Our year in review, by Ellen MacArthur

January 05, 2015

As 2014 draws to a close, it’s a good time to reflect upon the events and achievements of the year that has passed. The Foundation continues to grow and to strengthen its collaborations, knowledge and initiatives in the fields of business and policy, insight and analysis, education and training. Here are a few of my personal highlights.


This autumn we hosted the first Disruptive Innovation Festival (DIF). The DIF was a four-week long online event that offered the chance for people to explore the latest and brightest ideas on the changing global economy. The Festival’s line-up was headlined by some of the world’s leading innovators including Sir Ken Robinson, Rachel Botsman and Janine Benyus. In total, there were over 225 hours of programmed content and more than 9,000 people registered to take part. It was a great challenge for the team, but we absolutely loved it!

The past autumn was also an exciting time as both our CEO, Andrew Morlet and I had the opportunity to introduce the circular economy concept at a number of major events in the United States. It was my privilege to provide a keynote speech at the BSR conference in New York, and Andrew also had the opportunity to speak in Washington D.C. at the US Chamber of Commerce’s Corporate Citizenship conference. The circular economy is now gaining recognition on the other side of the Atlantic, and we look forward to progressing this further.

We have continued to work closely with some of the world’s leading businesses. Our Global Partners, Philips, Unilever, Cisco, Renault and Kingfisher are demonstrating circular innovation at scale across a number of key sectors. The CE100 programme’s membership now stands at 95 and we held our second annual summit in London on June 25. We also ran Acceleration Workshops in Munich and Barcelona, where 10 charters were developed and will be taken forward by industry groups.

Our education programmes also continue to grow, the Schmidt-MacArthur Fellowship has now established itself as a respected international programme for postgraduate students and academic tutors on the circular economy. In 2014, it welcomed MIT, Tongji University, Royal College of Art and Tecnológico de Monterrey bringing the number of universities now involved up to 14.

We also added two new institutions to our Pioneer Universities programme. TU Delft, which specialises in circular product design, and University College London (UCL), where they are developing an institution-wide network of academics across different disciplines that promotes cross-disciplinary approaches to research in the area of the circular economy.

Looking ahead, 2015 is already looking very busy and full of fascinating projects… We will notably be working on the creation of a policy toolkit for circular economy, as well as pressing on with Project MainStream in partnership with the World Economic Forum and McKinsey & Company. On the training front, we have started developing a circular economy module destined to build capacity within organisations… and of course, back by popular demand, the second edition of the DIF is definitely already in our diary!

In the meantime, both I, and the whole team here at the Foundation, wish you a very happy new year!

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