Product, Service & Design Innovation

The latest products, services, design approaches and business models that are helping organizations of all sizes deliver on their sustainability ambitions and establish a new business as usual.

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Umicore: How Sustainability-Driven Innovation Transformed a Failing Mining Company Into a Materials Tech Power Player

Umicore’s ranking as #1 on the 2013 Global 100 index of most sustainable companies was met with healthy skepticism by social justice advocates and environmental purists. The company’s history as Union Minière du Haut Katanga created devastation that Umicore will need to continue to remedy at a hefty price tag.

More than 70 Mainstream Brands Now Taking Part in Collaborative Economy

I have been leading a research effort to understand the impacts of the growing Collaborative Economy trend. In case you are new to the collaborative economy, there's an unstoppable wave of people trading, renting and borrowing all kinds of services and goods. The disruptive impacts to brands are potentially very high. Consumers are already buying and trading among themselves, often without purchasing items directly from the brands themselves. Companies that don't pay attention to this trend are leaving themselves in a state of risk, as technology and society continue to quickly innovate.

The Power of Three Words: Not-for-Profit

Ever since we started writing and speaking about our current book project, How on Earth: Flourishing in a Not-for-Profit World by 2050, we have been amazed by one phenomenon in particular: When we have a chance to explain to people what not-for-profit (NFP) enterprise actually is, we get an incredible response from all sectors and political spheres to the proposition that not-for-profit business lies at the heart of our future global economy.

The Alchemy of Sustainability: 5 Forces That Will Drive More Meaning, Growth and Impact in 2014

At BBMG, we often use archetypes to help reveal a brand’s true character and provide a North Star for the products, services and experiences it can bring into the world.My favorite is the Alchemist, whose core desire is to search out the fundamental laws of how things work and apply these principles to make things happen. The Alchemist integrates physical, environmental and spiritual elements to spark transformation in people, organizations and our times.In 2014, we see an alchemy of economic, environmental and social values that will bring new opportunities for business and society, and we’ve identified five forces that will advance a more sustainable marketplace:

How Brands Can Unlock Our Adventures

Many classic tales of adventure begin with an empowering gift: something that opens doors, reveals possibilities, or helps to overcome obstacles. D’Artagnan’s father presents him with fifteen crowns, a horse and a letter of introduction; James Bond goes to see Q to pick up his car and gadgets; the Master of Jordan College gives Lyra the all-knowing, all-telling alethiometer.

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New COMMON Marketplace Allows You to Buy ‘Nothing’

Imagine a marketplace where you can buy — or not buy — products and services that accelerate social innovation by redefining the capitalist narrative; a place where you can purchase or sell “goods for good” from companies or to consumers around the world. Look no further come February 12, when the COMMON Marketplace makes its official debut.Developed by COMMON, the world’s first “collaborative brand” made up of a community of creative and business professionals, the organization says the new online marketplace is a place where “goods for good” can be bought and sold. In order to sell on the Marketplace, companies must apply and meet a set of design, sustainability and collaborative criteria.

Bosch Connected Devices and Solutions to Broaden Possibilities for Internet of Things and Services

Bosch has expanded its offering beyond the design of home appliances to form a new company, Bosch Connected Devices and Solutions GmbH, for the Internet of things and services: The company will supply compact electronic products and software expertise designed to make devices and objects intelligent and web-enabled across a broad range of applications. It will initially focus on sensor-based applications for intelligently networked homes, or “smart homes,” as well as for activities in the fields of traffic, transportation and logistics.

How Your Brand Can Counter the Cynics This Christmas

Cynicism about the social role of brands soars at Christmas. Back in the 1950s, singer-songwriter Tom Lehrer riffed on various carols: Hark the Herald Tribune sings, Advertising wondrous things. God rest ye merry, merchants, May you make the Yuletide pay. Angels we have heard on high Tell us to go out and buy!Could brands add something to Christmas beyond gifts and greed? Cultural rituals are all about community: We share food, read stories or sing songs to reinforce shared understandings of our history and the values we share as a society. How can brands help people to get to the heart of the community spirit?

Finalists for Unilever’s Young Entrepreneurs Awards Creating Groundbreaking Social Solutions

Unilever and the Cambridge Program for Sustainability Leadership (CPSL) have announced the seven finalists for the inaugural Unilever Sustainable Living Young Entrepreneurs Awards, an international awards program designed to inspire young people around the world to tackle environmental, social and health issues.The competition, open to anyone aged 30 years or under, looks for inspiring practical, tangible solutions to help make sustainable living commonplace.

Kuli Kuli's Socially & Nutritionally Sustaining Moringa Superfood Bars Debut at Whole Foods

Six months after successfully raising more than $50,000 through one of the highest-grossing crowdfunding food campaigns of all-time, Oakland, Calif., startup Kuli Kuli has launched its first line of moringa superfood bars at 10 Whole Foods locations throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.Kuli Kuli Bars are gluten-free, vegan and made with just a few simple all-natural ingredients, the company says. The bars are low in calories but contain high amounts of fiber, protein and vitamins. The primary ingredient? Moringa.

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Entrepreneurs Hoping to Fix Food System by Taking the “Ick!” Out of Cricket

Earlier this year, the United Nations released a report on incorporating insects into the diet as a means of increasing nutrition in developing nations and reducing the carbon footprint of the food production industry. While many might have taken this report as a bit of a novelty, it has captured the imagination of several mindful entrepreneurs set to change the way we eat.

Uber Spreading Holiday Cheer with Christmas Tree Delivery

International on-demand car-service app Uber has announced a partnership with Home Depot to deliver Christmas trees to residents in 10 US cities. With a bit of luck, good timing and holiday magic, Uber will deliver a live tree to your doorstep today for $135, according to its blog.What to do:

Scrappy Start-Ups Finding New Options for Crowdfunding

Ryan Kushner and his wife, Amanda Ravenhill, launched their non-profit start-up, Hero Hatchery, whose mission is to “wake society up to the imminent threat of climate change, and illuminate the possibility it holds as a call to reinvent current unhealthy systems,” in October. They hope to raise $30,000 for the world’s first crowdfunded fellowship to support a climate-change activist who will bring out the climate change hero in us all and work to ensure climate change maintains its relevancy in the cultural zeitgeist.

BBMG-SHFT Partnership Helping Brands Engage Savvy, Values-Driven Consumers

Last month, brand innovation consultancy BBMG and sustainable-lifestyle platform SHFT announced they are joining forces on a new branded content offering for organizations aiming to reach and engage Aspirational consumers, a fast-growing consumer segment that cares about looking good, feeling good and doing good.Combining BBMG’s consumer insights and brand-building expertise with SHFT’s creative and production capacity and the SHFT.com lifestyle platform, the partnership offers a new approach to developing and delivering original branded content designed to disrupt and delight.

Beyond the Manifesto: Holstee's Mike Radparvar on the Company's Reframe

Holstee’s mission has always been to encourage more mindful living, whether that meant enabling consumers to proclaim their principles boldly on a graphic poster or to purchase with a purpose. Originally finding its niche in apparel and then in poster design, Holstee has again pivoted, this time landing in fine art with the launch of the Reclaimed Frame project — a subscription service that sends subscribers new prints every month to be rotated in and out of a frame made of wood from Detroit’s 78,000 abandoned structures.

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Back to the Roots, Revolution Foods Team Up to 'Grow Food, Give Food' to U.S. Schools

Oakland, Calif., start-up Back to the Roots (BTTR), which has made a name for itself with its DIY mushroom kits and new “AquaFarm” home aquaponics system, has taken another step in fulfilling its commitment to “making food personal again.” Through a new joint campaign with healthy school-lunch provider Revolution Foods, the two like-minded organizations are furthering both of their missions to educate and inspire children about healthy food.

Social Enterprise Uses Baskets to Build Schools, Empower Women in West Africa

A social enterprise called Jjangde is tackling two of the largest problems in West Africa — lack of access to education and employment — by connecting handmade goods from rural communities in Senegal to global markets, and using the profits to fund schools in the communities where the goods were made.With a test run of baskets, Jjangde says it was able to fund a summer program that gave 300 students extra support for the upcoming school year. The company also fully funded one year of school for 110 students and developed an exchange program to strengthen the relationship between high schools in Senegal and the United States.

New Social Network Helps Community Projects Find 'neighbourly' Corporate Sponsors

Each week leading up to our SB London conference, where the winner of the SB London Innovation Open (SBIOL) will be announced on November 18, we will get to know each of our four finalists. This week, meet neighbourly.com.

GravityLight: A People- and Planet-Friendly Bright Spot for Many Without Electricity

Each week leading up to our SB London conference, where the winner of the SB London Innovation Open (SBIOL) will be announced on November 18, we will get to know each of our four finalists. This week, meet GravityLight.UK-based social enterprise Deciwatt is certainly living up to its goal of “doing more with less”: The company is capitalizing on the intangible but powerful natural phenomenon, gravity, to produce light for those who need it most.

TOMS Shoes Creates Home for Imitators with New TOMS Marketplace

TOMS Shoes, which has helped provide shoes for children in need around the worldwide with its One for One® model, helped spearhead the burgeoning movement of social entrepreneurs creating similar business models based on addressing a problem while making a profit.But instead of admonishing or suing his growing contingent of imitators, TOMS founder and chief shoe giver Blake Mycoskie has applauded them, and now has taken his support one step further with the launch today of the new TOMS Marketplace.

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