ASU, Phoenix call for ventures to innovate for waste prevention and diversion

Friday, April 6, 2018

After a successful launch with nine initial ventures, Arizona State University, in collaboration with the city of Phoenix, renews a call for innovators and entrepreneurs to participate in the RISN Incubator, a diverse solutions business development and accelerator program.

The RISN Incubator assists aspiring new ventures that focus on waste diversion and improvements in processing or utilization of waste as a raw material for new products or energy in the early stages of development. Selected enterprises receive unique access to resources and support from ASU — named the most innovative school in the nation by U.S. News and World Report for three straight years — and Phoenix — named the Top Performing City overall by Governing and Living Cities — to develop solutions that contribute to the regional circular economy.

“We are excited to welcome a new cohort of innovators into the RISN Incubator network that will help drive a vibrant circular economy in this region, a goal our partners at the city of Phoenix are committed to fostering alongside ASU,” said Alicia Marseille, director of the RISN Incubator. “Our initial cohort has seen their ventures receive additional funding, be honored with innovation awards and go through acquisitions from larger corporations.”

The RISN Incubator provides technical assistance, access to technical experts including university faculty and departments like the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering for their advancement, workshops and training, business plan and growth strategy development, access to feedstock from Phoenix’s waste transfer station, and a process for continuous evaluation and pre-qualification for funding opportunities with introductions to funders.

“By cultivating public-private partnerships to turn trash into new products, the city of Phoenix Public Works Department continues to drive the circular economy while stimulating local economic development. This call helps us move forward in continuing to support new ventures, increase our waste diversion rate and create economic impact in our city,” said Ginger Spencer, Phoenix Public Works director.

Startup concepts eligible for the incubator include, but are not limited to: conversion of solid waste into new material or energy; services that divert, reuse, or recycle; and software applications and design services that focus on sustainability. The priority waste feedstocks that the successful ventures will have access to include plastics, batteries, carpeting and carpet foam, broken furniture, mattresses, textiles, food waste, compost and plastic film.

The original cohort commenced in September 2017 with nine ventures that recently concluded their mentorship period within the incubator. Companies within the original cohort included:

• Renewlogy, developer of a proprietary chemical recycling process that allows plastic to be reversed back into its basic molecular structure, converting nonrecycled plastic waste into new valuable products such as high-value fuels. Renewlogy was a winner of the 2017 Arizona Innovation Open.

• Hathority, which specializes in software integration and application development in order to make societal impacts such as reducing landfill waste, improving recycling and changing customer behavior.

• Hygeia, an AI-based sorting device that will efficiently sort waste streams into categorizes such as compost, landfill and recyclables.

“The RISN Incubator has catalyzed our ability to do business better,” said Rhonda Steele, business development director for Hathority. “We are experiencing fast growth, and the incubator’s ability to mentor us at this stage has been key to our progress. Being part of a cohort of amazing and committed entrepreneurs has opened additional doors for collaboration and partnership opportunities we would not otherwise have had.”

Marseille will be a featured judge with the 2018 Sustainable Brands Innovation Open, which culminates in a final presentation and exhibition at Sustainable Brands’ annual conference in Vancouver in June. The winning venture from that challenge will be granted an invitation to join the Fall 2018 RISN Incubator cohort if their business plan meets the incubator’s mission of developing a circular economy.

This call for innovators and entrepreneurs is open until April 27. Find more information and the program application at the RISN Incubator website.