The ResilieNtWEB project


Increasing the resiliency of SMEs with eco-innovation

The challenge

Anticipation and adaptation are key to generate eco-innovations that will shape the economic competitive advantage of NWE and ensure job maintenance and creation.

Businesses in NWE are facing common issues of dwindling availability of resources and rising energy prices. In order to remain competitive, the NWE region must be able to adapt to the emerging market environment and anticipate new environmental regulations and consumer demand for sustainable products. They also have to be prepared for higher input prices and energy costs.

The project in brief

ResilieNtWEB used an innovative approach to encourage companies to view the importance and value of using ‘resilience’ as a winning business strategy rather than a costly constraint. This was accomplished through putting eco-efficiency at the core of its programme.

To start, the project developed an ‘eco-innovation’ toolkit to coach companies and make them resilient to economic, environmental, and social changes. The toolkit’s methodology enabled companies to identify the area where innovation is required, design, implement, evaluate, and adjust the project’s focus.

Then, ResilieNtWEB targeted SMEs in the food, construction, and tourism sectors and aimed to improve their business model and strategy by using creativity, collaboration, and as few natural resources as possible. Overall, ResilieNtWEB helped 71 companies to establish 30 short-term and 37 long-term action plans.

By helping SMEs to understand the importance of developing ‘eco-efficient’ products and services, and their pivotal role in the circular economy, they increased the sustainability of the businesses, reduced energy costs, and increased collaboration in the value chains.

ResilieNtWEB used an innovative approach to encourage companies to view the importance and value of using ‘resilience’ as a winning business strategy rather than a costly constraint.

The impact

One example of their impact is PermaFungi, a Brussels-based start-up that ResilieNtWEB assisted. The company produced oyster mushrooms for consumption using the leftover coffee grounds from local cafés and restaurants as a growing medium. To help close the loop, PermaFungi then went and delivered its mushrooms to the very same cafés and restaurants.

ResilieNtWEB’s coaches used the project toolkit to draw up an action plan for the company, and two main ideas emerged. First, the need to secure a regular supply of coffee grounds and second, the need to diversify its product portfolio. The company successfully applied these ideas and secured a steady supply of coffee grounds from the chain EXKI, in addition to organising co-creation activities to diversify its portfolio. As a result, the company was able to increase its production and created four full-time jobs.

Through this innovative project, the tools used to support companies brought an added value as they helped companies generate and implement new eco-actions. Additionally, businesses realised that the most pressing problems related to sustainability can be best tackled by collaborating directly with suppliers, clients and even competitors. They also proved that ‘resilience’ can be an integral part of a successful business strategy.

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