The OECD and the European Commission held a fascinating workshop earlier this year in Copenhagen entitled “The future of Eco-Innovation: The role of business models in green transformation”, and I was fortunate enough to be invited to speak there. A handful of representatives from some truly amazing companies, myself included, were asked to help the workshop experts “showcase good practices of radical and systemic eco-innovations”. What a great validation for our belief in TaKaDu’s potential to transform the water industry!
It’s not an easy subject for idealists, policy-makers, academics, and people from industry – all present at the workshop – to discuss, though. Whatever their beliefs and private motivations, business leaders need to build viable businesses, where “green” technology can only triumph if it promotes great tangible value. This can typically be through marketing and public perception, concrete cost savings, or regulatory compliance. Yet on a national or global level, innovation for sustainability is often recognised as a goal in its own right. Can the two paradigms be brought together, and not just at the superficial “greenwashing” of entrenched industrial methods? Are big government grants for R&D consortia the best way to encourage this – vying with business investors to steer the industry, or should policy-makers wield their power in more unique ways?
For the case study of TaKaDu, I tried to explain what makes our technology, business, and industry so special, and how they are inextricably linked. Building on that, I shared some views on where government or international economic policy (the OECD’s main interests) can encourage and shape ecologically beneficial innovation. This, we hope, can harness and reinforce the entrepreneurial spirit and innovative capacity of business and technology innovators towards globally beneficial goals.