Today’s linear economy – where we extract resources, make something, use it, and then throw it away – creates an amazing amount of waste. Yes, waste in terms of energy and materials, but also waste in terms of a missed opportunity for delivering greater value to consumers, companies, and brands.
The circular economy movement, on the other hand, embraces a totally different model. In a circular economy, producers instead use and reuse a product (or its components) at the highest value for as long as possible, rather than creating a single-use product that ends up in the landfill. Reuse, refurbishing, remanufacturing, recycling and upcycling are just some of the ways businesses are turning waste from linear supply chains back into valuable products.
We’re still a way off from a fully circular economy. Fragmented supply chains, high costs of switching production methods, and a lack of standardization from today’s linear ways are among the challenges holding up the evolution.
Embracing circular practices in business
At the Autodesk Foundation, we invest in technologies and solutions that overcome these barriers to change. Autodesk, too, has an outsized role to play in helping its industries make better design decisions, use better materials more effectively, and use data to discover circular production capabilities. We know that 80% of a product’s environmental cost and performance is locked in from the start, at the design and conceptual phase. So it’s critical that designers, product developers, and manufacturers have tools that consider a product’s end-of-life value from the very beginning.
We are convinced that businesses that embrace circular practices – while staying aligned with their shareholders, customers, and communities – will be tremendously valuable in the long run. And the startups overcoming supply chain fragmentation and helping these companies innovate and remain transparent to their stakeholders will be equally valuable. That’s why we’re excited to announce our $1 million investment in Closed Loop Ventures Group’s Fund II, a $50+ million venture capital fund investing in early-stage companies developing breakthrough solutions for the circular economy.
Why Closed Loop Ventures Group’s Fund II?
Closed Loop Ventures Group (CLVG) is the venture capital arm of Closed Loop Partners (CLP), a family of funds investing in innovations across plastics and packaging, food and agriculture, fashion, and supply chain optimization technology. Closed Loop Partners differentiates itself from other funds with its targeted thesis on circularity, its distributed fund strategy across asset classes, its deep partnerships with local governments and municipalities, and its bench of corporate limited partnerships (LPs).
The Autodesk Foundation was one of the first corporate LPs in CLVG Fund I in 2017. Since then, CLVG has built a leading portfolio of 19 companies, ranging from pre-seed to Series A funding stages, across material science, robotics, agritech, sustainable consumer products, and advanced technologies. Companies like HomeBiogas, AMP Robotics, and Algramo are validating the thesis that business models that turn waste into value, or avoid waste altogether, can create immense value for businesses, communities, and the environment.
In addition to earning top-tier growth and returns, the CLVG portfolio has in aggregate mitigated 380,000 tons of CO2e, reduced 305,000 tons of waste, saved 545 million gallons of water, and created 344 jobs*.
Scaling our support alongside the Closed Loop Ventures Group expands the portfolio and systems approach needed to accelerate the transition to a circular economy. And, importantly to Autodesk and the industries it serves, it scales emerging design and manufacturing approaches that make circular design possible. Take Partsimony, a CLVG Fund II company, for example. Parsimony enables hardware companies to build intelligent manufacturing supply chains by unifying engineering specs and manufacturing supply chain data. In doing so, Partsimony can provide valuable insights around which manufacturers to partner with, what designs to consider, and how to create more resilience in the supply chain. Taken together, the insights make the entire manufacturing industry more efficient and resilient, enabling manufactures to also source more local, sustainable materials.
When Closed Loop Partners was founded in 2014, the term “circularity” didn’t exist outside niche sustainability conferences. Today, it’s a regular part of research agendas, business plans, and corporate strategies. But there’s more work to do. We believe that working with Closed Loop Partners to help scale their venture capital portfolio can usher in a new era of environmental, social, and business value for Autodesk, our customers, and the world.
Our collaboration to accelerate the transition to a circular economy
As with all companies in our portfolio, CLVG, along with its portfolio, have access to Autodesk software solutions, Autodesk pro bono consultants, and Autodesk industry networks.
The Autodesk Foundation is excited to offer Autodesk resources to accelerate the transition to a circular economy.
Learn more about how low-carbon innovations can mitigate the negative impacts of climate change and usher in a decarbonized economy in the Autodesk Foundation’s impact brief.
*As of Closed Loop Partners’ 2020 impact report.