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Looking back on StartUpCycle: our Upcycling Hackathon

What do you get if you combine a circus tent, six passionate teams, nine amazing mentors, a load of old rubbish, and one big ambition?

StartUpCycle: a unique weekend hackathon event from Sync the City, Norwich BID, and University of East Anglia, where teams collaborated to create an upcycling start-up. This eco-hackathon was organised as part of Upcycle Your Waste - our project to establish a circular economy in Norwich

Group StartUpCycle

Over 48 hours, our teams were given a crash-course in the circular economy, benefited from expert mentorship from industry experts, and were set a mission: to create an upcycling start-up from concept to pitch. The StartUpCycle teams rose to the challenge, and generated brilliant initiatives and products to help reduce landfill and save the planet.

The six teams brainstormed, created, and developed their businesses over the 48 hours, ready to pitch to the judges on Sunday evening. With two prizes up for grabs – the Judges’ Prize for £3000 and the People’s Choice for £1000, energy was high, and faces were determined!

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The teams

Scoop – Don’t skip it. Scoop it!
An app designed to enable business to business upcycling, using a sophisticated algorithm that combines convenience and cost.

Waystr – Products you want, from stuff you don’t, in the city you love.
A hyperlocal marketplace for buying and selling upcycled products, designed to bring businesses and customers together.

Meco – Good for you and the planet.
Upcycling cardboard waste into convenient work from home laptop stands, designed to improve posture and reduce landfill.

Zing – Making peel more appealing.
Inspired by Changpi, a traditional dried mandarin peel, Zing takes discarded orange peel and transforms it into a tasty snack, with a natural pep.

Palletable Floor – Forever flooring, UpCycle to Order.
Sustainable and aesthetic floor tiles made from discarded pallets, for the eco-conscious home.

Breathe Trainers – Protecting your soul.
Breathable trainers made from discarded masks and PPE. A last-minute entrant, Breathe was a team made up from the UEA Ambassadors working the event!

On Sunday evening, the teams pitched their ideas to our panel of judges, sharing their business plan, branding, and potential for growth. You can watch all the team pitches on our StartUpCycle livestream below, and see the judges announce the winners too.

Watch the pitches & prizes

The overall Judges’ winner of £3,000 was Scoop.

The People’s Choice winner of £1000 was Zing.

Martin StartUpCycle

We were thrilled by the passion and energy the teams brought to the challenge, and their potential solutions for reducing rubbish in Norwich, and further afield! The ingenuity, determination, and out-of-the-box thinking was inspiring, encouraging, and helped us to see a future where upcycling was the norm rather than the exception. We’re looking forward to seeing how all of the upcycling start-ups develop, and exploring the potential for future initiatives with our Upcycle Your Waste EU partners.

For a full account of the StartUpCycle weekend, head over to the Sync the City blog.

Watch our StartUpCycle Livestream of the teams' pitches and winner announcements here.

Find out more about Upcycle Your Waste.

Get in touch.


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StartUpCycle was developed by Sync the City in partnership  with Norwich BID and University of East Anglia, as part of Upcycle Your Waste which is funded by the Interreg 2 Seas programme and co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund. StartUpCycle was also sponsored by Norwich Good Economy Commission, FX Home, Langham Recruitment, and Leathes Prior.