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Kickstart partners with IMD to deliver course in Sustainability

Together with IMD Business School, Kickstart piloted a joint course for executives responsible for innovation and sustainability for organizations around the world about Sustainable Innovation.

Here’s how it went:

After two years of promoting Circular Economy with the help of Mava Foundation and Impact Hub, in 2021 Kickstart counted more than 40% of the project outcomes of our core program qualifying for the circular economy principles. This motivated us to take the next step toward our mission: using an open innovation approach to help our partners become more sustainable. We measure this impact using the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the UN through creating pilots and commercial projects by tailor-matching the needs of our partners with the solutions of our scaleups, to successfully accelerate sustainable innovation at scale. But how do we achieve the ‘scale’ element?

In the framework we developed, education has become a very important component. Not just for us as a team, but also for our partners - consisting of commercial organizations as well as public sector actors in Switzerland, Austria and beyond. When we first approached Julia Binder, Professor of Sustainable Innovation at IMD, she immediately agreed on a partnership, followed by Prof. Louise Moudi joining our effort.

The two-day concept we decided to pilot on together was simple:

On day one, we focus on Sustainability by learning from examples of global businesses that have been going in this direction in recent years and sharing the approaches that have worked and those that have not so far.

On day two, we narrow in on how to successfully collaborate in an open innovation environment. We invite representatives from startups and partner organizations that collaborated as a result of the Kickstart process. These representatives present their success journeys to partners on IMDs Nexus program (executives responsible for innovation and sustainability for organizations around the world), and we learn from particular examples and outcomes.

This concept was approved, and became part of the official IMDs Nexus program, held on May 5th and 6th. Among the participating case studies were Coop & tideocean, Cognizant & Oxygen at Work, City of Zurich & Akenza, Swisscom & Clara, Mobiliar & Fjuul and Axa & Veezoo.

So, what did we learn? Here are a few highlights:

  • Sustainability is not only about saving the planet, but about being more successful as a company. Also in regards to finding and retaining talent and competitive access to capital.

  • Sustainable products don’t win through features, but by being attractive to consumers.

  • The importance of system thinking so as to not create trade-offs.

  • Alignment of layers of execution with shared vision and values is key to success.

  • Even if sustainability is about greater goods, successful collaboration happens between humans which sets focus to common goals, vocabulary and value systems.

  • Kickstart’s approach to funding innovation can be one of the tools that can achieve the right innovation!

And of course, that’s just skimming the surface. Many thanks to Julia and Louise from IMD for #makingithappen with us and for sharing our ethos of innovation, sustainability and growth for a better future. 🌍💪🏼


13 Feb 2024


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