The Start Circular project (2021-2024) – funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the EU and coordinated by University of Montpellier and a consortium of universities and SMEs in Spain, France, Latvia and Slovenia – aims at merging two key topics in Europe: Preparing entrepreneurial graduates to work for and develop sustainable businesses and reinforcing university-SME collaboration in teaching, learning and training to this effect. To create green jobs, Europe has to invest in a regenerative approach which contrasts with the traditional linear economy. Start Circular is premised on the fact that this transition is dependent on robust higher education systems that generate leaders and entrepreneurs in this field, in collaboration with industry and NGOs.
The objectives of the project are thus:
- To develop an Integrated Entrepreneurship Management Model that is premised on circular economy, implemented by universities and SMEs in partnership, so as to enhance skill development and job creation related to circular economy principles.
- To apply this model in universities of diverse capacities and needs in Europe, as a means to increase the number of graduates that are prepared to become entrepreneurs or future leaders in circular economy.
- As part of its application, to train both university teaching and admin staff and SME staff on the co-development of study programmes and Work-Integrated Learning approaches related to circular economy.
- To set-up, connect and internationalise ‘Sustainability Labs’ at the partner universities, to help/train students and young graduates in developing businesses that integrate circular economy and co-responsibility.
On May 9-10, 2022 the official Launch of the Meeting back to back with the first Study Visit took place at the University of Montpellier, coordinator of the START Circular Project.
The aim of the meeting, which was held in a hibrid format, allowed participants to meet each other for the first time. Though the project had organised an unformal online Kick-off meeting on 8th of December, 2021.
During this official launch, that was held back to back to the site visit to the Sustainability lab of the University of Montpellier, Members of Montpellier and OBREAL Global presented the project and the action plan for the first year as well as the financial rules of the project. It was agreed that each academic partner, in cooperation with the SME would held a focus group at his institution, based on a draft of the entrepreneurship Management Model. The results are expected to be available in September.
The second day was dedicacted to visit the Sustainability Lab and the incubators at the University of Montpellier. These visits were accompanied by a presentation of the City council on Montpellier´s policy with regards to entrepreneurship and Circular economy, as well as by some presentation of academic staff on study programms related to the topic.