The Basque Government and Bilbao City Council set up the first advanced circular economy services centre in Southern Europe

17 March, 2021 Zabalgarbi Zabalgarbi Noticias EN


Arantxa Tapia, the Basque Government’s Minister for Economic Development, Sustainability and the Environment, and the Mayor of Bilbao, Juan Mari Aburto, today unveiled the Basque Circular Hub, the first advanced circular economy services centre in Southern Europe. This new expertise centre, which will be managed by Ihobe, is the outcome of the public-private partnership between the Basque Government, Bilbao City Council, Deusto University, the University of the Basque Country-UPV-EHU, Mondragón University, the Basque VET Applied Research Centre-Tknika and the Nova Salcedo Foundation.

The Basque Circular Hub is the only centre of its kind in the Spanish State and in Southern Europe offering market outlook and advanced training services, along with trends analyses and generating expertise in the field of the circular economy.

Its goals for 2024 include 1500 companies using the hub’s services, around a hundred teachers and 1200 professionals having received specialised training in the circular economy, and 20 sector watch reports produced. In addition, Ihobe will support the city of Bilbao in the preparation of a circular economy roadmap and the search for innovation solutions to challenges raised by the citizens or the local business fabric.

This innovative centre is one of the instruments to meet the goals of the Circular Economy Strategy 2030 and will help to strengthen Basque industry’s leadership in its transformation towards more sustainable and circular models. As of today, companies of the Basque Country now have at their disposal a wide portfolio of services to enhance their competitiveness by means of integrating circular processes in their production systems.

The Basque Circular Hub will also provide support to new green economy entrepreneurship initiatives and will run advanced training courses for teachers, workers both in employment and the unemployed, and students wishing to specialise in this field. It will therefore be working with Deusto, Mondragón and UPV-EHU universities, the Basque VET Applied Research Centre-Tknika and the Nova Salcedo Foundation in that regard.

At the Basque Circular Hub, currently located in Bilbao’s Auzoko Factory Irazabal-Matiko, Ihobe’s 15 years of extensive experience in developing ecodesign methodologies and programmes to train experts in ecodesign is combined with Bilbao City Council’s track record in backing entrepreneurship. This is reflected in the agreement that both entities have signed to launch this trail-blazing initiative in the Spanish State and Southern Europe.

This initiative is part of the smart specialisation strategy being developed in Bilbao to drive advanced services that respond to the current and future needs of industry and other market options.

The Basque Government’s Minister for Economic Development, Sustainability and the Environment, Arantxa Tapia, and the Mayor of Bilbao, Juan Mari Aburto, have visited the premises of the Basque Circular Hub this morning, where Ihobe’s General Manager, Alexander Boto, showed them the highly-specialised services that this centre will provide for the Basque industrial fabric and for the vocational training & university community.

Four core areas of activity

The Basque Circular Hub covers areas such as new circular business models, ecoinnovation and technologies in the circular economy, new sustainable materials, ecodesign of products and buildings, efficient manufacturing, food waste, consumption of plastics, and circular consumption.

Ihobe is in charge of coordinating all the activity of this centre, whose staff is made up of experts in engineering, economics and marketing.

The centre will be working in four action areas: implementing circular economy projects in Basque companies, acting as the Circular Economy Observatory of the Basque Country, providing advance training in the circular economy, and making technical tools available for companies.

In particular, the focus will be on developing circular economy technical projects in Basque companies with the participation of young professionals trained at the Hub. The companies will have young specialists with the expertise to integrate the circular economy in their processes and the students will be able to access a working environment to put into practice what they have learnt. Specifically, over a thousand young people are expected to have taken part in this activity by 2024.

As the Circular Economy Observatory of the Basque Country, its work will include strategic watch activities to detect new business opportunities, producing roadmaps for emerging businesses, and preparing watch reports adapted to the industrial sectors.

In the field of entrepreneurship, it will support project design and provide guidance on accessing the grants available at any given time.

The expert training activities in the circular economy will play an important role as they will not only be aimed at recent graduates, but also the teaching staff at universities and vocational training centres. This training will also be available for companies that wish to have experts in the area.

A centre located in Bilbao

The Basque Circular Hub is located at Bilbao City Council’s Auzo Factory Irazabal-Matiko entrepreneurship centre, thanks to the agreement signed between Ihobe and the city council, by means of which the City Council provides the space to host the premises of the Hub. At the same time, both entities have undertaken to support and give advice to local entrepreneurship initiatives in the circular economy, as well as to detect business opportunities in this area in sectors such as trade, tourism and the creative industries.

All the Hub’s activity will be available on its corporate website where interested companies can perform a self-assessment of the degree of circularity of their industrial processes, quantify the environmental impacts of their products or visit the virtual exhibition of nearly 200 products ecodesigned by Basque companies and which have already been launched.