COIL Circulate CoLab Challenge

Supply chain dashboard showing several digital key performance indicators

Circulate CoLab

By 2024, COIL will fund five industrial-scale circular economy demonstration projects in the  food, environment and construction, renovation & demolition sectors. We’re looking for projects that create new circular collaborations between organizations and that test, prove and demonstrate innovative, circular supply chain models capable of transforming an industry, or even creating new ones.

To find projects capable of disrupting the status quo, COIL is holding three Circulate CoLab challenges.

We are looking for teams of 2-5 companies or organizations to propose ideas for how they would work together to reduce waste and emissions, increase productivity and shift a typically linear business model toward a circular approach that’s environmentally and financially sustainable over the long term

Applications for Circulate CoLab 3 are now closed. Stay tuned for future cohort announcements. 

Circulate CoLab Challenge #3: Circular by Design

We are interested in working with teams of companies / organizations to prototype ideas in a wide range of areas in the food, environment and construction, renovation and demolition (CRD) sectors. For instance:

  • Waste-reduction idea that will improve the current Canadian food, environment or CRD systems
  • Material loss prevention innovations that will provide long-term benefit
  • Approaches to turn waste into new products or services
  • New use for the excess, lost or wasted organic material along your supply chain
  • A better way to connect those who have waste materials  or by-products with those who can use it
  • Neew approches to make or deploy reusable or compostable packaging
  • New designs or products that reduce packaging and/or eliminates plastics from packaging and transporation
  • New process or technology that improve food or material use predictability in large institutions

Applications for Circulate CoLab Challenge #3 have now closed.


Program Overview

  • Teams of at least 2-5 businesses or organizations apply with a circular prototype proposal that has the potential to scale if successful.
  • Successful teams recieve $20,000 in funding to prototype their idea.
  • 16 weeks of support to implement the prototype
  • 6 hours of one-on-one mentorship with Innovation Guelph
  • Direct access to the COIL circular economy ecosystem of experts and practitioners
  • Teams pitch their prototypes to a panel of COIL Advisory members for the chance to recieve an additional $100,000 to fund a year-long Demonstration pilot project

How does it work?

An iconchart showing the CoLab Process - first teams of 2-7 companies propose a prototype. Between 3-5 teams are selected and funded with $20,000 to building their prototype. Each prototype is pitched to a review panel. At least one team is selected to receive an additional $100,000 in funding.

Apply: Teams of 2-5 companies.

CoLab: Top 3-5 teams selected.

Prototype: $20K / 16 weeks to prototpe solution.

Pitch: Pitch solution to expert commitee.

Demonstration project: At least one team gets $100K to scale to full demonstration project by 2024.

From the applications received, three teams will be invited to participate in the Circulate CoLab, a twelve-week process that gives each team access to up to $20,000 in funding to research, test and prototype their idea along with support from mentors and circular economy experts across COIL’s Urban-Rural Test Bed.

 At the end of the twelve week process, teams will pitch their tested idea to our evaluation board for the potential to receive up to  $100,000 in additional project funding to scale their solution as one of five industrial-scale demonstration projects.

teams of companies

thousand dollars to prototype your idea

week CoLab process

thousand dollars to scale solution

flagship demonstration projects by 2024

Frequently asked questions

What are the eligibility requirements for the Circulate CoLab Challenge?

To be eligible for the COIL Circulate CoLab Challenge:

  • All teams must consist of at least three organizations that can work together in a supply chain
  • All teams must be led by a Canadian-owned company
  • The proposed project must be primarily located in southern Ontario

In addition, all teams must be available to participate in the CoLab process from November 2021 to January 2022. Beyond an initial launch meeting and bi-weekly check ins with COIL, the time committment for each participating organization will depend on the specifics of the proposed project and team structure. 

I have a great idea but I haven’t found two other partners who want to participate. Can I still submit an application?

To develop projects capable of reaching industrial scale, we require between three to seven businesses or not-for-profit organizations. If you have an idea, but are unable to find collaborators, please contact our COIL team ([email protected]) to see if we can help.

What if I operate a closed-loop supply chain already?

If you have a highly closed-loop supply chain that you want to innovate, please email us to discuss your project idea. Exceptions may be possible if there is strong potential for an interesting project with potential to scale. We may also be able to connect you with potential partners.

How do you define “industrial-scale” demonstration projects? Is this just aimed at large businesses or can groups of small businesses apply?

We are looking to help create solutions or business models that can scale to transform an industry or supply chain. We have loosely defined “industrial-scale” to mean projects that are able to realistically achieve at least five times the impact at scale they were able to demonstrate through the CoLab prototype. We hope and anticipate teams will include a mix of large, medium and small enterprises and/or not-for-profits. Teams of only small businesses can absolutely apply; however, small enterprises, like all participants, will need to demonstrate a realistic pathway to scale the impact of their CoLab prototype at least five times. 

What is the expected time commitment for organizations participating in the CoLab process?

Time commitments will depend on the nature of each project and structure of the project team and collaborators. Our CoLab will kick off with a one-day onboarding session which will establish the workplan for each team, including timelines for developing a project budget. Beyond the onboarding, COIL will coordinate regular one-hour calls with each team over the eight-week process.

How can the innovation challenge and demonstration project funds be used?

Our innovation challenge ($20,000) and demonstration project (up to $100,000) funds can be used only for eligible activities and costs, such as research, hiring consultants or experts, product creation and design, development or implementation of new technologies, purchasing of new equipment, labour, and many other categories. Each team will work with a COIL advisor to review their proposed expenditures and ensure they meet our eligibility criteria at the start of the process.

Are there requirements for matching contributions from project team members?

Participating organizations are not required to provide matching contributions. However, COIL aims to develop solutions that can be scaled and make a significant impact, and matching contributions can help broaden that impact. Therefore, our application form and final CoLab pitches ask for details on participant company contributions (cash and/or in kind), which may factor in project selection.

Can multinational companies participate or is this only for Canadian-owned companies?

Multinational companies can participate in project teams; however, project funding must be primarily directed to Canadian-owned firms. Please contact our COIL team  ([email protected]) if you have a specific scenario you’d like to discuss.

Who will own project intellectual property?

Participating businesses will own all IP coming out of COIL CoLab prototypes and demonstration projects. As these projects will be collaborations between multiple businesses, it will be the responsibility of those businesses to agree on which IP elements belong to each project participant.

Do projects or all project components need to be located in southern Ontario?

Projects must be primarily located in southern Ontario. While some project elements/collaborators across a supply chain may be located outside of Ontario, all project funding must be primarily spent for components in southern Ontario. Please contact our COIL team ([email protected])  if you have a specific scenario you would like to discuss.

Any questions?

Get in touch with our team!

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