ASU and Phoenix issue new call for ventures to innovate for waste prevention and diversion


January 4, 2019

Arizona State University, named the most innovative school in the nation by U.S. News and World Report for four straight years, in collaboration with the city of Phoenix — named the top performing city overall by Governing and Living Cities — are calling for innovators and entrepreneurs to participate in the RISN Incubator, a diverse solutions business development and accelerator program. The application period is open now.

The RISN Incubator is a program within the Resource Innovation and Solutions Network (RISN) and supports new-to-market ventures that focus on improvements in processing or utilization of waste as a raw material for new products or energy. Selected enterprises receive unique access to resources and support from ASU and Phoenix to develop their solutions that contribute to the regional and national development of a vibrant circular economy. The RISN Incubator is a business accelerator operated within the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Service to drive a vibrant circular economy. The RISN Incubator, operated in partnership between ASU's Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Service and Entrepreneurship + Innovation, works with the city of Phoenix and its public works department to drive a robust circular economy in Arizona and beyond. Download Full Image

“We are excited to engage a new cohort of innovators to build upon the impact of our initial 13 companies and help drive a stronger, more resilient economy that continues to explore new ways to close loops, create jobs and drive innovation,” said Alicia Marseille, director of the RISN Incubator. “In just two cohorts, RISN Incubator ventures have generated more than $4.1 million in revenue and created 43 jobs, proving the substantial impact these companies have made in just over one year.”

The RISN Incubator provides access to technical experts — including university faculty — for their advancement, workshops and training, business plan and growth strategy development, access to materials called feedstocks from Phoenix’s waste transfer station and a process for continuous evaluation and prequalification for funding opportunities with introductions to funders.

“By cultivating public-private partnerships to turn trash into new products, the Phoenix Public Works Department continues to work to increase our waste diversion rate and create economic impact in our city,” said Ginger Spencer, Phoenix Public Works director. “As inspiring as it is to see the new businesses take hold, it is even more inspiring to work with them to help us meet our waste diversion goals for 2020 and beyond.”

Startup concepts eligible for the incubator include, but are not limited to, conversion of solid waste into new material or energy; services that divert, reuse or recycle; and software applications and design services that focus on sustainability. The priority waste feedstocks that the successful ventures will have access to include plastics, batteries, carpeting and carpet foam, broken furniture, mattresses, textiles, food waste, compost and plastic film.

Thirteen ventures have completed their mentorship period within the incubator, including the following:

  • Renewlogy, developer of a proprietary chemical recycling process that allows plastic to be reversed back into its basic molecular structure, converting nonrecycled plastic waste into new valuable products such as high-value fuels. Renewlogy was a winner of the 2017 Arizona Innovation Open and the 2018 Sustainable Brands Innovation Open.
  • Hathority, which specializes in software integration and application development in order to make societal impacts such as reduce landfill waste, improve recycling and change customer behavior.
  • Recyclops, who has used mobile app technology to bring recycling and waste diversion through a sharing economy model to areas that otherwise would not have options aside from sending their trash to landfill. Both rural communities and high density multifamily residential complexes are often without recycling services.

“The team at ASU knows everyone in the who's who of the circular economy space,” said Ryan Smith, founder and CEO of Recyclops. “We have been astounded by the relationships that we've been able to build because of RISN and the lessons we've learned. It's truly been a life-changing experience for us and has had an enormous positive effect as we continue to push our business forward.”

This call for innovators and entrepreneurs is open until Jan. 31, with cohort finalists notified of their selection by Feb. 18.

The RISN Incubator is operated at ASU by the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Service and ASU Entrepreneurship + Innovation. For more information about the RISN Incubator including the application questions, visit RISNincubator.asu.edu.

Jason Franz

Senior manager, Marketing and Communications, Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives

480-727-4072

City of Phoenix partners with ASU for new regional resource innovation center


January 8, 2014

The City of Phoenix took another substantial leap forward as a global sustainability leader Tuesday afternoon as its city council gave policy approval of a four-year agreement to work with Arizona State University to establish a ground-breaking public/private sustainability incubator focused on converting waste and other resources into economic value.

The Center for Resource Intelligence will be a network of public and private entities that provides a wide array of research, development, education and solution services to more effectively manage resources and create economic value. Industries ranging from energy, water, resource extraction, product development, manufacturing and recycling will collaborate in this effort that city staff project could result in $1-3 million of savings annually. ASU students sort waste for SRP Download Full Image

“This is about turning trash once destined for the landfill into business opportunities and jobs for our community,” said Mayor Greg Stanton. “With this effort, Phoenix can lead the way to discover how to reduce our waste in a way that spurs innovation and advances our economy.”

The center will be managed by the Sustainability Solutions Services (S3), a program within the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives at ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability, in collaboration with the city, private sector affiliates and other municipalities and institutions. The city’s investment will initially focus on creating value, economic opportunity and jobs out of waste streams.

“Sustainability is the 'low-hanging fruit' when it comes to identifying new ways to save taxpayer dollars and generate new revenue to run our city," said Vice Mayor Bill Gates, chairman of the City Council Finance, Efficiency, Economy and Sustainability Subcommittee. "This public-private partnership will maximize our efforts by encouraging green entrepreneurs to bring their businesses and ideas to life right here in Phoenix."

The center will work with various businesses and government entities to address types of waste streams, including food scraps, recyclables and yard waste, using a project-oriented collaborative model. Center collaborators will be able to introduce and sponsor projects while taking advantage of the knowledge base and synergies present within the center's network.

“The city of Phoenix is leading the way in supporting green entrepreneurs and reducing our solid waste," said Councilwoman Kate Gallego. "Sustainable businesses are the future of Phoenix."

The center resulted from a series of stakeholder workshops conducted by S3 in collaboration with Phoenix’s Public Works Department to facilitate a regional partnership that will develop technologies and markets and create economic opportunities.

“This seed investment from the city of Phoenix will allow the Center for Resource Intelligence to develop a large network of organizations in the Valley and potentially around the globe that can collaborate to help achieve the levels of resource effectiveness required for 9 billion people to live well on the planet by 2050,” said Dan O’Neill, general manager for Sustainability Solutions Services. “We appreciate the leadership of John Trujillo and the team in the city’s Public Works Department for having the vision to find solutions to our Valley’s – and planet’s – sustainability challenges.”

City staff estimates an additional 10 to 25 percent diversion of solid waste from landfill to other uses through the research and development of the center and partnerships with the private sector.

Jason Franz

Senior manager, Marketing and Communications, Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives

480-727-4072