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Circulate Capital Incubator Network to Accelerate Ocean Plastic Solutions in Asia

Image credit: 翔音/Unsplash

Circulate Capital, the impact-focused investment management firm dedicated to financing companies, projects and infrastructure that prevent ocean plastic; and SecondMuse, a global business accelerator that works with local stakeholders, leading corporations and government agencies to build resilient economies, today announced the launch of The Incubator Network by Circulate Capital and SecondMuse, a new initiative to accelerate solutions to ocean plastic waste by partnering with existing incubators to build ecosystems of waste management and recycling innovators. The two organizations developed The Incubator Network in partnership with Ocean Conservancy — a leading ocean protection nonprofit and founding member of the Closed Loop Ocean initiative — and is supported by a new grant from the U.S. State Department. The Incubator Network’s first collaborative project, the Ocean Plastic Prevention Accelerator, is also supported by the Australian Government's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Circulate anticipates unlocking more than $20 million in funding for The Incubator Network from foundations, corporations, and development agencies. The firm made the announcement earlier today at the G7 Oceans Partnership Summit in Halifax, Canada.

“For the last decade, SecondMuse has been using business accelerators to build economies that create social and environmental justice,” said SecondMuse co-founder Todd Khozein. “In doing so, we have learned that the most resilient economies are those that are inclusive and adaptive to local circumstances. For a problem as big as ocean plastics, we need precisely these kinds of robust innovation ecosystems in cities throughout the region and we are thrilled to be partnering with Circulate Capital and the Ocean Conservancy to accomplish this.“

By partnering with existing incubator initiatives, The Incubator Network seeks to rapidly scale the number of innovators in the sector, enabling eco-systems and support for those innovations. At launch, incubation partners include:

  • Ocean Plastic Prevention Accelerator
  • WeWork Labs India, and
  • McKinsey.org

“The Incubator Network by Circulate Capital and SecondMuse will provide financial and technical resources to increase the quality and quantity of companies and programs working to stop plastic leakage to the ocean and environment in South and Southeast Asia,” said Rob Kaplan, founder and CEO of Circulate Capital. “As our team has been developing financing mechanisms for the region, we have recognized that incubation, technical assistance and capacity building is critically needed to improve the opportunities for all investors in the space.

“We are grateful to the U.S. Department of State and our corporate partners for their support and to the Ocean Conservancy for their continued collaboration. Our goals are ambitious, but we are inspired by the tremendous strides already being made by our initial incubator partners — Ocean Plastic Prevention Accelerator, WeWork Labs India and McKinsey.org.”

The Incubator Network will initially focus on supporting incubation activities located in Indonesia and India, with additional interest in Vietnam, Thailand and The Philippines, and is currently looking to partner with additional incubator partners and programs.

More than half of the 8 million metric tons of plastic that flow into the ocean every year come from developing countries in South and Southeast Asia, where waste management has lagged behind rapid economic growth. Analysis shows that a 45 percent reduction in plastic leakage is possible by improving waste management and recycling infrastructure in the five countries where Circulate operates.

“The launch today of Circulate Capital’s Incubator Network marks an exciting leap forward in a journey Ocean Conservancy began many years ago to reduce the amount of trash in the ocean,” said Chever Voltmer, Plastics Initiative Director for Ocean Conservancy. “After over 30 years of organizing the International Coastal Cleanup and cataloging the items washing up on shorelines around the world, we know we need to go upstream to solve the problem. Through the Incubator Network, we can leverage the strengths of partners in government, business, academia and non-governmental organizations to bring together the political, economic, financial and social pieces needed to solve this complex puzzle. Ocean Conservancy is proud to support Circulate Capital and, through our work together, looks forward to a future free of marine debris.”

Lifting the lives of female workers

Female workers play a role at all levels in the waste management chain, but most dramatically at the bottom. With this in mind, a primary focus of The Incubator Network is to advance opportunities for women in its countries of operation, and it will address this objective in its first partnership with the Ocean Plastic Prevention Accelerator, as well as in other locations as the project scales.

Circulate Capital, launched in July and operating in India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, has an open Request For Proposal (RFP) process for businesses located in these countries and is working on solutions that address ocean plastic and seeking capital to accelerate their work. Interested businesses may apply here.

For more information on how incubation programs can join The Incubator Network, please click here.


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