Welcome to the BlueCity accelerator for circular entrepreneurs

Posted on 15 April 2020.

Located in an abandoned water park in Rotterdam, BlueCity provides circular entrepreneurs with the means to turn their ideas into action. The concept is based on leading by example to accelerate the transition to a circular economy.

In Rotterdam, under the huge glass dome that once housed Center Parcs' large Tropicana pool complex, a company makes "fruit leather" from unsold food products, a sustainable fashion brand makes clothes from scrap, and a craft brewery develops an innovative process to recover the water used to cool the mash. BlueCity hosts around thirty start-ups – and they all share the same goal: build a waste-free world.   And to help them do just that, the accelerator creates loops. It connects entrepreneurs within a circular economy ecosystem where a source of waste from one activity becomes a source of raw materials for another. For example, the coffee grounds produced by the Aloha restaurant are used as the soil for growing Rotterzwam’s mushrooms.
  It was the founders of Rotterzwam, Siemen Cox and Mark Slegers, who came up with the idea of moving to Tropicana. Looking for a place to grow their oyster mushrooms in the center of Rotterdam, they fell under the spell of this iconic building, abandoned in 2010, whose structure resembles a giant greenhouse. Its transformation, still in progress, has been entrusted to the architects Superuse Studios, BlueCity co-initiator and tenant, which reuses second-hand building materials found on the Harvest Map Marketplace for professional upcyclers (Oogstkaart, in Dutch).   Everything from the office design to the energy and water supply is engineered to bring circular economy principles into play. Rotterzwam now occupies the basement, a space that the start-up shares with hundreds of worms, which turn BlueCity's organic waste into compost.


Encouraging circular entrepreneurship

The aim of BlueCity is to stimulate circular entrepreneurship and contribute to a culture of innovation in Rotterdam. It therefore not only creates links between entrepreneurs, but also with local residents, the city authorities and large companies looking for waste recovery solutions.

According to the founders of BlueCity, the biggest problem in the transition to a circular economy lies in start-ups' lack of scalability: innovative start-ups struggle to grow fast enough and still remain efficient and profitable. The idea is therefore to accelerate the transition to a circular economy at the (inter)national level by setting an example at the local level, help entrepreneurs gain a better understanding of the hurdles (regulation, access to finance, etc.) they face and demonstrate that it is possible to make a difference.   

CREDITS: Main Picture © BlueCity