At the Africa-Europe Innovation Partnership (AEIP) we hold a webinar on ‘Sustainable Business Modelling for Cleantech’. Participants will learn to apply sustainable business model design patterns to an innovation challenge or a new business idea in the field of cleantech. Using an online collaboration platform they generate and prioritise ideas, how to advance the business model in a sustainability-oriented manner, and sketch and refine new business models.   Prof. Dr. Florian Lüdeke-Freund and Henning will conduct the session to address the following questions: • How to capitalise on the green and social values that motivate and guide green start-ups in delivering sustainable innovations? • How to support and nurture profitable and sustainability-oriented business model innovation in cleantech? • How to improve the sustainability profile of an existing business idea?   The Africa-Europe Innovation Partnership (AEIP) is organizing a virtual event, under the patronage of the South African Ministry for Science, Technology and Innovation, as part of their annual Science Forum. The AEIP is an initiative of the African Union-European Union High Level Policy Dialogue, with funding from the EC, aiming to support and connect innovation and technology incubators, accelerators and technology transfer actors from both continents. It was launched by the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission in September 2019 in Nairobi (Kenya), to strengthen innovation cooperation between Africa and the EU.

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Innovating in Times of Crisis is the motto of the upcoming ISPIM Virtual Conference. We are featuring a new Special Interest Group with a dedicated track on Values-Based and Sustainable Innovation with some of the worldwide leading innovation specialists from research and advanced practice. As co-hosts of the conference we also contribute Values-Based and Sustainability-Oriented Innovation Management as focal topics. Changing customer and stakeholder values and normative frameworks such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the United Nations create new challenges and opportunities for innovation. We call for demonstrations of innovation approaches and solutions for key societal challenges on local, regional and global levels and how these can create our common innovation future.   20200522_CSI_Game_Instructions_ISPIM

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The current global crisis is shaking up everyone. Everybody’s life and every business is affected. While most people are still overwhelmed by the speed and diversity of related news and countermeasures, for some theorists these reactions already prove mankind’s ability for radical change based on scientific anticipation, values of solidarity and a primacy of politics and multilateralism over short-lived interests. However, will it allow us to look beyond the day into our common future?  

The management view

Corporate managers are well aware from previous crises that new profits, but also heavy losses in market share, arise in phases of economic downturn, more so than in phases of growth. Most of them anticipate that many of these losses and gains will outlast the acute crisis situation, and that innovation is their best vaccination against such a crisis. Some suspect that today’s customer concerns and desires make tomorrow’s business models, and look for ways of their sustainability-oriented renewal.  

The customer view

Likewise, many customers take a crisis as a chance to review their routines, and to reflect upon what is important to them, what they are missing most during a lockdown, and what they care about in any case. Even though some individuals are seeking to turn back time and suspect evil forces behind the situation, many are dealing with the crisis creatively, as any crisis pushes our readiness to change and innovate.  

The social researcher's view

Social research points out that the resulting shifts in behaviour and values are tricky to detect. Close observation and well-informed interpretation are required to see how and why customers do what they do: Which previously weak signals now turn into mainstream? Which new behaviours and values emerge that lead to a depreciation of taken-for-granted routines and push the adoption of innovations? And which customer insights can be derived from what we have been missing most?  

Beyond the new normal

Most people are now striving to get back to what is called the “new normal”, and imagine it like the life before the crisis, just with a few acceptable handicaps. However, we need to get beyond just going back to get in touch with what we care about. Along with an increased readiness for change comes the risk of seeking innovation primarily in crisis management mode. Already managers and politicians are negotiating which types of (combustion, electric, hydrogen) car engine purchases should benefit from state funding to overcome the economic downturn due to the crisis – instead of clarifying a shared vision of sustainable mobility first. According insights (e.g. from Agora) and scenarios are already available. Such foresight might keep them from state funding of generic categories of economic actors (e.g. small versus mid-sized companies) and interest groups independent of their environmental performance. Based on this it would be easier to see that recovery plans for combustion engines are not the way forward, but that whole ecosystems involving new services, regional planning and infrastructures, legislation and tax models are crucial parts of the agenda. However, moving towards a desirable future, it may not suffice to meet minimal environmental requirements and thresholds. Instead, we should agree upon and strive for a positive impact in each industry and each firm.  

Advancing from coping to caring for our common future

The conference theme of values-based innovation and the headlines of the global innovation conferences – ISPIM 2020 (Innovating in Times of Crisis) and ISPIM 2021 in Berlin (Innovating Our Common Future) – indicate this shift in perspectives. They also point to a major challenge we are facing over the next few months: How to proceed from coping with the current crisis to caring for our common future. Accordingly, this question will guide closing panel this year (with Allen Alexander of University of Exeter, Joana Breidenbach of betterplace.org and Klaus Fichter of Oldenburg University & Borderstep Institute for Innovation and Sustainability). What distinguishes coping from caring? Would you agree to the following contrasting juxtapositions?   Actually, coping and caring are not either or, nor a sequence of activities – as this table may suggest. Instead, the ways in which we cope with crisis already reflects the ways we care for our future – the second perspective is just more comprehensive.  

Upcoming isses for innovators

Moving on from coping to caring, how can we include sustainability-oriented goals into normative directives for companies and economic stakeholders, and transfer them into domain specific challenges, goals and innovation projects to achieve? How can we succeed with new business models that foster sustainable development? How can we continuously assess related activities against our normative goals? And how should we engage the stakeholders (especially customer and employees) in the process? The upcoming conferences 2020 online and 2021 in Berlin (both co-hosted by UXBerlin) address these and related questions. We will be happy to have you join us!

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Now online: The webinar on the use of remote games to foster innovation by Sune Gudiksen, Henning Breuer and Kiril Ivanov. "Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow" (William Pollard, 1828-1893). In the last few weeks, this statement has gained additional importance. The current circumstances caused by the coronavirus pandemic have not only forced numerous businesses to rapidly and effectively adopt a remote mindset, but have also confronted them with accompanying challenges for individuals and teams. How can companies ensure that innovative ideas of its stakeholders can be managed appropriately without face-to-face interaction? How can they rapidly align and constantly renew their portfolio in order to withstand economic pressure during the crisis and in the future?     The webinar gives insights into the opportunities and usage of remote games that foster innovation. It provides guidelines on how to drive innovation through remote games in times of crisis. What can you expect to take away from the webinar?

  • An understanding of the need to promote innovation even in remote situations to continue successful operation in complex and demanding markets.
  • An overview of opportunities to address this need with remote games and other initiatives in order to foster innovation throughout the remote team.
  • An introduction to the setup of the games and game elements, as well as the know-how and an exchange of experiences from our business partners.

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