How it all began…

How it all began…

Design ohne Titel (4)

Seeds grow, evolve and crack open. So do ideas, similar to how circle17 was born.

In 2017/18, a group of students sat together in a lecture called “Sustainability Challenge” and were posed with the opportunity to work with the Austrian Development Agency as a project learning team. The goal was to answer the question how the ADA could contribute more to supporting entrepreneurs and new forms of businesses. An interdisciplinary team of 4 students, Philipp von Gehren, Ruzica Luketina, Konstantin Heyduck and Ines Wieland, came up with the initial idea to strengthen strategic alliances between start-ups and corporates and then get funding as partners. One main focus was to also confront the topic of what it means to become a more sustainable society overall and how to get there. “At the beginning we thought that this would be a small-scale project like meetings in the premises of Foodcoops or FabLabs, doing a lot of things ourselves and so on”, Konstantin Heyduck, Co-Initiator, explains. They wanted to create a space where people from different backgrounds in business would meet and engage with each other and get into action-mode to create, change and do something. “It was important to us to not only talk, but to act!”, Konstantin mentions. 

As a next step, partners were needed to access the target group and implement the idea professionally. AustrianStartups and respACT– the austrian business council for sustainable development were found to be the perfect match for uniting startups with sustainably engaged companies. The two non-profit organisations developed the initial idea together with the project initiators into a programme, which was formerly named “Sustainable Innovation Cycle – Steigerung nachhaltiger Entwicklung durch innovative Wirtschaftskooperationen”. As a result, they successfully managed to get the necessary funding by the Austrian Development Agency. 

Now with funding and a partnership in place, the programme of Sustainable Innovation Cycle needed to be communicated. In collaboration with the Omnichannel Marketing Agency offroad communications the initial logo and name “circle17” were established to represent the project best. You can see the initial logo here :

With a diverse team of two organisations, funding and a nice logo in place, circle17 was able to lift off! The first cycle took place between September 2019 and March 2020. 

At the roundtable in September 2019 business representatives, experts, entrepreneurs and students were brought together to discuss the main current and future challenges for the integration of sustainable practices in specific economic sectors. The three main topics in the cycle 2019 were Agriculture and Nutrition, Urban Infrastructure and Mobility and Transportation

The challenges were solved by start-ups, students and makers during the Impacthon – a hackathon with an impact. 

Pictures: (c) Schwarz

During Coaching sessions the participants were then mentored to further develop their product and solutions as well their business model. At the Matchmaking event in February 2020 start-ups presented their ideas and innovations to corporations to find partners to implement their business model. In the Kick-Off of the 2nd cycle three successful startup-partnerships that have been established through circle17 have been presented. Here you can rewatch the Kick-off 2020!

Seeds can grow – but only if they find nurturing soil and water to grow! Just like in the mission of circle17, a match of organisations was needed to make change happen and elevate an idea into necessary action for a better future. As you can see in the second cycle circle17 keeps growing and establishing itself further the longer it operates with the diverse group of stakeholders shaping its vision.  

Find out more about the current cycle here!

Titlepicture: (c) Daniel Oberg via Unsplash