Sustainability is one of our core pillars. Find out more about our ambitions below. 

Responsibility Strategy

As an impact driven initiative we are aware of the consequences of our actions on the planet, environment and people. Therefore sustainability and responsibility are at an utmost importance to us. The Sustainable Development Goals not only shape our program, but also guide us in our project in general. 

circle17 is an initiative of respACT and AustrianStartups. Because two organizations are involved, some ambitions can vary among the two parties involved. 

Titlepicture (c) Scott Webb via Unsplash

Connected to the SDG Goals 2 and 12 we want to minimize our impacts on our planet through choosing sustainable produced, organic and fair food for our events. We only serve vegetarian and vegan food and are very endeavoured to reduce food waste. We also cooperate with companies that save food that would have been thrown away and serve it in delicious ways instead. 

We also strive to reduce food packaging by partnering with zero waste organisations. 

(c) Markus Spiske via Unsplash
(c) Cajun Gomez via Unsplash

Sustainability not only addresses issues regarding our economic and ecological system and planetary boundaries but also how we act as a society and our social system. For our employees we are ensuring safety in the workplace by following the Austrian regulations in that regard. 

Regarding the wellbeing of our employees we strive to foster a healthy and appreciative environment. We encourage regular work breaks, movement, drinking enough water and eating regularly. respACT also provides fresh fruits as snacks as well as a weekly yoga session. 

Team building exercises help us maintain a good work relationship with each other and we encourage open communication and respect.  

We acknowledge the importance of happiness and wellbeing in the workplace for long-term success as a project and also to benefit from accumulated knowledge that employees gain by working for circle17 for longer periods of time.

This topic is connected to the SDGs 4 and 8.

respACT is part of the Global Compact Network. In the biannual report you can find all the details about the sustainability of our office. 

AustrianStartups is working a lot at Impact Hub Vienna, so please check out their homepage for further information. 

This Topic is connected to the SDGs 6, 7, 8 and 12.

(c) Ben Kolde via Unsplash
(c) Claudio Schwarz-Purzlbaum via Unsplash

Marginalised people, BIPoC and especially women are affected most by environmental hazards as well as climate change. Especially people in the global south suffer the consequences of the actions of northern communities. Through supply chains, production of goods and mobility we are all connected. Therefore we want to be aware of those issues in our work and tackle the issue of equality in many different aspects: 

  • We commit to encourage more women to take part in our program, to be speakers and facilitators and strive for equal opportunities for all genders. We use platforms like to find suitable female experts. 
  • We also are aware of the necessity to engage in anti-racist behaviour. We are still learning a lot, but commit to be better in incorporating anti-racist tactics in our work routines. 
  • We also commit to lower barriers for impaired people. 

Our program itself contributes to reducing inequalities by addressing pressing issues like climate change, loss of biodiversity and environmental problems through encouraging innovation and continuing actions regarding those topics by corporations, civil society and start-ups. Through partnerships innovative solutions can be anchored in the bigger systems of society and economy (see also Partnerships below).

These topics are connected to the SDGs 5 and 10.

We are aware that online activities like using the internet, using conference call programs, e-mailing etc. are also using up energy and resources and are in no way carbon neutral. For example one Search on Google uses up 7g of CO2. If you scale that up to the masses of searches the global community enters every day – 3,5 Billions –  the numbers skyrocket ( 2019). Therefore we are using the eco friendly search engine “ecosia” that plants trees for every entered search. 

This topic is connected to the SDGs 9 and 13. 

(c) NASA
(c) Louis Maniquet via Unsplash

The Climate Crisis is the most pressing challenge humanity is facing at the moment which is also brought forward by the Fridays for Future initiative and more and more political commitments towards sustainability. circle17 wants to contribute to solutions by addressing the topic of resilience in connection with the SDGs in the cycle of 2020/21 and by promoting sustainability as a practice for businesses. In this year’s cycle we have one track especially dedicated to this topic. 

circle17 also tries to reduce its own impact on the climate by compensating emissions of our online activities and offline activities with Climate Partner.

We are also choosing alternatives like:

  • using digital conference apps to connect to partners who are further away from Vienna
  • opting for public transport and commiting to a no flight policy within Europe
  • choosing an ecological power company (see work environment) and reducing energy usage by switching off computers and equipment when not used
  • sharing equipment and reducing the need for new products 
  • sourcing new products from sustainable companies 
  • reducing print materials

Waste generates not only problems for our environment, oceans, rivers but also in regard to the climate and health of people. We want to reduce our waste by: 

  • using the second hand market for the hardware we use 
  • correctly disposing our waste 
  • avoiding food waste and save food through partnering with food saving companies (see also Food)
  • using reusable water bottles 
  • not providing straws, unnecessary paper and plastic promotion materials or plastic packaging at our events 

This Topic is connected to the SDG 6, 9 and 13.

(c) Jasmin Sessler via Unplash
(c) Hannah Busing via Unsplash

In connection with the SDG 17 core elements of circle17 are partnerships and collaborations. We not only foster collaboration through our initiative but also incorporate partnerships in our program over all. We work with other organisations that work with start-ups, in the sustainability area or with corporations. We want to exchange our expertise and share resources to generate more impact in the long run.

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!

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