Creating a Sustainable Future: Unlock the Potential of a Circular Economy

photo of energy-saving lightbulbs

In Creating a Sustainable Future: Unlock the Potential of a Circular Economy, the Digital, Data, and Design (D^3) Institute and Freelancer have partnered to host a crowdsourcing competition to learn new ways to adopt the circular economy for impact across business and sustainability.

The circular economy, which is a model of production and consumption which involves reusing, repairing and recycling existing materials, is a big playing field with countless opportunities ranging from obvious to breakthrough.

Businesses are embracing a broad spectrum of circular economy solutions, from Apple’s program for consumers to trade in used electronic devices, to Resortecs’ dissolvable stitching which facilitates the recyclability of textiles in fast fashion.

The ‘Creating a Sustainable Future’ challenge is seeking submissions for circular economy ideas that can be implemented by companies either now or in the future. Ideas submitted can either be a brief or comprehensive description of a circular economy concept aimed at addressing a challenge or showcasing a potential opportunity.

The contest submissions will go on to help Harvard researchers understand new and innovative circular economy solutions that can be adopted by businesses.

“We’re excited to partner with Harvard to launch a global challenge that will help researchers study and learn about new opportunities in the circular economy. Harvard is at the forefront of innovation and we’re thrilled to help the team elevate their research. We can’t wait to see the ideas our freelancers put forward,” said Matt Barrie, Chief Executive at

“We are delighted to present this open innovation challenge at the Climate and Sustainability Lab at D^3, which will enable businesses to create breakthrough circular economy solutions that deliver both financial and environmental impact,” said George Serafeim, Charles M. Williams Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School.

The circular economy is a systems solution framework that tackles global challenges like climate change, biodiversity loss, waste, and pollution. Its three main principles are to eliminate waste and pollution, circulate products and materials and regenerate nature.

Each submission will be reviewed and evaluated in four spaces, including: environmental impact of the solution, financial impact of the solution, novelty and originality of the idea, and how likely the concept is to scale and succeed.

Top solutions in this challenge will receive an invitation to participate virtually in an exclusive Circular Economy Catalyst event hosted at Harvard Business School in April 2023 to learn what leading companies, startups, and investors are doing in the circular economy.

The creator of the best submission will receive a cash prize and be presented with an official trophy from the D^3 Institute at Harvard.

To learn more about the challenge, please visit:

(text from the official Press Release.)

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