Application Areas

ECO-INNOVATION

HOW CAN INNOVATION HELP COMPANIES GO GREEN?

Innovation has long been seen as central to economic performance and social welfare; it is increasingly recognised as a significant driver of economic growth. Recently, industry leaders and policy makers have also looked at innovation as the key to making radical improvements in corporate environmental practices and performance.

The OECD [1] defines innovation as "...the implementation of a new or significantly improved product (good or service), or process, a new marketing method, or a new organisational method in business practices, workplace organisation or external relations...". Eco-innovation is generally the same as other types of innovation but with two important distinctions:

  • Eco-innovation represents innovation that results in a reduction of environmental impact, no matter whether that effect is intended or not.
  • The scope of eco-innovation may go beyond the conventional organisational boundaries of the innovating organisation and involve broader social arrangements that trigger changes in existing socio-cultural norms and institutional structures.

Three main facets of eco-innovation can be distinguished (see Figure 1):

Eco-innovationFigure 1. Three facets of eco-innovation

  1. Targets, which are the basic focus areas of eco-innovation. These are products, processes, marketing methods, organisations, and institutions. Eco-innovation in products and processes tends to rely on technological development, while eco- innovation in marketing, organisations and institutions relies more on non-technological changes.
  2. Mechanisms, which are how changes in the target areas are made. They can involve modification of practices, re-design of practices, alternatives to existing practices, or the creation of new practices.
  3. Impacts, which are how the eco-innovation affects environmental conditions. Experience shows that more radical changes in methods, such as alternatives
    and creation, usually result in higher environmental benefits.

FOCUS AT RESEARCH GROUP

We aspire to support eco-innovation by research to support companies in developing new products, services and technologies that are sustainable. We do this via research on methods and tools for support in the early ideation and conceptualisation processes to know before creation the impact on ecological, economical and social sustainability, and value proposal of solutions.

REFERENCES

1. OECD (2009), Sustainable Manufacturing and Eco‐innovation: Framework, Measurement and Industry and policy practices, Synthesis report,

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