Inside Google Cloud

Scaling the Circular Economy: Google Cloud and SAP launch contest to support social entrepreneurs for sustainable development

A sustainable future demands that we create change in the present. Between agriculture, energy, pollution, and consumption, we are using more ecological resources than the Earth can regenerate. In 2018, the global demand for resources was 1.7 times more than what the Earth can support in one year1. At this rate, we would need two Earths by 2030—one of which we do not have.

At Google Cloud we believe that with the help of modern technology, business can be a positive catalyst for that change. That’s why we’re partnering with SAP to host a social entrepreneurship contest called Circular Economy 2030. We’re inviting social entrepreneurs from around the world to submit proposals by March 17, 2019 for revenue-generating ideas that use data analytics and machine learning to advance a circular economy.

A circular economy is a holistic system that designs out waste and pollution, keeps products in use, and regenerates natural resources2. It seeks to work within our planetary boundaries to increase social well-being and economic output, while also fostering a healthy environment. A circular economy has many faces. It is a bio-based material for single-use food containers; it is an e-recycling model for electric vehicles; it is even a rooftop hydroponic farm.

It’s the kind of economy that could help generate $4.5 trillion of new economic output by 20303, which is particularly timely given the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda. This agenda consists of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that include ending poverty, establishing gender equality, and taking climate action. Specifically, our Circular Economy 2030 contest is focused on SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production.

At Google, we strive to build sustainability into everything that we do—from our green data centers that match 100% of the energy used with renewable sources and repurposed servers, to our responsible supply chain program. We also published a whitepaper today that provides an initial exploration of the intersection of two emerging megatrends: artificial intelligence and the circular economy. Built on insights from over 40 interviews with experts, it presents first steps towards understanding how artificial intelligence could be applied to create a regenerative, circular economy at scale. Likewise, SAP integrates sustainability into their core business by embedding it throughout their organization. Like us, SAP believes that investing in environmentally responsible management means investing in a collaborative future.

SAP is proud to partner with Google Cloud to further our commitment to sustainability and the SDGs while we strive for a Circular Economy. At SAP, we embrace the challenge of environmental responsibility and believe it is our duty to put our technology to use to help the world run better and improve people’s lives. Teaming up with Google Cloud and environmental entrepreneurs, the sky is the limit.Alicia Tillman
CMO of SAP

With Circular Economy 2030, we’re looking for original ideas that can impact any aspect of the global economy, from eco-friendly packaging solutions to sustainable agriculture. Each proposal must include a viable business model, a vision for advancing SDG 12, and a plan to use both Google Cloud and SAP solutions to achieve that original idea at scale. We’re also working with experts in the circular economy and sustainable development, including UN Environment, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data. Together, we’ll select a total of five finalists to participate in an in-person hackathon for the chance to win over $200,000 of in-kind benefits, plus participation in Google Cloud for Startups’ Bootcamp. The remaining four finalists will each receive $45,000 in in-kind benefits, plus one-on-one mentorship.

To the entrepreneurs out there, this is your opportunity to spark a sustainable revolution with cloud computing. The best ideas go round and round.

Learn more about Circular Economy 2030 and how to apply at cloud.google.com/circular-economy-2030. The contest window is open from January 22, 2019 to March 17, 2019.


1. Earth Overshoot Day, Global Footprint Network.
2. “What is a Circular Economy?” Ellen MacArthur Foundation
3. Waste to Wealth, Accenture