business Network hopes to create a new resource and opportunity for the greater community in producing innovative solutions to our waste and hard to recycle material challenges.

Why Local Manufacturing:

If what we buy locally isn’t also produced locally when possible, we cut far short the positive local impact of our purchasing. Producing more here also creates a more diverse job base. Plus, the more we provide for ourselves, the less reliant we’ll be on uncertain global systems, and the better buffered we’ll be from the disruptions of climate change. From food and energy to materials and consumer products, there are thousands of opportunities to responsibly produce more here, creating meaningful, durable livelihoods and a more resilient local economy. (Learn more about Seattle Made, our program to support urban manufacturers and producers.)

If we’re buying and producing locally, but not investing in the stability and growth of those enterprises, we starve our economy and ourselves. Seattlites hold approximately $70 billion in long-term savings, almost none of which is invested in locally owned enterprises, despite the fact that those enterprises make up nearly 50% of our economy. Imagine the positive impact of shifting even a small percentage of that investment into the place we call home, rather than Wall Street. Community Capital is the growing movement to correct this imbalance and to ensure that we all have the opportunity to be invested in our local economy.

Important Dates:

  • 4/23 Application Portal for Business/Pitch Ideas close at 11:59 pm PST
  • 4/23-4/30 Judging Panel reviews applications and selects Pitch Finalists
  • 4/30 Pitch Finalists are publicly announced 
  • 5/4 Pitch Finalist Program begins  
  • 6/23 LIVE pitch event/announcement of the winner(s)

How to Apply:

Are you an entrepreneur, business, or student with an innovative idea for a manufactured product from ‘waste’ or recycled materials? Apply to our pitch competition to win $10,000, mentorship, and access to investors for the best product idea.

You can download the application or apply online – whichever is easiest for you!

We are also looking for the following - and would really love your participation in whatever way fits best.

Pitch Finalist Program:

Pitch Finalists will have the opportunity to participate in a strategic program of workshops and 1:1 mentorship assistance as you develop and refine your product idea, business plan, and competition pitch.11

  1. Pitch Finalist Orientation on 5/4 10:00-11:30 AM PT
  2. Weekly workshops (90-120 minutes) that are geared towards helping Finalists refine and develop their pitch ideas (details coming soon)
  3. Receive guidance and resources to develop the final pitch
  4. Attend the LIVE event on 6/23 4-6:30 PM and be available to engage in a short Q&A session with the audience

Other Ways to Get Involved in the Challenge:

Not a manufacturer?  Here are some ways Seattle Good Business Network is asking others to get involved in the Innovation Challenge:

MENTORS: Looking for mentors (with a background in a circular economy, business development, supply chain logistics, financial modeling, and more) to help guide our cohort of up to eight Pitch Finalists through a strategic seven-week program of workshops and 1:1 assistance as they develop and refine their product idea, business plan, and competition pitch. Click here to learn more about being a mentor. We’re also still looking for JUDGES, so if that is of interest, please let me know.

SPONSORS: Looking for sponsors to help make this opportunity accessible to applicants across WA State and meaningful to the Pitch Competition winner(s) to help bring their innovative product idea to market. In addition to the sponsor levels outlined, we welcome new ideas and are open to discussing customized sponsorship packages. Click here to learn more about sponsorship opportunities. 

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