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Circular economy: “With Leonardo DiCaprio, we are in good company with our investments in sustainability”.

Sneakers and teddy bears made from former pet bottles, upcycling fashion, “zero waste” shops or steel that is made 100 percent from scrap: the ideas for the circular economy are as countless as they are important. But in addition to good ideas, you also need people who believe in them and offer the opportunity to implement them. Guenther Dobrauz-Saldapenna invests as co-founder and partner of the Swiss investment house exelixis capital AG in startups that deal with new business models for real longevity and sustainability. In doing so, he is sending a valuable signal, because a better world is a win-win for everyone.

Text: Sherin Kneifl

Why are you as a venture capital investor devoting yourself to the topic of circular economy?


It is a path that brings us closer to nature again. There is no rubbish there. Every leaf that falls from the tree is not waste, but becomes part of a cycle again. The same applies to the body of every living being that dies. Why shouldn’t we be able to do the same with any shirt or bag? Instead of burning them or throwing them away, we could either let them return to earth or use them to make the next product. These initial considerations about the circular economy interested me. I wanted to know more about regenerative systems in which resource use and waste production, emissions and energy waste are minimized by slowing down, reducing and closing energy and material cycles.

Photo: CV Summit Leadership Circles

What motivated you to join these?


I have been interested in innovation in a business context for a good 20 years. Back then, I got involved in the exciting venture capital field and probably never left again. The current dynamics, which result in particular from the combination of different technologies, will change a lot. Just think of blockchain combined with artificial intelligence, or 3D printers with the “Internet of Things”. I got involved in the circular economy because it shows solutions for the future and takes a visionary approach to sustainability.

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Which startups are you involved in through your investment house exelixis capital AG?


At exelixis capital AG we primarily invest in exponential technologies, i.e. new developments that cause explosive growth. These include under including virtual reality, drones, artificial intelligence and blockchain, but also sensors or networks. Practical Every industry will be affected by the consequences of rapid development of innovations, which in turn will affect companies opens up great opportunities in terms of cost and time savings. As investors, we pay close attention to this Business model or how it can be implemented. With our support we want that Driving circular ideas in startups.


Do you already have an example where this works?


We are particularly proud of the Bern-based OceanSafe AG, which is trying to sell the materials via B2B – and unfortunately to revolutionize the industry and was certified with cradle-2-cradle Gold by an international testing company.


You also joined the watch brand ID Genève. A company that is rethinking the watch product.


We are among the first investors there and are therefore in good company. US actor Leonardo DiCaprio, now one of the most famous investors in the sustainability sector, is also on board because we believe in it believe that a revolution is possible here.

You can order the book here


How do you think the circular economy will develop?


We have barely begun to exploit the potential. In an ideal world, everything we use is recyclable – from t-shirts to pens, from cars to houses. We have just published our new book on circular economy and printed it in a “cradle-2-cradle” manner.

 

The cover contains plant seeds, so theoretically they could be thrown into the garden can be used to start a new cycle; or you can pass it on to friends and initiate intellectual progress. My goal is to inspire people to shop more consciously and invest with a more holistic approach. Circular economy is one of the six key topics on which we advise.

 

The “Cradle-to-Cradle” concept describes the design and manufacture of products that are at the end of their life Lifespan actually recycled or returned to earth.

 

Essentially it’s about dismantling every product and designing it so that it is recyclable. This task may seem intimidating at first, but it is also fun, especially when we consider the numerous new exponential technologies and their possibilities.

 

What things are you thinking about most?


Everyone! Initially, the simple as well as the very complex things will probably need to be tackled. In the long term, I hope we will rethink every product from the ground up. You could start with food, as it is often overly packaged and unnecessarily processed. We should then turn to everyday items such as razors, toothbrushes, pens and clothing, which often come from Asia and are chemically treated. But the same applies to cars, houses, trains and more.

Is the general population sufficiently informed or already sensitized to advance sustainability for the next generation?


In Switzerland there are a relatively large number of people who deal with this, but we are still a long way from a satisfactory standard. That’s why it’s crucial to talk about it and, above all, to show what’s possible through investments. In the future, business must only function in such a way that one can generate profit while at the same time considering the sustainability of the planet.

 

What does your personal commitment look like?


My son reminds me almost every day that I don’t really live in a circular way yet and he is of course right. I love vinyl records and own thousands of them. I also collect photographs of musicians and drive a car. But I’m constantly getting better and trying to eliminate at least one more old habit from my life every day. Today, for example, it was the razor, because I now have a beard and my hairdresser here in Seefeld will do the rest with his wonderful razor, which is over 80 years old.

 

How Do you want a sustainable future for your son to live in?


A future responsibly built on exponential technologies, circular and decentralized. Then we will ultimately realize longevity and we will all never die. That would be nice, right?

November 2023

About the person:


Dr. Guenther Dobrauz-Saldapenna, MBA, venture capital investor, lawyer, supporter of the circular economy, enthusiast for exponential technologies and author.

Günther has a master’s degree and He holds a doctorate in law from Johannes Kepler University (Austria), an MBA from the University of Strathclyde (Scotland) and has completed executive education programs at Harvard Business School, Harvard Law School, IMD and Singularity University.

He has been passionately investing in the future for many years and firmly believes that the future must be circular and decentralized to be truly long-lasting!

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