E-zavod (E-Institute) in Slovenia has been supporting communities and industries in planning and implementing sustainable development projects for more than 15 years. In the last couple of years, E-zavod has intensively worked on climate related challenges and became a national EIT Climate-KIC Slovenia HUB manager in January 2021. In this capacity, E-zavod mainly focused on supporting communities with their transformation to become more circular, carbon-neutral and resilient. Support is given through training, consultations, co-creation, facilitation, fund raising and similar activities. E-zavod employs an interdisciplinary team of 12 experts covering fields of biology, geography, environmental sciences, communicology, politology, finance, economy and design. 
We asked Mr. Matjaž Gerl, Senior Consultant, a few questions.  
ACR+: Why have you joined ACR+, what are your expectations regarding your membership to the network?  

M.G.: E-zavod has been very active in the field of circular economy in the last years. In 2022, a partnership with RDA Podravje Maribor was set up for the management of the CCRI Podravje pilot. E-zavod considers ACR+ to be one of the key stakeholders at the European level in the field of circular economy, bringing together knowledge, experiences and access to new developments at EU policy level. These are all interesting factors for E-zavod, besides networking and partnering for bigger EU initiatives and projects. 
ACR+: How do you cooperate with local and regional authorities?  
M.G.: E-zavod has long lasting relationships with some cities like Maribor, Velenje, Ktranj, Slovenska Bsitrica etc. in Slovenia and Udine, Košice, Rijeka, Split etc. abroad, supporting them in introducing innovative solutions into their urban management (environment, mobility, energy, digital services etc.). We also support them in raising funds for innovative and experimental projects. 
ACR+: Could you share with us one of your main achievements, a successful project you conducted?  
M.G.: The team of E-zavod managed and worked on several circular economy projects like URBANSOIL4FOOD (UIA) and Citycircle (Interreg Central Europe) and is jointly managing CCRI pilot region Podravje in partnership with RDA Podravje-Maribor. A very important circular economy project was CE-HEAT (Interreg Central Europe) where E-zavod was a lead partner and developed a comprehensive supporting toolbox for waste heat utilization which is still widely used by researchers and practitioners (www.waste-heat.eu). E-zavod also supports climate resilience through projects like Horizon 2020 nature-based solutions project UPSURGE (coordinator), MISSION CE CLIMATE project on climate resilience of cities (lead partner) or LIFE project LIFE4POLINATORS. 
ACR+: Do you have one or 2 main actions/projects that you would like to implement in the upcoming year?  
M.G.: The focus of E-zavod for the upcoming years is the successful implementation of the CCRI Podravje region pilot project, where it is also igniting and generating circular systemic solutions and demonstration projects in the field of bioeconomy. E-zavod will attempt to raise funding sources and gather knowledge and business partners to enable the circular bioeconomy process in the pilot region and in other partner communities. E-zavod is interested and motivated to join international partnerships and projects interested in similar activities. 
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