The Röchling Stiftung is a German family foundation established in 1990. Its work focuses on plastics and the environment. Promoting innovation and research is one of the foundation’s four fields of action where it hopes to find solutions to create a circular economy for plastics.
To successfully tackle climate change, the business models of companies as well as individual consumer behaviour must change. By funding Research & Development, the foundation aims to contribute to developing the necessary products and processes and to evaluating their economic viability.
The foundation aspires to improve conditions for a circular economy, in particular by building stronger ties between the science and business community in order to contribute to mitigating climate change.
Application in Practice
One example of the foundation's research funding is the project Biological Solution for Global Challenges: Plastic degradation by biological systems at the Spanish research institute Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas in Madrid.
The three-year grant from the Röchling Stiftung has enabled Dr Federica Bertocchini to focus on her research in a specialist area, investigating the ability of the wax moth larva to decompose certain polymers.
The Röchling Stiftung also funded a research project at the University of Chemnitz aiming to develop an eco-label for plastic components for commercial use. The label will span the entire life cycle of plastic components and contribute to greater consideration of ecological criteria in the purchasing decisions of industrial customers.
The foundation's funding projects are designed to promote the cross-sector transfer of knowledge and build interdisciplinary networks and research capacities to make research outcomes more easily scalable. For example, the expansion of eco-labels for plastics can help companies in various industries identify sustainable procurement options.
Improved infrastructure for Research & Development and the strengthening of cooperative approaches can also help to translate basic research into application-oriented research and improve the communication of scientific results.
What has worked well?
- Open up opportunities for dialogue: If funders want to supervise research projects independently, they require additional resources and high levels of expertise. In contrast, opening up opportunities for dialogue and building networks and structures for scaling innovations often requires fewer funds, making Research and Development an option even for smaller funders.
- Focus and integrate: Focusing on one research area helps to better understand emerging funding needs. In addition, you can create synergies when a particular field of research can be linked to other funding areas.
What are opportunities for new funders?
- Be a networker: Since foundations operate independently of economic and political interests, they are ideal intermediaries. Although they have played this role in many areas, they are still underrepresented as networkers in the research sector. It is precisely here that foundations can create added value by helping to overcome silos and transfer scientific insights into politics and business.