We seem to have a problem. Health care costs are doubling every thirteen years in the US, (Regalado 2013). By 2030 they will devour a third of the US federal budget (Regalado 2013). In spite of this, the US was ranked last in 2011 by the Commonwealth Fund in quality of health care among similar countries (Wikipedia 2013). We can sense the impending disaster and it seems the hope is that our usual panaceas for all problems, policy, technology or better education, will someday deliver us from our pains. But how?
Global diversity is in crisis. Scientists have recently announced that our planet is in the middle of the sixth global mass extinction event and this time it’s man-made. Not since the time of the dinosaurs have so many species been under threat and it’s not just the environmental infrastructure which should be giving us cause for concern.
This article relates selected multidirectional patterns of change—“force fields”—in the business environment to innovation strategy within the context of Zen philosophical principles. Three force fields are selected for brief evaluation: 1) domestic vs. global markets, 2) economic growth vs. environmental quality, and 3) entrepreneurs vs. customer base. Given the omnipresence of force fields in the 21st century, businesses should maintain flexible structures for innovating both incrementally and radically. They also need to engage in collaboration at all institutional levels. Collaboration can facilitate the Zen objective of integrating conflicting ideas, a key feature of innovation over the long run.
SMEs have sustainability on their radar. Their main goal is economic sustainability. To achieve this goal, they can take ecological and social sustainability as an opportunity for innovation instead of just considering it as a mere cost driver. Thus innovation and sustainability become the two sides of the coin called profitable growth.
The majority of managers who say that their company’s sustainability activities have added to profits also say that sustainability has led to business model change. What connects corporate sustainability with business profits? According to our 2012 global executive survey on sustainability, an important factor is business model innovation. Managers who say that their company’s sustainability activities have added to the company’s profits are more than twice as likely to say that sustainability has caused their organization to change their business model than not.
Last year I came in contact with the co-founder and advisor of the Biorrefiniria Brasil open innovation community, José Augusto T. R. Tomé. He started an interesting venture within the chemical sector, a venture focused on biorefinery. Read further to learn more about his vibrant innovation community and open innovation in general.
Taking care of the dead is an important part of any society, and the practice reflects the prevailing culture of the living. Social change is therefore reflected in funeral changes and some of the disruptions to its industry.
Small scale green spaces are springing up in place of parking spaces. So called parklets are proving popular both as an annual temporary event, but also as community driven and enabled developments. They can enhance community, quality of life, potentially clean the air and provide recharging – for humans and our mobiles.
The internet of things has shipped out to sea. A number of remote sensing technologies have been employed to monitor various aspects of the ocean to improve weather forecasts, safer resource exploration, and climate change mitigation with benefits to companies, policymakers, and the planet.
With global warming implicated in current droughts, storms, impending extinctions, sea level rise, and other harbingers of climate change, some experts are looking past the debate for placing the blame on humanity and questioning whether technological solutions could improve or injure humanity and the ecosystem which protects us. With geoengineering, the manipulation of the planet’s environment on a large scale, scientists are trying to innovate on nature for the sake of human survival, but could these technologies actually do more harm than good?
Cookers, bikes, beds, tents, a school club, computers, vacuum cleaners, coat hangers – they are part of a growing range of new applications for cardboard, old and new. A combination of trends is enabling this growth: consumer expectations to reduce and reuse packaging continue to rise; new processes are enabling more effective cleaning of paper for re-use; emerging nations are focusing on frugal innovation and new products to support growing aspirations and local markets.
Food packaging has often focused on two primary consumer aspects; convenience and preserving the quality of the food. Consumer’s environmental and health concerns and corporation’s supply chain and energy cost goals are driving innovation in food packaging; creating a growing demand for changes.
Cities have long attempted to bring the rural into the urban, whether the Hanging Gardens of Babylon or Singapore’s new Gardens by the Bay, but urban agriculture is increasing with green roofs and other forms of urban farming as the population of cities continues to expand. Based largely on the theories of Dickson Despommier, architects have been designing the ultimate in city-based agribusiness, vertical farms inside of high rise buildings which some have dubbed plantscrapers.
September 2011, the Green Chemistry Campus has started on a small scale. The vision of the Campus is to become the open chemical innovation centre when it comes to biobased innovations. In a biobased economy, ‘green’ materials take over the role of fossil fuels like oil. The Green Chemistry Campus wants to be the driving force for this development: an environment where larger and smaller companies, knowledge institutes and the authorities work together in an open innovation structure, to develop new products and technologies, focusing on biobased materials, -chemicals and -coatings. A dynamo, so that the companies involved can accelerate making a profit from their biobased business and speed up the transition to a biobased economy.
Sustainability may still not be on the top of everyone’s priority list, but those who do take green action get results, and big ones. Chris Sherwin, Head of Sustainability at Seymourpowell, shares his reaction to this year’s Fast Company 50, where a few pleasantly surprising sustainability innovators could be found among the trend setters.