COIL Circulate CoLab Challenge

Calling all supply chain innovators!

Get $20K to prototype your circular innovation. Get $100K to scale it up!

Applications for Challenge #1 now closed. Stay tuned for updates on the winners!

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 and environment 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.  Each challenge will focus on a different segment of the supply chain in either the food or environment sectors.

We are looking for teams of three to seven 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 Challenge #1 closed on October 22, 2021.

Circulate CoLab Challenge #1: Connecting the chain – Increasing circularity in upstream food systems

This challenge focuses on the components of the food system between production and consumption: processing and manufacturing, distribution and foodservice, grocery and hospitality. Sixty-one per cent of the food produced in Canada is lost or wasted along these three segments.

We want to know if you have a:

  • Waste-reduction idea that will improve the current Canadian food system
  • Food-loss prevention innovation that will provide a long-term benefit
  • New use for the excess, lost or wasted organic material along your supply chain
  • Better way to connect those who have food waste with those who can use it
  • New process to make recyclable packaging using organic matter that would otherwise go to waste
  • New process or technology that improves food use predictability in large institutions

How can your team work with new technologies, partners, business models or processes to reduce avoidable food waste and/or generate new value or products from organic materials (i.e. unavoidable food waste, byproducts/co-products) that would otherwise be end-of-life?

Applications for Challenge #1 closed October 22, 2021. Stay tuned for updates on the winners. 

Challenge #1 CoLab process will take place between November 15, 2021 to January 28, 2022.

How does it work?

Icon chart showing CoLab Process. First Apply - teams of 3-7 companies; Second CoLab, Top three teams selected; Prototype - $20,000 / 12 weeks to prototyp solution; Pitch - Pitch solution to expert committee; Semonstration project: at least one team gets $100,000 to scale to full demonstration project

Apply: Teams of 3-7 companies.

CoLab: Top 3 teams selected.

Prototype: $20K / 12 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?

Thinking of applying?

Curious if this would work for your organization or supply chain?


Get in touch with our team!

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