Hosting innovation challenges has become a vital approach for accelerating new solutions that combat complex social issues, by supporting the growth of social ventures. The Informal Plastic Collection Innovation Challenge (IPCIC), initiated by the Ocean Plastic Prevention Accelerator (OPPA) and the Indonesia National Plastic Action Partnership (NPAP Indonesia)supports a cohort of twelve innovators aiming to expand their operations in different ways in Indonesia . Some of the cohort members are pivoting and testing new product solutions, while others aim to expand established products and business models. In spite of having different expansion strategies, all participants share a common goal - to scale their impact to tackle the challenge of informal plastic collection by improving the capacity and well-being of informal workers.
NEPRA, a renowned India-based waste management venture, is a perfect example of an innovator planning to grow through expansion of existing operations. Specializing in waste collection, segregation, processing, and recycling, NEPRA’s vision is to build better waste management systems and facilitate circular economy transformation. As a late-stage company, NEPRA has received series-C funding and seeks rapid expansion. NEPRA joined IPCIC program to learn and share knowledge with waste management companies globally. It views the program as an opportunity to collaborate with other participants, creating synergies that can help solve the waste challenge.
For NEPRA, engaging and bringing all stakeholders of the waste management sector on one platform is at the core of its business model. NEPRA partners with local governments to establish waste segregation facilities, collaborates with waste pickers for collection, and works with local schools for recycling efforts. By partnering with different stakeholders, NEPRA ensures removing obstacles and challenges, making the industry transparent, efficient and non-exploitative, in turn driving positive socio-economic and environmental change.
The IPCIC program is uniquely positioned to facilitate and initiate partnerships between innovators such as NEPRA with stakeholders and ventures in the Indonesian informal plastic waste collection context. For example, IPCIC incorporates activities like Impact Rotation sessions, mentorship activities , venture support workshops and community sourced workshops.
The Impact Rotation sessions, a crucial activity during the IPCIC Kick-off Summit, were designed to facilitate aspiring partnerships. Impact rotations in SecondMuse programming typically aim to facilitate connections between innovators and mentors. At IPCIC, the impact rotations also facilitated connections among innovators in the cohort, creating opportunities for partnerships between these ventures.
During the second Impact Rotation session, Sonali, a representative from NEPRA met with six innovators in the cohort and engaged in fruitful conversations, learning, and exchanges in a virtual setting .
The innovators shared knowledge and expertise about emerging or mature waste management technologies. In a conversation between NEPRA and Seven Clean Seas, the two innovators exchanged their knowledge and experiences about plastic credit technologies and platforms. Meanwhile, NEPRA and Second Life Ocean discussed specific waste sorting technologies that NEPRA specializes in.
NEPRA also exchanged learnings about building partnerships with six other innovators, and referred them to potential partners. Additionally, NEPRA shared experiences about collaborating with local waste management actors
As OPPA emphasized a spirit of collaboration among IPCIC participants from day one organic interaction started to emerge. NEPRA and the other innovators developed personal relationships, and they began to explore further about each other’s skills while , laying the ground for future partnerships.
With a collaborative spirit in mind, innovators also become mentors for each other. By joining IPCIC, NEPRA brings its expertise and learnings from India and shares it with a cohort of innovators operating at different stages and coming from different parts of the world - Indonesia, Singapore, India, and others. For a late-stage venture like NEPRA, IPCIC opens exciting opportunities for NEPRA to translate its validated technology, model, and process and adapt them to the local market to help tackle waste management problems in Indonesia.
Waste management is a particular social issue that calls for collaboration between established waste management organizations, large FMCG companies, informal collection actors, and innovators. NEPRA’s experience in the IPCIC program demonstrates how , knowledge sharing and relationship building is significant towards tackling the challenges innovators face in the informal plastic collection sector .
The Informal Plastic Collection Innovation Challenge is initiated by the Ocean Plastic Prevention Accelerator and the Indonesia National Plastic Action Partnership, hosted on UpLink, supported by The Incubation Network - a regional initiative powered by SecondMuse, The Circulate Initiative (TCI), with support from Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW), and Global Affairs Canada (GAC).