Challenge Track

Environmental Sustainability

How can we avoid the depletion of natural resources and allow for long-term environmental quality?

Why Environmental Sustainability?

The Environmental Sustainability track  is looking for solutions to help avoid depletion or degradation of natural resources and allow for long-term environmental quality and a liveable habitat for humans, plants and animals alike. 

Environmental sustainability covers a wide range of issues starting from a specific location to a global dimension. Do you have an idea, or do you want to co-create alongside a network of experts? Learn more about the challenges below & sign-up now!

The practice of environmental sustainability helps to ensure that the needs of today’s population are met without jeopardising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. 

When we look at the natural environment, we see that it has a rather remarkable ability to rejuvenate itself and sustain its viability through a closed cycle. For example, when a tree falls, it decomposes, adding nutrients to the soil. These nutrients help sustain suitable conditions so future saplings can grow.  

When nature is left alone, it has a tremendous ability to care for itself. However, when humans enter the picture and use many of the natural resources provided by the environment, things change. Human actions can deplete natural resources, and without the application of environmental sustainability methods, long-term viability can be compromised. This is already obvious as we are currently facing the sixth mass extinction in history.

Looking after environmental health is crucial to ensuring we, and future generations, can live healthy lives on a healthy planet.

Environmental sustainability is talked about in relation to all aspects of our lives – from creating eco homes and environmentally conscious communities to sourcing sustainable food, low impact furniture and clothing. 

Global issues comprise concerns about: 

  • Sustainable food, land, soil, water and oceans
  • Pursue efforts to reduce negative impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems to prevent future pandemics and ensure healthy ecosystems
  • Environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle, in accordance with agreed international frameworks, and significantly reduce their release to air, water and soil in order to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment
  • Promoting business & society in harmony with nature and understanding that humans exist within nature
  • Sustainable agriculture and production processes, transportation, distribution and disposal
  • Promoting a circular economy to close nutrition streams

While the location-specific issues are for instance:

  • Soil erosion & quality, 
  • Water management, 
  • Sustainable agriculture & livestock farming
  • waste management
  • and air and water pollution.

Impact Experts

Within the circle17 impacthon, multidisciplinary teams will be connected with <b>impact experts </b>to reflect, exchange and develop the best possible understanding of their sustainability challenge, and a systemic and sustainable solution.

Challenge Track Partners

We are extremely thankful for all Challenge Track Partners, who ensure that the industry’s top knowledge is represented.

Susanne Formanek
„The Circle 17 Impacthon was characterized by interesting people, future-oriented tasks and encouraging input. GRÜNSTATTGRAU was able to meet many motivated participants within the course of the challenge. Working together with them on solutions for the green city of the future was not only fun, but very successful.”
Matthias Wagner
„Was respACT & AustrianStartups geschaffen und organisiert haben, ist so viel mehr als nur erstaunliche Lösungen für die Herausforderungen zu finden. circle17 hat so viele inspirierende Menschen zusammengebracht, sie motiviert und ihnen Hoffnung auf eine bessere, grünere Zukunft gegeben. Es scheint, als ob es während dieses Impacthons eine Explosion von Wissen und positiven Emotionen gab!“
Marie-Theres Lutz
„Wir nehmen von der Zusammenarbeit nicht nur viel Inspiration und Motivation mit, sondern auch einen potentiellen Partner, der eine nachhaltige Lösung mit uns gemeinsam umsetzt."
Markus Linder
“circle17 has been instrumental for us to get from a visionary idea towards a passionate team working together to help mitigate the climate and biodiversity crisis by empowering people to shop in line with their environmental and social priorities.”
Esther Hummel
"Through Circle17 we got to know our first business partner. The cooperation with an established company enables us to achieve a greater impact with our sustainable solution and thus to jointly contribute to the achievement of the SDGs."
Screenshot 2020-09-08 at 11.16.38
Fabian Artacker
"With Carpacity, we are meeting one of the biggest challenges facing society today: CO2 emissions caused by private transport. Our goal is to convince citizens of sustainable mobility. circle17 helps us to push our project further with its great networking effect"
Design ohne Titel
Michael Friedmann
"circle17 provided us with the opportunity to reflect about our sustainability strategy and to select a major direction we would like to explore. During the sessions we experienced a lot of inspiring moments and new perspectives which helped us to generate more innovative ideas."
Richard Kahlbacher
"It was a huge joy to work with the highly motivated and perfectly prepared circle17 team. Further it was an excellent opportunity for networking and exchanging ideas. The entire event was made in a professional and motivating way."
Martin Stohanzl
Social Innovator
„Es ist faszinierend, was man mit einer gemeinsamen Vision, einem Team und einem Laptop an einem Wochenende erreichen kann."
Greiner Logo
Philipp Kranewitter
Greiner AG
"circle17 managed to provide a robust innovation and idea process, which allowed us to quickly jump into the topic and start working together with the team on our Challenge. Overall the tools and preparation for the virtual collaboration was excellent."
Challenge Lead 2020
"circle 17 has been a highlight in 2020! Participation in the Impacthon offered an ideal opportunity to build a network in the digital world even during COVID-19 and to present OeEB to a new audience."
FarmNow Titelbild
Alexander Juranek
"circle17’s Impacthon was a fantastic experience: starting with interesting challenges, to the highly diverse participants, the world class workshop moderations/meeting logistics to the mentors/coaches it was a revelation – and while really intensive we can recommend it to any person who’s thinking about starting a social impact venture."
Michaela Stephen
" The coaching and resources provided by circle17 have been extremely helpful in supporting Sleepify to take our idea and turn it into an initial start-up."
Christoph Hornik
"The best part of this program is to meet and interact with like-minded people who all want to develop solutions that make a positive impact on the environment and our world. Furthermore, circle17 always provides a range of experts from various fields. Those who mentored and supported us not only helped us advance with our start-up, but also connected us with important key players of the market."
Andrés Campaña
"It is a good place to meet like-minded people who have the same vision as we have towards making our world a better place. This experience has also had a great impact on our personal lives, giving us the opportunity of meeting new cultures, new ways of thinking, and the possibility of improving our English and German language skills."

Frequently Asked Questions

For more in-depth questions on how your journey could look like, please see our full FAQ section.

What is Circle17?

circle17 supports the design of practical business solutions to the most urgent sustainability challenges, by facilitating a platform for startup collaboration with corporates and non-profit organisations.  

In order to identify these most pressing sustainability challenges, circle17 co-operates together with corporates- and non-profit organisations. These sustainability challenges function as a strong foundation, inspiration and validation for the design of system-changing solutions. 

The development of these solutions is not a straight-forward given. It requires an inclusive and experimental approach, modern methodologies, creativity and an innovative out-of-the-box mindset. 

This is where all social innovators come into place: startup founders, academics, changemakers, enthusiasts, coders and creatives come into place. The circle17 Impacthon is an open-call for all those who believe it’s important to unite, in order to solve the most pressing sustainability challenges together. 

Not only does circle17 provide a safe space for eye-to-eye level exchanges, but an inclusive growth platform where the potential that lies with multi-stakeholder collaboration can be understood and unleashed.

Who’s behind circle17?

The circle17 project is brought to life via the two Non-Profit organisations AustrianStartups & respACT.

AustrianStartups is Austria’s largest start-up platform and think tank for innovative entrepreneurship 

With a team of around 50 startup enthusiasts, the non-profit organization organizes more than 60 events annually, operates communication platforms for more than 30,000 followers from the startup environment and publishes Austria’s largest startup study – the Austrian Startup Monitor.

respACT has been supporting its more than 300 member companies for over 20 years in achieving ecological and social goals economically and independently. On a national level, respACT cooperates with ministries, scientific institutions and interest groups. As the coordinating office of the Global Compact Network Austria and partner of the WBCSD and CSR Europe, respACT is also the right contact at the international level.

How does the circle17 program work?

The circle17 programme consists of three phases. 


The discovery is all set to identify and determine the most critical sustainability challenges. Corporates and Civil Society leading the change particiapte in two consecutive workshops (hosted by circle17) to explore trends and define challenges within the sustainable development goals.

Learn more about the programme’s offer on our Lead the change-Page


The circle17 Impacthon is an online hackathon designed to share and rapidly develop practical solutions. Startup founders, entrepreneurs, academics and enthusiasts come together to work on society-level solutions to the sustainable challenges, posed by our network of (corporate) organisations.

Learn more about the impacthon, and how you can get involved here.


Our circle17 Matchmaking event is a day in which we’ll bring all programme participants and project innovations together with an external network collaboration partners, and offer supporting modules to match interests and needs. 

How can I join circle17?

We are looking for bold and innovative thinkers & do-ers that can help to develop solutions to the large-scale sustainability challenges that withhold us on individual, business and societal level to become more resilient.

For this to work, circle17 needs a strong community. We need you!

You can get involved in four different ways:

Challenge Leads are corporate- and non-profit organisations that have submitted sustainability challenges, they face inside- and outside of their organisation.

We are inviting all gamechangers, from creators, IT specialists, startups, academics and enthusiasts to participate and show us how you would solve various challenges through creative thinking and the (potential) application of technology.

Are you, or the organisation you are working with, faced with sustainability challenges in your daily operations? Are you interested in working together with a broad network of young innovators, startups and academics to dive deep into your challenge and work on solutions that could benefit your business- and society at larger scale?.

We’re looking for mentors who can coach the participants during the Impacthon and experts who can answer questions along the way.

Are you a superhero mentor, interested in partaking in our programme to support the development of sustainable project innovations? – learn more on this page on how you can get involved!

The circle17 programme is a non-profit establishment, aimed at the development of resilient and sustainable business solutions. Are you, your company or organisation interested in exploring opportunities to support our cause? Contact us!

Contact Us

* Your information is processed in compliance with our privacy policy