In 2016, VCF started as a local association to strengthen circular economy in Friesland, by connecting 25 businesses: today it involves more than 100 companies!
Although circular economy CE was a new concept in 2016, several Frisian companies were interested in the transition and needed support in term of knowledge development, exchange, networking and collaboration.
‘How and where do I begin with a CE?’ was the VCF starting query that led 7 companies to take the first step towards closing the loop by commissioning, alongside the Province of Friesland and the Municipality of Leeuwarden, an analysis of the flow of (raw) materials in the region. The resulting report inspired the birth of VCF: Frisian entrepreneurs, knowledge institutions, (social) organizations and governments were galvanized by the countless circular possibilities, opportunities and promising cycles.
In addition to the organization of important awareness raising and focused events, VCF works with thematical oriented value chain brokers that initiate and stimulate the knowledge exchange and collaboration in a specific field, mobilizing companies and organizations to adopt a circular perspective.
The association had significant positive impacts by making CE a priority objective within the regional innovation strategies and influencing the future development of a circular economy transition subside, as well as on the implementation of cross-regional actions in Northern Netherlands.
In 2016, VCF started with just 25 associated and received financial support from the Friesland Province: VCF counts now more than 100 members from all Quadruple Helix sectors.

Resources needed

VCF is a not for profit organization.
•Yearly turnover about EUR 800k/1mil
ca. EUR 250k from membership contributions
ca. EUR 200k from structural funding from the province of Fryslan
ca. EUR 400k/500k= ERDF funding
•4 to 5 full-time
1 management
3 brokers
1 communication

Evidence of success

VCF has a quadrupled its members in just few years: 80 of the more than 100 associated are companies, mainly SMEs, highlighting the importance of the circular economy transition for the economic players of Friesland Province.
VCF is a great example of participative governance obtained through the cooperation among the Quadruple Helix actors that feeds not only in the governmental decision-making about CE, but also on the educational, research, civil society and business spheres.

Difficulties encountered

The main initial challenge was represented by the novelty of the CE concept and lack of univocal characterization: thanks to the cooperation among Friesland Province, the private sector and the educational sphere, the first analysis was committed and proved the feasibility of the circular transition

Potential for learning or transfer

The potential for learning and related transferability derives from the positive role that the Province of Friesland played in the creation and support of VCF by early recognizing the potential of the association and by aligning its objectives to those of the economic players. Since each regional authority has its own characteristics and governance structure, the replicability lies on the modality of participation and support given by the regional government that was capable of noticing the significance of CE for the local economy, which led to the decision of helping VCF (granting funding for enhancing innovation and knowledge transfer in the CE filed) and embracing CE as one of the main strategical objectives for the province: Frisland has been awarded Best Dutch Circular Region and is recognized as frontrunner in CE. VCF has already transferred and combined its effort with similar organizations in the neighbouring area by developing the Northern Netherlands Circular Alliance.

Please login to see the expert opinion of this good practice.

Main institution
Circular Friesland Association - Vereniging Circulair Friesland
Friesland (NL), Netherlands (Nederland)
Start Date
January 2015
End Date


Sara Bergamin Please login to contact the author.