ASU’s Resource Innovations and Solutions Network boosts local eco-friendly startups

This past January, Arizona State University and the City of Phoenix teamed up for an open call to eco-friendly startups for their circular economy incubator. The joint effort between the city and the university was implemented to improve Phoenix’s processing and management of waste as a raw material. They took in a number of submissions before narrowing it down to 13, and now have announced their four selections to be included in the incubator.

The projects include creating a group to research and develop technology solutions that speak to environmental challenges facing the Greater Phoenix area. Other ideas range from bringing recycling to areas where it isn’t readily accessible to finding ways to reuse eggshells. The projects are varied, but all related to one major goal: the three R’s—reduce, reuse, recycle.

The Resource Innovations and Solutions Network offers help to projects currently in development. It pairs the people behind the individual projects with mentors to guide them through expansion and introduce them to industry stakeholders as well as access to technical experts.

“It’s a niche business accelerator for entrepreneurs in the early stages of waste-to-product innovations with the goal of helping move circular economy forward in the Phoenix area,” said Alicia Marseille, director of the RISN incubator at ASU, in a statement. “The RISN incubator offers ventures an opportunity to rapidly scale and transform your startup into a vehicle to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges. [It] helps ventures test their concepts, build their company and scale to market.”

Selected ventures do not have to submit a fee to apply or join the program. There’s a two- to three-day immersion program following their acceptance in downtown Phoenix where they will work with incubator staff and receive hands-on technical assistance in a variety of workshops. From there, the ventures will participate virtually over three months and work with mentors who give them metrics to complete during their term.

The four ventures picked for this round are:

FLI Right LLC: A zero-waste project founded by aerospace and defense industry professionals

rePurpose: A web platform that enables individuals to go plastic neutral

Scrappy & Scraps Pet Treats: A dog treat startup that harvests eggshells from local restaurants and hotels

Recyclops: A recycling startup that hires independent contractors with pickup trucks to pick up recycling based on GPS smart routing.

One goal for the incubator project is to create a pipeline of entrepreneurs in the waste-to-product innovation environment. RISN is operated through the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Service at ASU. It launched in 2014 and has helped 13 companies raise nearly $3 million in capital and more than $4 million in generated revenue at this point. Also, 43 full-time professional roles and 43 internships have been created as part of the incubator.

Overall, the city of Phoenix is looking forward to a healthier and more sustainable environment that reduces the need for landfills and the financial resources needed to run them.

Nick Esquer

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