The Nature-Accelerator - Ecostar
What do a jar of honey, a pile of dead trees and crunchy chips made of crickets have in common? They all represent elements of nature-based start-ups and projects developed through the Knowledge Alliance (KA) ECOSTAR. As so often, all began with someone thinking outside of the box with the wish to change. Alessandro Leonardi, ECOSTAR’s project developer and coordinator, remembers:
“Like any good market solution, the idea for ECOSTAR grew out of the need to solve a problem. I was 30, completing my PhD and had just started my own business in this sector and it frustrated me how little support, education and training there was for young entrepreneurs seeking to develop their business ideas.”
Joining forces with partners from institutions of higher education (HEIs) and businesses, the concept of ECOSTAR was hereafter presented as a Knowledge Alliance. It is based on an innovation hub focussed on nature and ecology-related topics. In conjunction with a platform to connect HEIs with the needs of the labour market and applicability, this project provides its participants with knowledge, experience and an entrepreneurial mind-set. And in the long run, it supports them to respond to new societal challenges and trends, such as the green and digital transition.
This Alliance, thus born as a consortium of four HEIs and four businesses from the EU plus one from the US, has designed the first “nature-based” accelerator of its kind. Its objective is to guide entrepreneurs and support start-ups who develop innovative and sustainable solutions for agriculture, forestry and natural resources and offer them know-how and funding opportunities.
The concept of ECOSTAR is based on three main pillars of activities:
- Facilitating access to the international researchers-business network and fostering the links between these two sectors
- Offering specialized training on entrepreneurship and innovation targeted at MScs and PhDs within forestry and environment faculties in the EU through multidisciplinary approaches to teaching and learning
- Accelerating the co-creation of knowledge to ensure a sustainable impact
Are you still wondering about the honey jar?
With this pioneering concept, ECOSTAR helped a variety of ideas and projects to arise: from sustainable beekeeping to the usage of dead trees and wood to produce furniture to the development and distribution of food products based on insects – which are both environmentally friendly and tasty. The range of visions is impressively broad. By supporting them, ECOSTAR contributes to economic growth, employability and sustainability with a substantial impact on the European and international framework.
Learn more at ecostarhub.com/nature-accelerator.
Read the full story here.