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In my 4th report on Innovation Leading Practice, written back in 2010, I felt rather daring when declaring that sustainability would soon become a qualifier, a minimum entry criterium that allows organisations to play, rather than being a differentiator. It seems this has happened sooner than I thought!  

One key argument customary used by managers was: "Even if we wanted to embrace sustainability (in the sense of the triple bottom line), investors would penalise us for it."  Only few, such as UK retailer Marks & Spencer, were brave enough to swim against the stream.

Marks & Spencer

In 2007, M&S launched Plan A, committing to address challenges on climate change, waste, sustainable raw materials, "fair partnership" and health on 100 specific targets by 2012. It did this despite much criticism in the City. Expecting to invest £200m to achieve these goals, M&S found that plan A broke even early, by 2009/10 it had already added £50m to the bottom line.

It seems, this argument is no longer valid. According to the 7th Global Study on business issues conducted by BCG in collaboration with the MIT Sloan Management Review, “74% of all surveyed investors believe that sustainability performance matters more than it did three years ago”, and “75% of executives in investment firms agree that a company’s good sustainability performance is materially important to their firms when making investment decisions.”   In addition, more than 50% of investors not only declared to be up to speed with their charges sustainability practices but also that their organisations are excluding or divesting those companies that have poor sustainability performance.  

It seems it is now up to companies to catch up!  As the report further reveals, even though 90% of executives believe that sustainability is important, only 60% say that their company  has a sustainability strategy in place, and just 25% build this into a business case they could present to investors.

It seems that the time for sustainability, for sustainable innovation is NOW.  Which means it is the perfect time and place to invite you to enter any disruptive, exciting and impactful innovation that leads towards sustainability for the Katerva Awards.  Before I continue I should actually declare a self-interest here:  I just love Katerva. Its aims, and its holistic, systemic approach.  For my sins, I am even volunteering as Director of the Awards Programme.... Perhaps that encourages rather than deters you from keeping an eye out for, and entering, aforementioned innovations via the Nominee Candidate Form?! For more information see either Katerva's website and or the Form itself.


I am delighted to share that Friend of the ILF Denise DeLuca will published a brilliant book: Re-Aligning With Nature later this month.  While I have not seen it I know Denise’s work and cannot wait to lay my hands on it (have already pre-ordered my copy of it!).

Get involved

Another very fascinating and active member of the ILF Wider Community is Alexei Levene, serial entrepreneur and heavily engaged in sustainable innovations.  One of the projects he is involved with is “Culture Unplugged”, and Culture Unplugged (CU) are currently looking for Interns.  Below a bit more information:

• CU is a foundation that compiles free documentaries for social change through a portal and festivals, has over 15,000 documentaries listed, 10+ million hits a month 

• the team sits in Kerala, South India and are looking for interns to join the team in their eco-campus for 3 months and to work effectively on supporting the the cause

• there are various opportunities to add value and interns may be doing anything from watching and categorising documentaries to working on the website or writing content. 

• this is a unique environment and will suit someone looking to work diligently, who enjoys nature, who loves film and who wants to participate in using media as a force for good

• interested applicants can email Alexei in the first instance

Back in November 2014 NESTA launched the Longitude Prize, seeking solutions to “The challenge to create a cost-effective, accurate, rapid, and easy-to-use test for bacterial infections that will allow health professionals worldwide to administer the right antibiotics at the right time.”  In order to maximise the number and diversity of entrants to the Longitude Prize they have launched the Discovery Awards, small seed grants to help teams and individuals further develop their ideas for the Longitude Prize. Application deadline is the 26th August. 

And finally, Friend of the ILF Madeleine van der Steege is involved in research into Leadership in a VUCA World (VUCA - Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous).  Would be super if you could support this research by completing a very short survey which is part of the International Community Platform’s 2016 research program Uncovering & nurturing growth opportunities. We are collaborating in this survey with Synquity, a local team of international experts dedicated to the field of leadership. 

By the way, there is a book on Leadership in a VUCA World coming out soon - about about that next time!

And don’t forget, the submission deadline for the IET Innovation Awards is 8th July 2016.


Here a selection of the events happening over the next few weeks which the ILF is partnering with  (generally meaning: discount!)







7th & 8th June, Hamburg, Germany                                              7th & 8th June, London, UK
Industrial IoT Europe Summit                                                        Insurance IoT Summit




7th to 9th June, Pittsburg, US                                                       13th & 14th June, Berlin, Germany:
INPEX - The Invention & Product Exposition                                   IoT Tech Expo Germany

14th to 16th June, Barcelona, Spain                                              19th to 22nd June, Porto, Portugal
IoT Global Innovation Forum 2016                                                XXVII ISPIM Innovation Conference


20th to 22nd June, London, UK                                                    29th & 30th June, Singapore
Design Thinkers Academy: Ethnography workshop                         
Chief Innovation Officer Summit

6th July, Berlin, Germany: WorkTech 2016

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