The role of startups in the circular economy of 2050
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Since the turn of the millenium resource prices have been rising and it has become apparent that a linear approach to our ecosystem is not longer viable. Therefore, the transition to a circular economy where minimal waste is created is critical. The Dutch government has set the goal to reach a circular economy by 2050. Businesses are the pillars of society and can induce this change, especially startups carry out concerns and implement responsible business models. This research is based on the theory of technological innovation systems. In this theory, entrepreneurial activity is recognized as one of the most important and change-inducing functions. Therefore, the question posed in this research is the following: What role can startups play in the buildup of the innovation system towards a circular economy in 2050? A historical event analysis has been conducted, events were classified over time whereby causal relations between important events have been identified. Moreover, interviews have been done with Utrecht-based startups, asking them about their view on the circular economy and the drivers and barriers they encountered in the establishment of their business. It can be concluded that startups are an important starting point within the innovation system of the circular economy. Startups guide other actors within the innovation system and lead to the fulfilment of several functions. In this way they contribute positively to the buildup of the technological innovation system of the circular economy. However, it has become clear that the success of entrepreneurial activity is heavily dependent on functions related to governmental actions, goals and tax regimes. Therefore, this research can provide interesting findings to governmental institutions, as well as startups, on how to accelerate the transition to the circular economy.