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Circular Economy Day 2024: Launch of the 20 Million Euro InvestCEC Fund

Vienna, April 19, 2024 – Circular Economy Day 2024, presented by Stadtwerke Klagenfurt as part of the EU InvestCEC project, was a significant success. Over 30 participants took part in this inspiring event, which took place on April 18, 2024, at the Lakeside Science & Technology Park. The finalists of the InvestCEC Pitch Competition, a contest designed to assess the potential for collaborations between startups and Stadtwerke Klagenfurt, were given the opportunity to showcase their ideas to an expert jury made up of representatives from Venionaire Capital AG and Stadtwerke Klagenfurt AG.

The two best startups from the InvestCEC Pitch Competition had the opportunity to qualify for a live pitch in front of a prestigious jury. After an intense selection process, AES Autonomous Energy Systems from Merzenich, Germany, and Sustario from Graz, Austria, were invited to present their innovative ideas to Erwin Smole and Nadja Sussitz (both from Stadtwerke Klagenfurt), Berthold Baurek-Karlic (Venionaire Capital), Alexander Mann (StartupCarinthia), and Gernot Bogensberger (Magistrate Klagenfurt) and receive valuable feedback. Ultimately, Marco Karber and Andres Sheldrick from AES Autonomous Energy Systems GmbH, Germany, won with their tested pyrolysis process for transforming unused plastic reserves into valuable oil.

“Venionaire Capital AG warmly congratulates the winners on behalf of the entire InvestCEC consortium for their groundbreaking products and is very pleased that this EU project has found such strong resonance in practice,” explained Lisa Wimmer, EU Project Manager.

Additionally, the Circular Economy Day 2024 marked the kickoff for structuring and launching the InvestCEC Venture Capital Fund, which is to be registered as an Alternative Investment Fund (AIF) under Austrian law, with the risk capital experts of Venionaire Capital AG and its subsidiary Venionaire Investment GmbH acting as fund managers. “The vision for the fund is to promote transformative changes towards a sustainable and circular economy model. This fund will serve as a cornerstone for innovation, collaboration, and investment to advance the circular economy in European regions, with a particular focus on municipal utilities,” explained Venionaire Capital CEO Berthold Baurek-Karlic.

The biggest hurdle in implementing circular economy projects is financing, as these projects are often seen as very risky. During the evaluation, an investment need of around 20 million euros was identified, which must be met with an AIF as a financing vehicle for various investor categories. Potential investors come from various areas: on one hand, so-called Private Professional Investors – i.e., business angels, institutions, foundations, and corporates – and also public investors – i.e., subsidy programs at national and international levels. Public participation plays a crucial role in the successful implementation of regional projects. In the course of financing, there will thus be the opportunity for crowd investing via a specially implemented investment platform. Citizens can directly participate in the sustainable development of their home country and be part of a Europe-wide success process.

Erwin Smole, board member of Stadtwerke Klagenfurt and part of the prestigious jury of Circular Economy Day 2024, expressed his enthusiasm about the event: “We are very proud to work on this forward-looking project together with our long-standing partner, Venionaire Capital. Circular Economy Day 2024 has shown that through collaboration and innovation, we can make a significant contribution to European sustainability.”

The success of Circular Economy Day 2024 underscores the relevance and urgency of initiatives to promote a sustainable circular economy. The collaboration between companies, investors, and political decision-makers will continue to be crucial in addressing the challenges of the 21st century and ensuring a livable future for future generations.

Watch the video below to see the highlights of the Circular Economy Day 2024.