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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F-Cubed: Poised to Save the World from Pathogens

Chicago start-up F-Cubed, LLC (F3) is helping to stem the recurrence of infectious diseases across the food, health and environmental testing sectors with its disruptive invention — a portable diagnostic device that can analyze raw samples for pathogens in less than an hour.What does that mean?As an example of environmental testing, F3’s innovative analyzer can help swimmers avoid unforeseen illnesses by testing the bacteria levels within bodies of water.

2.5 Billion Aspirational Consumers Mark Shift in Sustainable Consumption

A new global consumer study by BBMG, GlobeScan and SustainAbility confirms the rise of nearly 2.5 billion consumers globally who are uniting style, social status and sustainability values to redefine consumption. According to the report, The 2013 Aspirational Consumer Index, more than one-third of consumers globally (36.4%) identify as Aspirationals, defined by their love of shopping (78%), desire for responsible consumption (92%) and their trust in brands to act in the best interest of society (58%). The study draws from telephone and in-person surveys of 21,492 consumers across 21 international markets conducted in April 2013.

Mosaic Enabling Public to Invest in Renewable Energy on U.S. Military Base, Starting at $25

Mosaic, America's first online marketplace to offer solar investments to the public, presents the first major U.S. military solar project to be funded by the public. This is a historic opportunity for Americans to invest in the nation's energy independence and troop preparedness. Launched Friday, investors large and small in the state of California can now put their dollars to work investing in solar panels on military housing.

Nest Wants to Be the Hub of the Connected Home

A company that makes a “smart” thermostat wants developers to hack together your connected home. Nest, “The Learning Thermostat,” last week announced a new developer program and Web API that will connect Nest with other items in your home such as lighting, home appliances and home automation.

Bombas Socks' One-for-One Model Helping to Warm Feet — and Hearts

New York-based startup Bombas Socks is poised to revolutionize the sock industry while spreading its message of pushing yourself to “Bee Better.”Two years ago, after learning that socks are the more requested clothing item at homeless shelters, founders David Heath and Randy Goldberg decided to create a company based on the TOMS shoes plan: One for One.Not only did Heath and Goldberg plan that for every pair of socks sold, they would donate one to a person in need, they knew that they needed to create the perfect sock. With all the new designs in the apparel industry in the past couple of decades, socks have pretty much stayed the same; they are more or less an afterthought. Heath and Goldberg worked to create a sock to “look better, feel better and perform better.”

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California Start-Up Creates Self-Filtering Water Bottle

A Southern California-based start-up called Evo Eau says it has created a reusable water bottle that filters up to 99 percent of contaminants from municipally supplied tap water.The bottle is engineered for everyday use and does more than many of its mainstream competitors in terms of filtering out contaminants and harmful carcinogens such as Chromium 6 in tap water, Evo Eau claims.The start-up says that many filtering water bottles only conform to NSF42 standards, which only asks for filters to remove 50 percent of chlorine from water. Many do not even conform to these standards and bottled water companies are held to even fewer.

BlueAvocado’s New Collection of Upcycled Accessories Provides Jobs for Female War Survivors

When we launched our business in Texas nearly five years ago, our vision was to empower millions of people to reduce their carbon footprint, invest in the dreams and journeys of female entrepreneurs, and create an impact that inspires action. We came together in 2008 as sisters and friend and started our mission-based business, BlueAvocado.Today, we are thrilled to have a variety of eco-collections for food-on-the-go, travel and beauty that can be found at The Container Store, Whole Foods, Target, JC Penney and numerous online retailers.However, a key part of our original vision was to have a made-in-the-USA line, which at the time of our launch (and the height of the recession) was simply too great a challenge.

Three Freshly Sprouted Startups on the NYC Local Food Scene

While the most hospitable territory for food startups is certainly California, New York is host to its own burgeoning food movement. We spoke with three startups, in different stages of warming up to the New York food scene, that combine their expertise in the digital space with a passion for food. Striving to make local and nutritious food more accessible, they are sparking consumer demand for local food in ways not seen in a century.Collectively, Good Eggs, Farmigo and Urbavour aim to disrupt certain themes in American food production and consumption. In place of the current system, these startups propose:

So Crafty: New Belgium Shows How Sustainable Brand Innovation Can Be a Business Driver

It makes sense that an alliance of craft breweries continues to speak out for the Clean Water Act — you can’t make great beer without great water. But what is it about the culture of craft breweries that makes them see sustainability as an innovation imperative? We asked one of the pioneers in the field, Jenn Vervier, New Belgium Brewing’s Director of Strategic Planning and Sustainability.

Back to the Start with Back to the Roots

In their last semester at UC Berkeley, Alejandro Velez and Nikhil Arora were inspired by a class lecture about the possibilities of growing mushrooms using entirely recycled coffee grounds. The perfect representation of turning waste into wages, after various experimentations the pair founded Back to the Roots in 2009. We caught up with Nikhil to learn more about the company’s business model and its newest offering, a tabletop aquaponic farm.

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Veuve Clicquot Innovates for More Sustainable Packaging

This video reveals the development process behind Veuve Clicquot's new potato starch packaging - not only is it 100% biodegradable but it's also isothermal, keeping your champagne cool for up to two hours without refrigeration.

BBMG's Raphael Bemporad on How Businesses Can Help Drive Transformational Change [Video]

In this interview from the Sustainable Brands 2013 conference in San Diego, BBMG co-founder Raphael Bemporad discusses the need for businesses to engage consumers in ways that will help drive transformational change.To learn how some brands are driving change, check out our #BrandInnovation channel.

Tesla CEO's Plans for ‘Hyperloop’ Transport System Coming in August

Billionaire chairman and CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX visionary Elon Musk says he will release designs next month for a system capable of rapidly transporting people from Los Angeles to San Francisco via a tube in under 30 minutes.In several recent Twitter posts, the real-life Tony Stark has stated he will be “happy to work with the right partners” on the project, called Hyperloop, as long as they share his vision of developing the technology “fast and without wasting money.”Musk says he is welcoming “critical feedback” on the system and will publish his plans by August 12 as open source.

How Forward-Thinking Brands Are Disrupting and Delighting Through Innovation

Calling all innovators and implementers! Sustainable Brands and BBMG have launched a new Issues in Focus editorial channel examining the most creative, inspiring and disruptive cases of brand innovation.Guest editor Carola Beeney — joined by BBMG founders Raphael Bemporad and Mitch Baranowski and the SB editorial team — is curating a broad selection of articles to help illuminate this emerging paradigm, for publication throughout the year.

Celebrating the Emergence of a New Generation of Business Innovators

When you look at the environmental and social challenges we face, it's often tough to stay optimistic. The worst predictions of climate science are coming true. Resource scarcity — especially water — is a major threat to business and the economy. Worker conditions around the world, like those that led to the unfathomable recent tragedies in Bangladesh, can seem like intractable problems. And the political system that we need to tackle big issues is mostly broken.

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Lego Thinking: Key to Futureproofing Your Brand?

Key to futureproofing is creating a brand that fulfills your customers' higher order needs — things such as meaning, authenticity, self-fulfillment and all those other wonderful aspirations at the top of Maslow’s pyramid.But what if your consumer finds him- or herself in flux, discovering a purchase that felt meaningful a short time ago suddenly seems, well, less so today? How can you keep up with this sort of rapidly evolving ‘higher order’ demand?With Lego thinking.

When It Comes to Sustainable Innovation, Corporates Can Learn a Lot from Entrepreneurs

One of the core ideas behind sustainable branding is that, by thinking of social problems as business opportunities, companies can gain a competitive advantage. It follows then that a very important core competency in the quest for sustainable branding is the ability to identify social and environmental opportunities and to turn them into innovative business solutions.In other words, much of sustainable branding is about human-centered innovation and understanding how to continuously create relevance and value in the lives of individuals. This is a field that has advanced significantly in recent years with the increasing prominence of approaches such as design thinking, co-creation and customer development.

Learning How to Share Again [Video]

As toddlers, most of us had to learn how to share against our more basic instincts.

Consumers Believe Brands Can Have Positive Impact but Are Failing to Do So

For all the talk about how important brands are in people's lives, the evidence points firmly in the other direction.

More Life Now! A Manifesto for Rejuvenative Technology

At a time when authoritative studies highlight our lack of progress on existing environmental goals and the scale of the threats we may face, we need to turn away from incrementalism, from rationing our unsustainability, towards new models of technological and economic innovation.

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