VUB Chair of Social Entrepreneurship launches 'Circular Economy Challenge’

VUB Chair of Social Entrepreneurship launches 'Circular Economy Challenge’

Wanted: Teams with creative solutions for current Brussels themes

Do you have an idea to get energy from car scrap, reuse coffee mugs or give wedding dresses a second life? The Vrije Universiteit Brussel calls on students, entrepreneurs and other innovative minds to launch a project proposal that fits within the Brussels circular economy, as a team, before 20 December. Pitch an idea in one of the five focus areas and get guidance on how to implement it.


The 'Circular Economy Challenge' is an initiative of the VUB Chair of Social Entrepreneurship which, together with founding partners BNP Paribas Fortis, Close the Gap and Euroclear, has been supporting social entrepreneurs since 2015. Prof. Dr. Nikolay Dentchev, Chairholder: "Brussels suffers from a variety of social and environmental problems. Through this Challenge, we want to encourage people to come up with innovative ideas within the circular economy. Our focus areas are (1) big data, (2) energy, (3) electronic waste, (4) mobility and (5) the reuse of materials. We choose for a competition in a team because we want to bring together like-minded people with different expertise and backgrounds."



The Circular Economy Challenge is aimed at students (at the VUB or other universities or high schools), entrepreneurs, employees and innovative minds. Participation is free, but teams are committed to the entire competition process:


  • 26 November 2019: Launch of Circular Economy Challenge at the 3rd VUB Social Entrepreneurship Fair in Aula QA of VUB Campus Etterbeek. Participants in the Challenge can network with potential team partners and find inspiration during this kick-off fair with more than 40 projects on social entrepreneurship and exciting keynotes.
  • December 20, 2019: Deadline for online registration via, with an English project proposal in max. 500 words.
  • 15 January 2020: Selected teams will receive an invitation to a two-day bootcamp at DigitYzer, a digital innovation centre in the heart of Brussels, where they can convert their idea into a prototype.
  • March 14, 2020: Three finalists present their idea at an event on corporate social responsibility, where the public chooses the winner.


The winning team will receive professional guidance (from experts from the network of the three financing partners) to further develop their idea and will also be able to use the crowdsourcing and crowdfunding platform of the VUB Chair of Social Entrepreneurship. Prof. Dr. Dentchev: "In this way, the university gives the winners of this competition the opportunity to do social business in a risk-free manner." 



Prof. Dr. Dentchev: "There are many topical themes for which companies would like to find a solution. Take the sustainability problem of data storage. Huge amounts of e-mails with heavy attachments, photos and bank details are stored in data centres.  To run them, you need a lot of electricity and emit CO2. Couldn't that be more sustainable?"

Typical for strong 'circular economy' projects is their double positive impact: both on the environment and towards the wallet. Prof. Dr. Nikolay Dentchev finds a successful example of this in the 'Just Keep It Challenge' by VUB alumna Gwenny Nurtantio ( and her book Zero Gaspi (published by Larousse). The former student gives household tips & tricks - also via social media - to reduce food waste and save money, e.g. by freezing fresh herbal leftovers, efficiently cutting a mango or sustainably filling your fridge.

For more information and the competition rules, see

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