Smart Precinct NQ invites QLD innovators to 'Dare to Think Circular'

Boomerang Labs Partners
Smart Precincts NQ teamed up with Boomerang Labs to present Dare To Think Circular, a two-hour workshop for circular economy innovators, inventors and change makers, on 17 October 2023.

Led by Boomerang Labs General Manager Caitlyn Touzell, the short intensive program focused on helping attendees create and refine an innovative solution for an industry problem using circular economy principles. With a larger goal of supporting the Northern Queensland circular economy ecosystem, the workshop focused on the opportunities and benefits that a circular economy could enable for the region, as well as the efforts already underway by local early adopters.

Participants were encouraged to attend with a concept or idea for a new business that they would like to test, validate and explore with experienced circular economy entrepreneurs, business mentors, industry and research partners. The workshop helped them to:
Understand the fundamental theory behind a circular economy
Learn about market and policy drivers for Australia’s circular transition
Understand different types of circular economy business models, and how they differ from business as usual
Understand barriers and opportunities at a national, state and local levels.
Discuss learnings from real world examples that can be applied to the group’s own startups.

The workshop received a great reception from the NQ community, with local entrepreneurs joining online and in-person representing a wide range of stakeholders sharing ideas and learnings in their own experiences and ambitions.

Key takeaways
Circular economy requires systems change and thinking, driven by a wide variety of environmental,
social and economic factors. Participants spoke to the ethical need to consider alternatives to
‘business as usual’, to prevent and mitigate climate change impact globally as well as in the unique
environmental and cultural landscapes of NQ. Circular economy was discussed as a way to preserve
quality of life through a more sustainable and adaptable way of using resources, to shift away from
‘growth at all costs’ mentality and behaviours.

Adopting circular economy principles was identified as a way of preparing local businesses for the
broader transition to circular that’s already progressing globally and in Australia, building resilience
and harnessing the opportunity in regionally industries, particularly agriculture. Participants spoke to
the significant opportunity that circular economy enables in unlocking the ‘treasure chest’ that is
Townsville and NQ.

Participants recognised the relationship between social change and innovation, as each relies on the
other in finding new ways of doing things, and keeping them up across the NQ community. Using
waste as a resource was a key example that was discussed in most groups, to retain their value and
to create new materials for the community to use. Innovation is key to a circular economy, as is
industry leadership, to demonstrate the opportunity of circularity and enable adoption at a
significant scale.

In addition to the above insights, the main topics shared in workshop discussions included:
The importance of collaboration with organisations, communities, and government agencies to drive the circular economy forward.

A strong emphasis on the need to eliminate waste and find sustainable solutions for managing resources, including finding innovative ways to reuse, recycle, and recover materials.

The need to educate and raise awareness among the public, especially the youth, about the importance of circular economy principles. This includes promoting sustainable practices, reducing waste, and protecting the
environment, to instil good values into the next generation of individuals and decision-makers.

The need for supportive policies and regulations to promote circular economy practices, including incentivising businesses to adopt circular practices, setting quality standards for recycled materials, and encouraging investment in circular economy initiatives.

The need for better communication and knowledge sharing within the circular economy community, such as
sharing best practices, lessons learned, and success stories to inspire others and drive innovation.

The importance of finding solutions specific to the local and regional context, including identifying opportunities for collaboration and innovation within the local community, such as working with local businesses,
farmers, and government agencies.

Circular economy initiatives need to be economically viable to attract investment and drive widespread adoption. Participants discussed the importance of finding market opportunities for circular products and services, as well as exploring new business models that prioritise sustainability.

Engaging stakeholders, including businesses, government agencies, and the community, was identified as crucial for the success of circular economy initiatives. Participants mentioned the need to involve stakeholders in decision-making processes and create platforms for dialogue and collaboration.
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