The social-circular hubs are local partnerships: in their region they boost new circular entrepreneurship with a social impact. The partnerships are deliberately diverse, with companies, tailor-made companies, city or municipal governments, knowledge institutions, social profit organizations, ... on board.
What will the hubs do?
The hubs are the point of contact for local entrepreneurs who want to build the bridge between circular and social economy. The hubs stimulate mutual cooperation and innovation and offer their knowledge and network. Most hubs focus on a selection of sectors that are important for their environment, such as ICT, textiles or food.
The hubs realize their goals with network events, info points, hackatons*, trainings, material cards, coaching, and so on.
*A hackathon is an event in which participants with different areas of expertise work as a team to try to solve a problem in a short period of time.
Why do the hubs exist?
On the one hand, we are in an ecological crisis: our use of raw materials has an unsustainable impact on the planet. This impact must be contained. On the other hand, we are very vulnerable: most of the raw materials in our economy come from abroad. Supply shocks are felt here immediately: at the pump, in stores, on building sites. The competition for raw materials will only increase. This dependence on foreign raw materials must therefore also be reduced.
The message is therefore to deal more efficiently with raw materials, energy, water, space and food by closing material cycles. Moreover, if we do this intelligently, there are also social gains to be made: especially in the form of affordability of our needs and the creation of new jobs. The transition to a circular economy is therefore an important ambition of the Flemish government.
However, converting these ambitions into concrete actions and sustainable earning models is not easy for entrepreneurs. For this, networks, information, practical examples and guidance are needed.
For social circular entrepreneurship -at the crossroads between social and 'ordinary' circular economy- until recently there was a gap in that kind of offer. However, for the social economy there are great opportunities in the circular economy. Just think of jobs in repair and maintenance, laundry services of reusable items, sorting work, take-back logistics and so on. That is why ministers Hilde Crevits, responsible for social economy, and Zuhal Demir, responsible for environment, support the 12 regional social-circular hubs.
Which 12 hubs are there?
De Keet Aalst
Circular Hub Brugge
Circulaire HUB Sociale en Reguliere Economie Genk
Sociaal-Circulaire Hub Gent
Sociaal-Circulaire Hub Kempen+
CICO HUB Kortrijk
CE hub regio Mechelen
Repair zkt HUB(s) (4 regio's)
Smart Loops Vlaams-Brabant
Who supports the hubs?
The hubs receive financial support for their operation until the end of 2022 from:
Department of Work & Social Economy (ESF & Sustainable Entrepreneurship division and the Social Economy & Workable Work division);
The grant covers a maximum of 80% of the operating costs and is capped at 160,000 euros per hub. In the exploration phase, after a pre-selection, the hubs received 15,000 euros to further shape their project.
The King Baudouin Foundation is also involved. They are financing the learning network between the 12 hubs. Thanks to this network, the hubs can easily learn from each other, they do not have to invent everything themselves and the outside world can also learn.