Business4Change Hackathon

Business4Change is a 4-day hackathon contest, organised to 'hack' or solve issues businesses are facing in their transition to the circular economy. The hackathon emphasizes the potential of social innovation and the role of new business models in the circular economy. Business4Change is an initiative of the European Commission and will take place on 11-16 November 2020 online in tandem with the European Business Summit.

Over the course of 4 days, different teams will compete against each other to come up with innovative and creative solutions to solve a practical challenge related to the circular economy. The challenges are selected in collaboration with challenge owners and experts representing companies, associations, and NGOs. Leading up to the hackathon, selected experts will share their knowledge on the circular economy with the participants.  On the second day, teams will pitch their ideas via a live broadcast and compete to win mentorship opportunities from Suez, AbInBev and Vinventions! 

We need your help solve circular economy challenges using social innovation!

What does this mean?
The circular economy is an economic system aiming to eliminate waste through the reuse, repair, recycling or sharing of materials to minimise the use of resource inputs and the creation of waste pollution. The aim for the circular economy is to keep products and infrastructure in use for longer and to maximimize the regeneration of these resources as much as possible. Solving circular economy problems using social innovation means that proposed solutions should be geared towards creating social value and meeting societal needs.



July 2020 - Apply with your team
September 29, 2020
Apply with your team
Early September - Brainstorm ideas
September-October 2020
Brainstorm ideas
September - Join a webinar to get trained
October 12-16 2020
Join a webinar to receive training
The hackathon Ends
11-16 November 2020
Take part in online Hackathon
Pitch your idea to experts
16 November 2020
Pitch your idea to the jury
Demos & Awards
16 November 2020
Win a prize!

Participate in the Business4Change Hackathon!

We are looking for motivated teams to come up with creative business solutions for challenges businesses and organisations are facing in their efforts to become more sustainable. The challenges for the Business4Change Hackathon will be based on issues the Challenge Owners face in their day-to-day operations. The hackathon focuses on finding socially innovative solutions and business models to enable the transition to a more circular economy. The circular economy aims to maintain the value of products, materials, and resources for as long as possible by returning them into the product cycle at the end of their use, while minimising the generation of waste.

Register now until September 29!

  • Participants have to be based in a country participating in the COSME programme of the European Union. This includes all EU countries as well as some non-EU countries.
  • Teams must be composed of 3 to 5 members.
  • All kinds of academic and professional backgrounds are welcome to participate, including students, entrepreneurs and professionals.
  • Teams with interdisciplinary backgrounds are encouraged. The more innovative and creative your team, the better!

Individuals can try to find a team for the hackathon via our LinkedIn group . On the group you can search for like-minded participants and ask questions to the organisers.

The Challenge Owners selected for the hackathon will assist the organisers in selecting the teams according to the selection criteria*.

Challenge 1

The Challenge: How to reduce the supply chain cost of waste plastics packaging? Help SUEZ reduce the supply chain cost of waste plastics packaging!

Let's talk about plastics! The amount of plastic produced in Europe today is 50 times what it was 50 years ago (with over 8 billion tons of plastic being produced by industries since 1950 alone). To complicate this even further, each year, the transport of hundreds of millions of tons of waste has an immense impact on society. Just to give you a perspective, this accounts for 30% of the greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) generated in waste management (which is the equivalent of several million tons of CO2). SUEZ processes more than 400,00 tons of plastics each year to produce 100,000 tons of recycled polymers. The challenge is that the characteristic of plastic packaging waste is its very low density generating high logistic costs between the point of collection until the gate of the reprocessing plant (about 50 % of the total recycling costs). We are looking for innovative ideas to reduce logistics costs across the supply chain.


Why is a new business model needed? These costs are a crucial bottleneck in making recycled plastics competitive against virgin ones.

What is the sectoral impact? Increase the long-term viability of the recycled plastic sector facing very low virgin plastic prices. In addition, there is over 100 million euros in potential business impact.

What is the societal impact? Collecting more plastic means less plastic in the environment and a decrease in CO2 emission linked to transport.

The Prize: If you win you are eligible for the following opportunity

The winners of this challenge will be provided with an internship opportunity at SUEZ. There is also the possibility for them to receive a PhD opportunity or eventually to become one of the employees in one of SUEZ Business Units or research centers around the world.

Are you interested in this challenge? Click here to register your team now!

Challenge 2

The Challenge: Sustainable business models for the collection and sorting of beverage closures.

Finding recycling solutions for beverage closures (wine corks, steel/aluminum bottle caps). Belgian-based Vinventions, one of the most innovative sustainable wine closure companies, has teamed up with global drinks brand Ab InBev to develop a challenge for our teams which looks at a crucial issue in the circular economy: What to do with small items that have limited value for the consumer once past its usage and where current recycling systems are inadequate?

A beverage closure is simply the method used to seal the drink container during production. In the context of this challenge, we are talking about two specific types of closures:

• Wine Corks

• Steel Bottle Caps

At the moment these products are not properly recycled, even though it is possible to do so. A first challenge arises at the collection stage: there is no specific scheme for collecting those products (in a dedicated bag, or through a deposit return system like bottles and cans). Once in the sorting centre, wine corks cannot be separated from other materials (like glass, aluminum, steel and plastic containers) through the use of machines. As a result, the majority of wine corks are burnt in an incinerator or end up going to landfill. Due to their small size, collected steel/aluminum caps fall through the screeners and are overlooked for recovery.

In an effort to avoid pollution from potentially recyclable materials, we need innovative ideas! We are looking for zero-cost solutions at the collection and sorting stages. Ideas for upcycling those products are also welcome (but optional).


Why is a new business model needed? Vinventions and Ab InBev aim to improve the amount of beverage closures recycled. The key challenge is to give value to those products once they are used. While there is already an environmental value, consumers need to consider that those products have an economic and material value by not contributing to the waste of our planet.

What is the sectoral impact?  The solution could be utilized by the entire beverage sector and be scaled-up to small-sized products that are not effectively recycled in other sectors (plastic bags, etc.) There is therefore a high potential for generating good practices based on this challenge.

What is the impact on society? We need to make the recycling of these products a normal habit of our daily lives. A society with less waste benefits consumers, producers and the planet. It also protects people’s health by reducing pollution in the air, water and soil by keeping toxins and waste out of landfills and incinerators.

What is the scaling-up potential? Every year, the equivalent of over 31 billion bottles of wine are consumed worldwide (source: Recork) and 370 million hectoliters of beers are consumed in Europe, which is the equivalent of 98 billion bottles of 33cl (source: The Brewers of Europe).

The Prizes: If you win you will be eligible for the following opportunity: a 6 to 8-week internship or mentorship and coaching from both companies to further incubate or accelerate the winning idea, with access to Vinventions’ sustainability and operational excellence experts, and Ab InBev’s accelerator and start-up ecosystem.

Are you interested in this challenge? Click here to register your team now!

Subscribe to our newsletter for more information!


For more information about the event please contact: 

Anya Gregory, Communications and Research Manager at European Business Summit 

Carlotta Traverso, Communications and Operations Assistant at European Business Summit

The location

Due to the ongoing pandemic, this year's Business4Change Hackathon will take place online.
Welcome to Booth.

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