The move toward a more circular economy is contingent on many things – transparent supply chains being one of them.
Here to talk about how he is using technology such as blockchain to bring transparency and trusted data sharing to global supply chains is Jordi de Vos, Co-Founder of Circularise.
We kick things off with Jordi talking about the research that Circularise was born from before getting into the challenges of moving from local pilot projects to tracing supply chains globally.
We talk about resolving the seemingly contradictory aims of bringing transparency to supply chains while keeping information private as well as the issue of trust and how easy it is for companies to lie about the origins of a given product.
Next up, we take a dive into how Circularise works, hearing Jordi describe how it uses blockchain technology to create an information highway where a ‘digital twin’ of a product is created at its conception and then updated as it makes its way from one point to another.
Jordi also explains how collaboration, open source and open standards are vital for their vision.
Toward the end of our conversation, we explore how third party validators can enhance trustability along the information highway, how different tracers can ensure products are what their digital twins say they are, and the value of open source technology in achieving the Circularise vision.
For all this and more on transparent supply chains and the circular economy, tune in!
Jordi de Vos
Jordi is an early blockchain aficionado with a business background.
"Temporarily" trading his MBA to run Circularise- a company that helps manufacturers, brands and OEMs to trace raw materials from source into parts and ultimately to end products and share data about them while retaining privacy over sensitive information.
Jordi has been a tireless entrepreneur since his first year of Bachelor studies.
For the last four years, he’s been committed to implementing state of the art technologies into circular economy solutions for a more sustainable planet.
“Circularise is bringing transparency to global supply chains but in a way that you can keep your sensitive data private." - Jordi de Vos, @Jrdevos
Tune in to find out:
How Circularise was born from research about how people can recycle more effectively.
Privacy, tracing supply chains globally, and how Circularise works with block-chain technology.
Moving from pilot projects to global suppliers and why the latter care about privacy.
Bridging transparency and privacy in the context of global supply chains; the main problem Circularise tries to solve.
Letting the market decide which information is transparent versus private.
How sharing information about what is in a product can help the recycling process.
The place of trust in supply chain transparency and how easy it is for companies to lie.
Interest from the brand and producer side for technology that Circularise offers
Creating a peer pressure scenario where everybody in the supply chain joins the transparency trend.
How Circularise enforces transparency by creating a ‘digital twin’ that traces a supply chain.
Circularise’s methods for ensuring privacy using ‘zero knowledge’ proofs.
Keeping information private but also trustworthy by incorporating third party validators.
Challenges to ensuring a product is the same as its digital twin; tracers and more.
How companies might decide which tracers and authenticators to implement.
Honoring circularity by making the Circularise technology open source.
Explaining the problem Circularise solves in order to sell the solution it offers.
What working towards a more circular economy means personally to Jordi.
How to find Circularise online and learn more about what they do.
And much more!
Links mentioned in this episode:
Read our follow up article:
“We are making the [Circular Supply Chain] information highway but we don’t decide what information needs to go in there.” — Jordi de Vos, @Jrdevos
Barry O'Kane 0:05
Hello, and welcome back to HappyPorchRadio. In this season, we're talking all things Circular Economy and digital technology. In this episode, we're talking to Jordi, who is an early blockchain aficionado with a business background. He is co founder of Circularise, a company that helps manufacturers, brands and OEMs to trace raw materials from source into parts and ultimately to end products. And then share that data about them while retaining privacy over sensitive information. Emily, I, I find that really fascinating. I'm really interested in the technology. But actually the part that is more inspiring or I guess, more relevant, even to technologists, is the purpose and the reason that they're doing it. And then understanding how the technology solves some of these problems, rather than being led by cool technology.
Emily Swaddle 0:58
Yeah, it was really interesting one for me. I'm not particularly into all the technology side. And sometimes even the word blockchain like makes me freeze up a little bit. But I was really grateful for Jordi's clear explanation of everything that Circularise does, and how the system works to allow for transparency. But also privacy, which was a really interesting line to me that that's the balancing act that they're performing there every day. Very interesting.
Barry O'Kane 1:29
Yeah. And another thing that stood out for me that I think is a consistent theme, as I think I've tried to say to Jordi, but a consistent theme is that people who are genuinely trying to solve a problem or have an impact would be much more open to things like collaboration, and in this case, open source, or open data standards, or anything open in order to have that genuine impact rather than, sort of, and make the cake bigger and better for all of us, rather than hoard their own tiny few crumbs.
Emily Swaddle 2:01
Yeah, when that's your motivation when it's coming from a place of 'I actually want to solve this problem', rather than kind of personal gain or or gain for the company or organisation. It is interesting how then that changes people's use of data and transparency and how we look at those issues. So yeah, I agree. I think it's a really interesting point.
Barry O'Kane 2:25
Excellent. And so without any further ado, let's meet Jordi.
Jordi de Vos 2:34
Hi, my name is Jordi. And I'm one of the founders of Circularise, a company that is going to bring transparency to global supply chains, but in such a way that you can keep your sensitive data private.
Barry O'Kane 2:47
Thank you so much. Welcome to the show. It's brilliant having you here. And I'm really looking forward to this. I'm really interested in talking about technology, as well as learning more about; I'm really fascinated by your purpose and the vision that you have. So I thought that might be a good place to start a little bit to do a kind of a history check in you and your co-founder started Circularise. Is that right?
Jordi de Vos 3:07
Yeah, that's correct. We started in, in 2016 already. And it was based out of the master thesis of my co founder, who was studying at the Delft University at the time.
Barry O'Kane 3:17
Awesome. And so did that come about as a, how much of it is driven by interest in the technology? And how much is which is really fascinating, I think in itself, and how much is driven by you know, tackling this problem? And I know the project, you focus on plastics a lot, but the problem generically of supply chain management and tracking and managing to share all that information in a transparent and yet secure way.
Jordi de Vos 3:43
Yes, when we started, we really started with with the problem. So it was a master's thesis was about critical materials, which is a subset of materials for a certain location, for instance, a European Union that are very critical to our economy, but yet there can be all kinds of risks to them on why we cannot I get them anymore? So this can be just geographical? Because it could be political, for instance. And we started off by looking at what happens with these materials, we found out that the people were just throwing them away, quite literally. So in electronics, for instance, and recyclers, we're not getting these materials out, at least not in the ratio that we would love to see. We really started out with this this problem, like how can we make sure that we can make at least make a good choice when we when we recycle something, for instance, that we can really capture the value instead of just averaging everything out and losing a lot of precious materials. That journey has brought us like to all kinds of places like when we first started, we had this idea like, yeah, we're gonna just inform people about this, and they will change. Being consultants of sorts. And really, by keeping this investigation going into the problem, we ended up where we are today. So our technology, it's purely driven by the problem itself. So we're not bound to one tech, we're not like a real tech startup, I would say where you have a technology and just try to sell that to whoever wants it. It's really the fixing the problem.
Barry O'Kane 5:09
And that doesn't surprise me from from what I know about the business. And and I can see you in some of the content and the things that you think, with the work that the company is doing that it's really driven by that goal. How did you then go from "This is a problem we want to solve"? Was there an immediate step towards the direction of the technology that you have at the moment blockchain and so on? Or what were their interim steps? Was it a sort of more winding road?
Jordi de Vos 5:35
We did already have some or at least myself, I had some knowledge about blockchain before so that jump was was very quick, I would say. But still everything was was research driven. So for the first couple of years, we just spent all our time on researching this problem, and especially the privacy part of it. That's I think, where we spend most of our time, because we see on small scale, it's quite easy to do pilots on traceability in supply chains, because you're dealing with such a limited amount of partners in there. But when you really try to tackle this problem globally, means that you're going to have people on your system that don't really want to work together with each other for whatever reason, or don't want to share certain information. And that is where the where the bottleneck is, as we try to fix.
Barry O'Kane 6:21
So, have you got an example to try and bring those two things to life? So as you said, in a small pilot scenario, maybe you've got one supplier or something like that? Is that what you mean? So there's this relatively small chain?
Jordi de Vos 6:34
Well, what we've seen also from other companies is that there's usually a small consortium that's being formed around a pilot. And in that case, you can have all kinds of agreements and people are usually more willing to share. But when you talk about like a real global supply chain of plastics, for instance, all these these these other things come into play like yeah, my competitor is also on the system and I don't want you to see the volume that I'm shipping to someone And don't want to see the actual contents of what I'm shipping, etc, etc. So that's why it can work in a pilot. But bringing it to bigger stages is quite difficult.
Barry O'Kane 7:10
Yeah, because in the pilot, there's the participants know each other. And there's, they're, they're starting from a certain position of trust.
Jordi de Vos 7:18
And then there are always other supply chains that maybe have traders in between. And of course, they're in it's in their best interest that you not know everything, because that's how they make their money.
Emily Swaddle 7:31
Hmm, that's interesting. I'm a bit of a layman when it comes to the technology side, but I really, you know, you mentioned in the beginning this idea of transparency and privacy, and those things kind of seem like they clash immediately as two things that you're trying a kind of core to what you're doing. Did you immediately see that as a problem, or did you immediately see that as part of the solution?
Jordi de Vos 7:59
I think we were very fast in finding out that was the main problem that we actually had to solve. Because we know when we look at, for instance, the content of products, we know that somewhere in the supply chain, there's a person that knows exactly what's in that material. But somehow this is lost while they are transacting all of this. So we set out to make that information highway basically to make sure that you can confidently share parts of the information that you know will help at later stage but you also still keep your own position a secret, or whatever, you want to keep a secret basically.
Emily Swaddle 8:36
And so then how is it decided what that information is what what's kind of enough information to be transparent enough, but also private enough?
Jordi de Vos 8:47
So honestly, the way we set it up is that it's not up to us to decide what that information should be or what is right and what is wrong. But we see this as something that the market is already figuring out. So if you look for instance, to the textile supply chain, there, you see that there's a lot of openness already required. Because also in the past, we've seen all these kinds of disasters, and scandals that now warrant this this level of transparency. And when we look at plastics, they're not there yet. So there's differences in there. So the way our system works is that you can have your, for instance, your bill of material, so whatever the contents are of your products, and it's very, very specific. But you're not sharing that you're only sharing maybe an average or maybe you're saying that your that the product contains this material. So for instance, for flatscreen television, for instance, it's very important for the recycler to know whether there's mercury inside because in the past, we used to have this tube filled with mercury for the backlight of the television. If it's in there, and you throw the television in the in the shredder at the recycling process, and the mercury flies everywhere and you have this big environmental problem. But if you know that it's in there, then you can decide to maybe take a television apart by hand, remove the tube, and then go further right. And that's just knowing about one material can already make such a difference.
Unknown Speaker 10:11
Right. So in that case, actually, the specific information that is shared is going to be essential when it comes to safety further down the line in the in the lifespan of that product.
Jordi de Vos 10:23
Yeah. So it can be, can be something like that, where you you say that the material is present, for instance, or maybe you say a quantity. I mean, we've seen this in the past, right with all the houses with asbestos. But if we, if we had the technology, then to record where we kept the asbestos, it would save us a lot of time and effort now. And so that's basically the mindset where you can make that link even at a later stage. And it still depends on on what the market wants and what you decided you are comfortable with sharing, of course, but at least we have this link already there.
Emily Swaddle 10:58
Yeah. And how do you feel the market is evolving. You mentioned that there being kind of scandals in the textile industry around the way things are produced and the supply chain there. You think we're moving towards a more transparent marketplace in general?
Jordi de Vos 11:14
Oh, yeah, absolutely. So we know that that consumers are getting more critical about what products they're buying and what what's in there. So yeah, we see that consumers are changing. So they're getting more and more demanding on to know what they're buying, how's it produced? What does it contain? That's, of course, great. But on the other side, we also see that regulation is changing. And just, I think one week ago, the European Parliament pushed through another regulation about greenwashing, on how companies can't say that they do something good or green, because right now that's just the Wild West and you can claim anything, but that's also changing.
Emily Swaddle 11:55
So what do you think are the potential issues that come along with becoming more transparent. Because obviously, transparency at the minute in the marketplace, I feel like we talk about it in a really positive way that the more transparency, the better. But I'm aware that with any kind of extreme, if we get all the way to the point that everything's transparent, that's going to come with its own issues, right?
Jordi de Vos 12:20
Yeah, so the biggest issues are, what are their number? I think the first one is, the bigger you are as a company, the more easy it is to become more transparent, because you have such a big say, towards your suppliers. So especially for the smaller companies, it's a lot more difficult to do so. But then also, if you're too transparent, you might risk your position in this whole value chain, because part of but what you're selling is your knowledge, your knowledge and network.
Emily Swaddle 12:50
Yeah, there's a certain amount of underlying trust that is, is kind of present in all of this in terms of the information that producers share and different actors in the supply chain share, and also trust and how that information is used. How do you kind of work with trust in Circularise?
Jordi de Vos 13:16
Yeah, so the grand vision of that we that we're trying to achieve is that we're actually removing trust from this equation. Or at least bring it down to one single point. Because right now we know that there's, indeed relies on trust, and it's so easy to manipulate. And there are lots and lots of financial incentives to do so as well. So one recent example would be with the declining oil price, the price of virgin PET has also gone down quite hard, which now means that the value or the price of recycled PET is actually higher than virgin. So just lying about the origin of this material and just saying, Well, yeah, this is recycled PET. Already got you so much more money. It's crazy. It's an easy lie right, no one really gets hurt about it.
So it's easy for companies to do.
Barry O'Kane 14:06
Yeah, that's really interesting and I'd really like to come back to that trust piece. And and I guess the blockchain or the technology, as you say, to try and remove or change that conversation. But I'm also one of the things you mentioned there was all the different people in the supply chain or, or who might be driving this process and from consumers. But who do you find, where in the supply chain are the people that are is your first point of contact, if you like, Who were the people who were initially going, Okay, we were trying to solve this problem. We need this technology in place.
Jordi de Vos 14:40
Yeah, so we're basically approaching that from two sides. On one hand, you know, the the brands they of course, one is they're very vocal about their KPIs that they have on achieving this. So we have claimed that they want to go for instance to recycle plastics in 2025 or something like that. But then on the other side, you actually have these material manufacturers that make really great materials like better and better than than one of those before. But then because this, this communication channel is not there already there, they're losing this value they're basically competing with with Virgin materials in this whole supply chain. Whereas if you have this proof that comes with it, obviously, the material becomes way more valuable. So there's there's interest from both sides, and it's just finding the right people to start with.
Barry O'Kane 15:27
And then I also noticed an interesting thing that I think was mentioned in the white paper that's available on your site that kind of introduces the technology. There was mention of kind of, I guess, a little bit of incentive or peer pressure almost, for people in the supply chain, to also get involved in sort of, you know, make sure that they are, what's the right description, but you know, to get to to make sure that they're correctly represented in the chain. Is that Is that a fair sort of assessment?
Jordi de Vos 15:55
Yeah, we see that happening already with some parties that sit in the middle of the value chain, where they feel pressure both sides. And I mean, there's nothing really to lose for them if they join. But again, I think that's that's mostly something that will come in later when we are a bit further along. Because then people will start asking like, why are you not doing this? Like, what are you hiding? What are you afraid for? That's of course the situation that we want to create.
Barry O'Kane 16:20
Okay, so you mentioned so we talked about the trust. And you mentioned that kind of proof. Can you kind of give an, I guess, a summary or an introduction into how the product that you have provides that trust or proof part?
Jordi de Vos 16:38
Yeah. So that it starts at the material manufacturer, or someone that wants to make first claim about something. So at that stage, they have a certain product and they have certain documentation around it, maybe all the documents for instance, they can enter that into our system, based on that they are creating what is called a digital twin. So it's a digital representation, of what they have in the physical world, and it's equal in mass. So if you have a, say a bag of resin of 10,000 kilograms, then you also get a digital bag of resin that's 10,000 kilograms. Now the blockchain part really kicks in right here. Because in the past, if I had like a PDF document that stated something, I could send it to you, but I could send it to someone else as well. And hopefully, you guys won't talk to each other, so you won't find out. And with this blockchain technology, you're unable to do that you're unable to double spend whatever it is that you have, just like you cannot make bitcoins out of thin air. So once that is done, we can even have a third party validator looking at that, that process of making this digital twin, so you have maybe an external party signing off on it. And once that is created, you can basically ship this digital version alongside your physical item. And you can go step by step into the supply chain and at every stage you can alter it you can basically say, Well, I received this material but now I combine it with another material made a part Like any step that you do in the physical world, you can also do in a digital space. And then of course, you keep doing this until you reach the brand at the end. There is one, one very important footnote here. And that is the link between the digital world and the physical world. And basically means that if you, for instance, do this by putting a QR code on a bag, of course you have this link, but it's also very easy to copy because if I even just make a photo of a QR code, then I already have a copy. So it's, it becomes easy to swap the material. So in the end, it's still like you cannot make more claims than what you can do in total. So on a mass balance scale, it's it's completely right. But you still cannot really claim something about the product that is in front of you. So someone might have swapped the bag for instance, in middle of supply chain and he would never find out. This in some cases is perfectly fine. I mean, we do this every day when we travel with am well not right now with Corona of course, but we used to travel by plane and you could buy CO2 credits and reduce your your carbon footprint that you were creating by traveling by air. But of course, that never changed anything about the plane itself, right, it's just someone planting a tree somewhere to compensate. So this is the same concept of a mass balance that, you know, on looking at a global scale it you know, it's good what you're doing, but it's not very specific to the product in front of you. So the stronger you make this link between the physical and the digital, the more, the more, the better your claim actually becomes, you can go all the way up to the point where you introduce artificial DNA, for instance, into the material. And then you can make a claim really about this the thing that is in front of you. And again, this really depends on what kind of supply chain you're looking at whether that makes sense or not.
Barry O'Kane 19:47
So then however that link is made, you have then the physical product or thing moving around the supply chain, and the digital twin following it so you have a digital record of everything that's happened to that. To all those things by the time it gets into my laptop or whatever, so the goal, the vision being that I can then go, here's my laptop, tell me the full journey of everything that's ended up in it. Is that right?
Jordi de Vos 20:14
yeah, that's one side. But then the other side like to make it really easy that that is not even the thing that we want to achieve. So looking for instance, again, at recycling so imagine that you throw your laptop away. Basically, what want to make sure is that added recycler, they know exactly what to do with it. So do I throw it in bin A or bin B? What process shouldn't go into and basically that and this is something that that has grown into society. I think over all the years that that we've been innovating is like people always really like to gather all the information. And then based on that information, make a decision. That's how generally people work. And what we are saying is that a computer is way better in doing that than you are. Why shouldn't be someone else's computer. So basically that whole analysis and calculation we can do at the place or at the computer of whoever owns the information. So we're not sharing that information, we're just sharing the results that comes out of that analysis. And that analysis is exactly what is based on, you know, that specific recycler, for instance, with specific capabilities.
Emily Swaddle 21:26
Right, so then the point of trust comes between the humans and the computer rather than between the humans involved is that, Am I understanding that correctly?
Jordi de Vos 21:35
So basically, the one point of trust is whoever entered the information the first time. So that is the most critical part.
But right now, I mean, if we compare it to what we have today, it means that every single step you have the same problem.
Emily Swaddle 21:49
yeah. So you mentioned that the as you go through the supply chain with your bag of whatever, you can do the same thing that you do to it digitally that you do in the actual real world. Can the relate or how does that relate to kind of the labour that goes into it, because obviously, in the example that you had of the textile industry, and the transparency around how labour is used, and what kind of labour is used as a big part of that scandal and a big part of the ethics that are important in that industry, Is that something that also is tracked through this process.
Jordi de Vos 22:30
So again, we we are making the information highway, but we don't decide what information needs to go on there. But it is very easy. And in fact, we're already doing that is to add other certification at a later stage. So you can imagine that you're you're getting these tokens in the digital twin and maybe it's recycled cotton, for instance. And now you're at the facility where you want to make a claim about the labour standards. And there's this other certificate that you have for this other audit. That has happened that basically validates that you're not using child labour, for instance. And that can be attached into that new token that you're making based out of what you've already gotten in. And so what happens is you you basically consume the recycled cotton token, and you're creating a new one based out of it. And you can attach all kinds of new information to it at that stage as well. So just like what happens in the physical world,
Emily Swaddle 23:24
So building the journey of the physical object, also in the digital space?
Jordi de Vos 23:31
Yeah. And there's really no limit on what kind of information you can attach. So of course, we can talk about the labour, we can talk about CO2 emissions, maybe but maybe, like, you just want to want to attach a nice video that gives you a tour about your facility and show how technical advanced that's also perfectly fine. Like we don't we don't make the rules whatever you think as a as a manufacturing and supply chain, it's important for people to know further than supply chain, you should attach.
Barry O'Kane 24:01
So that makes sense. And I really like the analogy. You've said a couple times now of creating the information highway, and then allowing each participant to be able to say this is the information I want to attach and share at whatever point in the, in the supply chain journey that they are in. So let's just quickly talk a little bit about the privacy aspect. And so if I'm part of the supply chain, and I'm dealing with the plastic, as you said, I'm combining it with some other things I'm doing some of the things I'm proving that our business processes are ethical, and I'm providing some extra information to my step in the chain. How do I then control where and how that's shared?
Jordi de Vos 24:45
So when you're entering the information, there's an option in our system. So this technology that we use is basically called zero knowledge proofs. There are lots of YouTube videos that can explain that way better than I can. But the idea is that at that stage, you can also basically commit to share certain data under certain conditions. And that's where you basically enter this, and you can change it at a later stage. But the nice thing is that if, for instance, we talk about a bill of materials, and you have a third party auditor, for instance, signing this data for you that you know, that someone else. So a good example will be that if you're a material manufacturer, and you have your build materials, but then KPMG, for instance, comes in and says, well, the data that you entered into the Circularise platform, that is correct, right, you're not lying about the content here, I agree with it. So then, on the other side, the receiving end, they can ask a very specific question. For instance, does this television contain mercury? And they will get an answer. And basically the depth of the answer is in your control. So you can say I just want to say yes or no or I want to give an exact number like anything you can do in between that range. But the person receiving it will get this answer. And they will see that, like the original data was validated by KPMG. So you put the trust in the auditor, but you don't need to see the exact data.
Barry O'Kane 26:12
And then tying that back to the example you're giving or a recycler, and they don't need to know, everybody in the supply chain and who the factory was, and everything we just need to know. What's this material? Does it contain x, y, hazardous material or things that will affect my decision as to what I do with this product? So how does that work? So and the other thing that was really interesting that you emphasised that and I think it's been really clearly is that this hinges very often on the on the link between that digital information, and the fact that this is actually the product that digital twin is is for. So can you talk a little bit about So you mentioned QR codes and sort of like assume other things, chips, the things that could be attached to it, but I'd be interested in, sort of, if you are be able to describe some of the different ways that that would work, and which and where people might choose, you know what identifier to use?
Jordi de Vos 27:11
Yeah, so the identifier is basically nothing more than, like a serial number that so you can compare it. And it's unique for like, anything in the whole wide world, if you give it that number, there will not be a second part anywhere else with that same number. But how you attach it, it really it's, it's up to the company. So a good example would be the QR code, it's really easy to implement. It can also be a barcode, you can even link it to an existing code that's already on packaging, for instance. But then, for instance, we talk about adding a tracer to the material we know for instance, plastics, it's certainly possible to do that. But if you do that you're changing the chemical composition of the material, which means that it needs to be recertified, at least for an application, right? So you don't want to introduce different materials into a product that easily. So there it's just a maybe even more economic decision where you say, Well, right now, that's just not interesting to do. But maybe at later stage it will be. Whereas in textiles, we see that the usage of tracers is already fairly common. Just because the market is demanding such a strong claim at the end. But yeah, I mean, the sky's the limit. We can use NFC chips. There are even some companies now that have an NFC chips that act like a, you know, the Google Authenticator program that you can get for your phone where you basically have a random random code generated, they have NFC chips with that built in. So the moment you scan it, the the code actually changes. So you will never be able to copy it. Like that. There are lots and lots of really smart solutions out there to tackle this problem. Our approach is basically saying, Well, we know these solutions exists, and we have this really easy way of integrating them. But we're not going to tell you which one you should pick.
Barry O'Kane 28:56
Yeah. Awesome. Cool. So that I that that's, I think that's really cool. So then you're providing, I guess, the platform as you described it to enable all of these things. So what happens? How does a company, for example, go about implementing or joining that platform, making those decisions about? What data do they put on? And how do they track their thing? You know, is it a case of, they're already doing that? And they're pulling in Circularise to say, Circularise going to be the information highway, like you described? Or are you more involved in the consulting and the how to make all that work as well?
Jordi de Vos 29:34
Yeah, that really, really depends. Of course, we know that that like, especially the bigger companies, they have their own internal ERP systems already containing a lot data. So we are building these these links, basically, that you don't need to do anything. It's already in your system. But having said that, it's really like, it really depends on how far these companies are. So you can also imagine that, looking at where production happens, technology might not be as advanced, as we might expect. So we also have to keep that in mind. Usually this is a journey that we start with a customer. And then we try to figure out what is the easiest way to start now, but also what is the optimum way that we want to go to in the future. Together, we built out this track how you can get there. Another thing that I think is really important to highlight is that we are just a startup, right? We're a small company from the Netherlands. And we know that we will not become the Google of materials, like that's the risk, right? If you if we get every company in the world to work with us then. And, of course, we would be really happy as founders, but it's probably not the best solution to make the world more circular. Because there's a giant lockin, right? It's a it's a risk. So what we're actually doing is that the core of our technology, we're making open source, we're actually now in the process of creating a foundation that should manage that. And anyone can also just build their own solution on top of it. So maybe there's a market that we are not active in. Or maybe there's a specific use case that you just want to handle yourself. That's all perfectly fine. We just want to make sure that everyone speaks the same language, so to say. So if you are, you can compare it with email. So if you're using Gmail, and I'm using Yahoo, doesn't matter, like we can still send emails to each other, we can perfectly read them, and that's basically the future that we envision for our technology as well.
Barry O'Kane 31:25
Yeah, that's really cool. You preempted my next question about that, actually. Because Because that and that's something that I see more and more like as people who are genuinely businesses are genuinely interested in, in the goal, making things more circular, having an impact, reducing waste, and so on, and all the big, broad and high reaching goals with that. The things like open data standards, and open source and shared languages to share knowledge is the key to that success. So is that something you're finding as easy as it is a natural part of the business or is it a Is it a challenging thing when you're also at the startup mode when you're trying to create the business and you have all these things going on? And then as you say, then, is it a separate job to do the open source foundation? Or is it something that you feel is fitting quite seamlessly into what you're doing anyway?
Jordi de Vos 32:15
It's definitely something that we always set out to do. I think the biggest challenge as a startup like, especially when you're just starting is the funding part. So a lot of investors, they might feel hesitant if you have a startup that is pitching that they're basically giving all the unique technology away. But that depends, right, we see that this world is changing now where people are not accepting the status quo as it happens right now with with Google, Facebook, that there's basically a giant lockin, people are getting more more receptive to the idea of going back to the old style of internet where everything was open, everything was shared. So it's a it's definitely has a steep learning curve, but it's a we wouldn't want to do it any other way.
Barry O'Kane 33:00
Do you find particularly as over the first few years of the startup that you're having to kind of explain the problem, as well as sell your solution, if you like?
Jordi de Vos 33:11
Oh, yeah, absolutely. When we, when we started in 2016, we spent a lot of time just explaining the idea of a circular economy. Then we got to the stage where people sort of understood that part. But then we had to explain our technology and especially the blockchain part and "wait, I thought that Bitcoin was used to buy drugs". But then we got to that state and I think now we're at the stage where people understand that Circular Economy is a thing they understand that blockchain is there that is just the technology. So now we're finally getting into the stage where we're moving away from the from the lecturer role.
Emily Swaddle 33:48
Yeah, and I mean, what we are definitely society moving towards more understanding of this but he's still coming up against resistance.
Jordi de Vos 33:59
I would not call it resistance is more timing. I would say where a lot of people now understand it, but it might not be the first thing on their agenda, which is understandable, especially given the current situation is just,
Emily Swaddle 34:13
Jordi de Vos 34:14
of course, from our perspective here, you have to start as soon as possible. But change, change in general takes time. So that's fine.
Emily Swaddle 34:23
If I might ask a more personal question, what do you find most motivating and inspiring in terms of working in this, working towards the Circular Economy transition? And is this something that, kind of, everyday you think 'this is it'. You know, I'm really glad that I get to work on this solution, because I think that, you know, it holds all this importance for me. Where does that lie for you?
Jordi de Vos 34:49
Yeah, I think when I was growing up, I always found this is important already. But I also studied business and I always had this feeling, like yeah, sustainability is really important. But it always comes at a cost. Which is like, if you look at it from a purely financial perspective, it's it's not easy to sell to a company. And I think with with the concept of a circular economy, I finally got to the stage where I thought, this really makes sense, not just because we should, but also because it actually makes your business better. Like it actually makes financial sense to do this. That's, I think, where I got most excited. And now I see that that companies are getting to this point where they also see this. Of course, the societal importance was always there. But now, it's basically you can also explain it in the books why this is definitely a way forward. And I think that that's what makes it most exciting for me, I can, I can very confidently talk to pretty much any business and then show them that this makes financial sense to actually start moving towards a circular economy. I think that's what also gives me the energy and for me, Circularise is one of the tools that you definitely need to get there, right. So you there's something technological innovation that needs to be done not just changing your business model. I'm really happy to be part of that solution.
Emily Swaddle 36:10
Yeah, that's a great place to be when you feel like your solution is making sense in on all kinds of different levels.
Barry O'Kane 36:18
So, what is next? What's the future? I know you've had several successes and already I can, I know you've been involved, some awesome accelerators and programs and things are ready for what's next, what's the what's the future? What do you see as the next sort of step in the business?
Jordi de Vos 36:40
So we just recently won another grant from the European Commission the EIC SME Booster. So with that, we are going to scale our business and I think the most prominent step that we're taking that right now we have this system already running, but it relies on people logging into a web interface and interacting with the system there. And really the next step would be to automate all that make sure that there are API's available for companies that they can just build this integration themselves. And I think that's the that's the low hanging fruit for the next year to make sure that that is there for them.
Barry O'Kane 37:17
Awesome. Yeah. So is there anything we haven't asked that you would like to share?
Jordi de Vos 37:22
Well, I think the main thing that I really want to share with you and all the other listeners is that if you think that this is something that you can help with, or that you want to implement, and please, please reach out, get in touch because this whole concept of being open and creating this foundation is that we're not the only ones in there. So please, if you have any ideas, or maybe you work on a complimentary technology, please reach out. That's really important.
Barry O'Kane 37:48
Awesome, thank you. And where if listeners want to do that reach out to and contact you or just find out more about Circularise and about the project? Where can they go?
Jordi de Vos 37:57
I think our website would be the easiest Circularise dot com on the English spelling, please.
Otherwise LinkedIn is where we share most of our news.
Barry O'Kane 38:07
Awesome. Okay. And we'll share as usual we'll share the links to Circularise and also to the LinkedIn, and Twitter and so on for Circularise on HappyPorchRadio.com on the Episode Notes, thank you Jordi, I really appreciate your time today was a really fascinating discussion on there's a lot more depth we could get into I'm sure. But hopefully that was a really good introduction to the whole to Circularise and to the whole, I guess, the platform that you're building.
Jordi de Vos 38:30
Thanks for having me.
Emily Swaddle 38:32
Thank you, Jordi.
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