Urban Challenge – Circular Economy Hub South Harbour

10 Oct 2017

Are you an entrepreneur within the circular economy or do you simply have a brilliant idea? Enter our Urban Challenge and bring your idea to life in the Circular Economy Hub South Harbour!

The Municipality of Copenhagen has set the ambitious goal of making Copenhagen the world’s first carbon-neutral capital by 2025. The visionary 2025-strategy recognises the importance of approaching the circular economy by closing the loop of material flows, seeing waste as a resource for recycling and upcycling. The aim is to make Copenhagen the leading city within the circular economy and green innovation sector.

The Urban Site

Placed next to the harbour front, surrounded by large green areas and cut off from the rest of Copenhagen by big highways, the South Harbour is an oasis of calm.

The South Harbour area’s historic status as a traditionally low-income neighbourhood has changed over the years to accommodate an increasing population of artists and creatives. These inhabitants have then developed well-oiled systems for recycling and upcycling their resources. This strong underground movement has made the South Harbour an inspirational living lab for a circular economy mindset, and thus provides the perfect backdrop for experimenting, prototyping, testing and developing circular business ideas. 

Learn more about the South Harbour and follow local initiatives on Facebook

The Urban Challenge

In collaboration with Climate-KIC, The Integrated Urban Renewal Initiative of the South Harbour (the Municipality of Copenhagen) now invites citizens, students, entrepreneurs, local organizations and brilliant idea owners with a circular business idea to participate in the open innovation competition Circular Economy Hub South Harbour. Together with Aalborg University’s campus in the South Harbour, the Municipality of Copenhagen’s other initiatives and local actors, the winners of the competition will be part of the foundation from where a circular economy hub in the South Harbour will flourish.

Why Participate

The 8 best ideas/solutions will be invited to pitch in front of a professional jury on 15 December 2017. Three winners of the competition will win access to the Circular Economy Hub South Harbour Phase II. In Phase II the winners will take part in working towards the implementation of their business idea. These three winning ideas/teams will be provided with access to professional advice and assistance with their business development, networking and funding. Phase II runs throughout 2018 and the goal is to make their business ideas a reality within that time frame.

The Challenges

Recycling centres, bike shops and other organisations receive different materials each day, whereupon they either become a produce of a down-cycled process or a surplus material in an already saturated market. In this case, we are interested in new ways of making use of: 

  • UNSORTED WOOD: Denmark is facing an increasing problem with waste wood, and financially sustainable solutions must be found that go beyond the already saturated chipboard production market. Large amounts of wood are delivered to recycling centres filled with nails, screws and other debris. Until now the solution has been to manually remove these metals in order to use the wood again. It is a resource-consuming process that is not financially sustainable. How can this unsorted wood best be recycled and come to have commercial value?
  • TYRES: Every year, 12.5 million tonnes of tyres are disposed of worldwide. In 2003, the EU implemented a total ban on the deposition of tyres, and incineration is also not legal. In this regard, we see huge potential in recycling tyres. Life cycle analyses have shown that the recycling of tyres is always more environmentally friendly than incineration. In the South Harbour, many bicycle tyres are disposed of every day and recycling centres are filled with car tyres. Subsequently, we are interested in ideas that up-cycle and put old tyres into new applications.
  • PLASTIC & PACKAGING: Analyses show that Danish consumers over the past three years have increased their consumption of so-called convenience products by 26%. This change has to some extent been brought on by increasing purchases of pre-prepared vegetables, ready meals and so on. These convenience products entail a large amount of plastic produced for packaging. In packaging use, the annual consumption of the chemical substance bisphenol A is about 3.8 million tonnes worldwide. However, only about five percent of the consumption is used for products that come into contact with food (packaging, containers, etc.) Chemical substances in food packaging is an area in which Danish consumers are increasingly conscious. Therefore we are interested in designs and solutions related to plastic and chemical reduction within the packaging industry. Unfortunately, it is difficult to control the content of problematic substances in plastic products. This is often due to the consequences of Danish stores importing cheap products from countries outside the EU. Maybe it’s time for a “buy local” movement for plastic products?

Besides the different reusable materials that come into play above, other initiatives are moreover relevant when striving towards a closed loop. Here we are interested in the development of local initiatives in the South Harbour within the following areas; 

  • DEMOCRATIZING THE FOOD PRODUCTION: As worldwide urbanization intensifies, food production has become alien to us. We have been cut off from processes that have occupied almost the entirety of our ancestors’ time and labour. The industrialization of farming has, throughout the past six decades, developed into a non-regenerative production process. This is exemplified by vast and growing agricultural pollution from pesticides and nitrates, decreasing income and less autonomy for farmers, and by the constant global distribution of food. As a response to this development, communities around the world are building food systems with, for and by the people. These systems are already thriving, especially in urban areas where vertical gardens are gaining more attention. Could this be a way to accommodate the problems regarding globalized food production? What are other ways in which these problems can be addressed while ensuring positive physical and social outcomes in local and urban areas such as the South Harbour?
  • BETTER PRODUCT DESIGN: Many valuable materials are lost every year because it is difficult to recover them from disposed of products. Better product design can help save precious resources. Smart product design and production processes can help save resources, avoid inefficient waste management and create new business opportunities. Many new business opportunities will develop as better product design leads to a focus on new production technologies and materials. Small and medium-sized enterprises may find opportunities to differentiate themselves through more resource efficient processes, which will also result in financial savings. Do you have an idea which is supporting product requirements that make products more durable, easier to repair and disassemble or recyclable? Then the idea is maybe the next innovation anchored in the new South Harbour Circular Economy Hub. 

Competition manual, criteria and application form

The Competition Manual contains further information about; competition objectives, specifications and criteria, important dates, the structure of the process and how it will be managed.

We highly recommended that you read this document carefully before submitting a solution. Please download the Competition Manual.

The application process consists of two steps:

  1. You need to download the Circular Business Canvas template and fill it out to the best of your ability.
  2. Fill out the online application form by 31 October 2017, where you upload the filled out business canvas and attach any visual materials (in PDF form). Additional text submissions and submission that are not sent via this route will not be considered. 


  • Provide all the mandatory information requested in the form.
  • Find the Catalogue of Challenges here
  • Add the contact information for all the owners of the business idea.
  • Note that there are no requirements as to the maturity of submitted business ideas. You are welcome to make predictions where you are unable to provide accurate information, but please make this clear. 

Competition Programme

Open for submissions 5 October 2017
Submission Deadline 31 October 2017
Announcement of contestants selected for interviews  3 November 2017 15:00
Interviews  15 – 16 November 2017
Announcement of finalists  17 November 2017 15:00
Individually organized maturation process 20 November – 7 December 2017
Deadline for business ideas to be handed into the jury 8 December 2017 at 12:00
Finale in Copenhagen, Denmark  15 December 2017


Further information and questions concerning the competition

Please get in touch with:

Peter Vangsbo, Business Developer at Climate-KIC Nordic

All submissions must be made by 31 October 2017

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