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The details

If you are a business looking to work alongside experts to accelerate your capability and create extraordinary ideas – then you have come to the right place. By solving problems for your business, you will accelerate pathways to a more regenerative, low carbon future for Auckland.

We have curated a design sprint series of one-day workshops, bookended by two events.

For registered businesses - attendance is for five consecutive Fridays which covers all six circular by design methods. Then we move through prototyping, validation and a pitch event.


01. Love the problem, close the loop

02. Explore smart materials to grow our world

03. New value creation with circular business models

04. The new digital frontier

05. Prototype the solution


Co-create your future to be circular.  
Read the opening speech here>

Frequently asked questions

Q. Why is XLabs different from anything else out there?

To our knowledge, this is an Auckland and New Zealand-first circular economy lab that is open for businesses to come together to solve these systemic issues and unlock new value. This is a kick-start to move the Auckland economy to become more regenerative and to ensure its people are future-ready.

Circularity, which is running the series, usually runs five-day design sprints for individual businesses, and has previously run half-day Circular Masterclasses. XLabs is the first time this has been opened up to a wide range of businesses and challenges to embed circular thinking across Auckland’s business ecosystem. Each business coming into XLabs will work on their own challenge, alongside other businesses doing the same. They will be supported by experts across science, technology, waste and circular thinking to create a tangible, circular solution over the five-week period.

Q. What kind of impact could I have through XLabs?

With the information, tools and capability you gain at XLabs, you will have the ability to start unlocking the value identified for Auckland’s future circular economy. A potential $6.3 –$8.8 billion in additional economic activity (alongside a 2700ktCO2 reduction of carbon emissions) by 2030. An economic opportunity identified in 2018 by Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) and the Sustainable Business Network in this report: The Circular Opportunity for Auckland and how business can realise it’, with economic analysis by Sapere Research Group.

Businesses that serve in the four industry areas make up a significant proportion of the carbon and waste footprint of Auckland. Solving problems for your business will inherently accelerate the pathway to a more regenerative, low carbon future for Auckland in 2030. We have partnered with Enviro-Mark Solutions to ensure our ideas will help achieve a low carbon economy.

Q. What are the challenges each team will be solving?

As a business, you can choose your own challenge. As an expert you can support these businesses. Once you have registered your interest, we will be in touch and can help advise you on your involvement and challenge.

We encourage challenges from all four main categories: consumer goods, tourism, the built environment and transport. However challenges are not limited to solely these four areas.

Q. Why is it called XLabs?

The XLabs circular economy lab is named as such to represent the experimental, cross-functional style of collaboration at the necessary intersection of science, technology and sustainability for our rapidly changing world. In one of the first exercises, your team will identify the moment of impact that your work at XLabs will focus on, ‘X marks the spot’.

Q. What will my team and our business learn?

XLabs is designed to embed knowledge about circular systems and processes, and apply these to solve real-life businesses challenges across the tourism, consumer goods, built environment and transport sectors.
Simply put – you will learn by doing. By innovating solutions for your challenge using the six steps of Circular by Design methodology alongside a diverse range of businesses, experts and creative minds. By applying learnings from world-leading examples of innovative circular business models and expert knowledge in emerging technology, resource-use, smart materials, waste, packaging, carbon emissions and regenerative practices.

Q. Who should be in my team?

We recommend that you bring a range of personnel from across your business, where possible the key decision makers and those with valuable knowledge of your wider system. Your team will be supported by a range of experts, bringing diversity of thinking to your problem-solving.

Don't worry too much about this at this stage though, we will help advise based on your specific challenge.

If your team’s application is successful and you have been accepted into the programme then there will be a registration fee of $900+GST per person which will be invoiced on 1 December 2019.

Note, there is a minimum of three people per team and a maximum of six. If you would like to bring more you can apply to form another team.

Q. What if I have a remote team member critical to my business?

We will be deploying a range of digital tools to allow for participation from experts and team members to be connected into the programme. However for your key team members we recommend they are with you in the lab.

Q. I’m keen, but my business needs more convincing. Can you help?

Get in touch with us. We’ve prepared a document that explains XLabs in even more detail than our website. We will happily pass this on. A strong case for this work is also made by the collaborative report developed by ATEED and Sustainable Business Network that identified the growth opportunity to be worth up to $8.8 billion for Auckland. Download the report here.

Q. I'm not a business, how can I be involved?

There is space for you. We would love to hear from industry experts (bioeconomy, circular solutions, technology, waste, regeneration, for example) and university students looking to accelerate their exposure to the opportunities that exist within the circular economy. We have a number of places available on a koha basis. Register your interest, and share a few details on how you’d like to be involved.

Q. What happens to the IP/ ideas that teams come up with?

If you bring your business challenge and team to the lab, you own the IP to the solution, pending any investment opportunities that you decide on. If you work on a business challenge that is not your business, they own the IP. However, let us consider that many challenges exist because of this traditional ownership structure and require collaboration across the system to solve them. We hope that the teams form collaborative ways of working to share ownership through right to use models, joint ownership ventures, or simple MOU’s.

Q. When will it be happening? What time am I committing to?

There are 7 key dates for the XLabs circular economy lab in 2020. A launch evening on the 27th of February, followed by five full day workshops every Friday from 28th February. The circular economy lab will wrap up with a final pitch event on 31st March, where each team will have the opportunity to present their ideas to potential funders.
The key dates:
Launch evening – 27th Feb 2020
Day 1 – 28th Feb 2020
Day 2 – 6th Mar 2020
Day 3 – 13th Mar 2020
Day 4 – 20th Mar 2020
Day 5 – 27th Mar 2020
Final pitch event – 31st Mar 2020

Q. What will this cost?

Businesses are invited to register teams of between three to six people, with a registration fee of $900 (+GST)  per person. This will be invoiced upon your acceptance into the programme on the 1st December 2019.
If you would like to bring more you can apply to form another team. 
If you are an individual and would like to be involved in XLabs, please still register your interest as we will be bringing in a range of expertise and perspectives to support our participating businesses.
There are a number of places available on a koha basis.

Q. I’m a small business owner, is XLabs for me?

If you are a business looking to work alongside experts, to accelerate your capability and create extraordinary ideas together, then yes, you have come to the right place. 

Participating in XLabs will put your business at the forefront of circular thinking and position you to leverage not only your customers’ expectations around sustainability, but also the other businesses that you serve.

Q. Is XLabs only available in Auckland?

XLabs is brought to you by Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) and Circularity to start in Auckland. Circularity's plan is that this will expand further. If you would like to bring XLabs to your region, your business or your country - get in touch.