R&D and Innovations Startup

BASF Launch Accelerator Program for Start-Ups

The Greentown Labs Circularity Challenge is a six-month accelerator program for start-ups developed in partnership with BASF, one of the world’s leading chemical companies.

The program intends to advance innovative ideas to disrupt the plastics, energy storage and recycling value chains to enable a circular economy.

Believing that disruptive solutions for circular economy must be jointly addressed along the value chain, this program is supported by Stanley Black & Decker, a leading global diversified industrial and member of BASF’s value chain that shares the vision for a more sustainable future.

Why a Circularity Challenge?

Circular economy is much more than waste management. The aim is to close cycles and use products and resources in the best way possible across the entire value chain.

The circular economy model has been gaining ground in politics, industry and society over the last years. Behind this idea is a shift away from the linear model of “take-make-dispose” to a system of closed loops powered by renewable energy.

The chemical industry and its innovations can lead the way in this change. BASF is already applying circular economy in a number of ways.

Circular economy thinking, however, cannot be restricted to a company’s own operations. We are looking for start-ups, with a proof of concept solution, that creatively enable circularity for plastics or battery materials or provide digital tools for circularity in general.

How will you be rewarded?

  • Selected Circularity Challenge awardee(s) are eligible for the following awards and benefits:
  • Acceptance into Greentown Launch, a 6-month accelerator program for start-ups at Greentown Labs
  • Partnership and/or potential investment from BASF by the end of the program
  • Access to select BASF testing capabilities, global technical facilities and expertise
  • Exclusive access to the Greentown Labs and BASF networks
  • $25,000 in non-dilutive grant funding
  • Desk space at the Greentown Labs Global Center for Cleantech Innovation
  • Potential access to BASF-sponsored bench in Greentown’s wet lab
  • Potential for joint ISO-standardized eco-efficiency analysis with BASF
  • Opportunity to connect with multiple stakeholders across industries, including BASF customer and special program affiliate Stanley Black & Decker.

Technologies of Interests


To push the limits of recycling, the program seeks innovative solutions to close loops in the plastics value chain, such as:

  • Advanced recycling technologies
    • for currently non-recyclable polymeric materials (including, but not limited to PETG, PVC, EPS)
    • for composite materials that cannot be separated and recycled today (e.g. Polyethylene/Aluminum laminates, or others)
    • mitigating contamination and degradation to ensure high quality recyclates (odor control, color removal, new additives such as compatibilizers or chain extenders to increase the performance of recycled plastics, ideally into the performance range of virgin materials)
    • boosted by tracer technologies for sorting efficiency
  • Novel designs
    • of composites that can be readily separated (debonding on demand)
    • replacing complex composites with single material solutions for better recyclability, while maintaining performance (e.g. replacement of composite barrier layers, replacement of black light protection layers in milk bottles)
    • leveraging bio-degradable building blocks or additives
  • Energy-efficient processes for depolymerization (including enzymes), pyrolysis or gasification to recover building blocks


To increase the circularity of batteries and minimize wasted battery capacity and raw materials we are looking for technologies that:

  • Improve the collection of batteries/cells after initial use through innovative and new business models
  • Improve how batteries/cells are analyzed, to understand charge state and determine whether they should be reused, reconditioned, or recycled
  • Revive a dead cell or battery without resorting to disassembly for recycling
  • Enable direct recycling of battery materials (without leaching, pyrometallurgy etc.)
  • Optimize recycling of valuable metals such as cobalt, nickel, lithium, etc.
  • Create new batteries that can be reused, repurposed or recycled more often and more cost effectively

Digital Tools

To implement and manage new circularity business models and track progress in sustainability we are looking for:

  • Digital platforms that enable new business models in circular economy
  • Tools that help simulate and predict recyclability and guide designs
  • Technologies that support tracking and reporting of value streams
  • Approaches to make battery components or plastic parts smarter by incorporating IoT technologies for lifecycle management (e.g. to enable battery components or plastic parts to report status and reusability or recycling options)
  • Methods that can detect possible contamination and detrimental ingredients in materials such as plastics or battery components, that are fed back into the loop

Application Tips

  • Define your solution and the problem it addresses as clearly as possible
  • Disclose the status of any intellectual property (IP) relevant to your submission. Do not submit confidential information in the application process. Should you be selected as an awardee, your IP will be fully protected throughout the process
  • If your application progresses through the selection process, you must be available for Skype interviews and in-person interviews after the close of the Round 1 application deadline


Submit your completed application by September 8, 2019, 11:59 p.m. EDT

All events will be held at Greentown Labs in Somerville, MA

  • Program Kickoff & Judging Event: September 30, 2019
  • Workshop 1: October 22-23, 2019
  • Workshop 2: November 12-13, 2019
  • Workshop 3: December 4-5, 2019
  • Final Showcase: January 30, 2020
    All dates subject to change


Plastics in the Circular Economy

15 June 2020 – Chemical Recycling Commitments and Incentives, Deep Sea Plastic, Greece Plastic Ban, NY Composting

12 June 2020 – Michigan Waste, Definitions, Greenpeace Malaysia, Tax and Voluntary Schemes, Shell Sustainable and Circular Plastics News

7 June 2020 – Industry 4.0, PEF, Perstorp, Timber and Chemical Recycling

5 June 2020 – Woodly, Plastic-Free Masks, Plastic Tax, UK & US Survey, Biodegradable War, Spain

3 June 2020 – Chemical Recycling Europe, Sustainability on Hold, Lyondellbasell, Ikea, Covestro

2 June 2020 – EU and Compostable Plastics, Biodegradable Additives, RWDC, Black Plastic, Oxo

1 June 2020 – Nestle, Denmark, Weather, Mitsui, Plastic Free July, Compost Shortage

31 May 2020 – Iowa, Zalando, Sabic, South Africa, Dow and Mondelez

29 May 2020 – China Scandal, Mitsubishi, Tyres, Flexible Packaging, Sargassum, Canada Lignin

27 May 2020 – SK Chemical, Borealis, Omya, Stora Enso, UPM, Dow and Good Natured


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