There once was a time when people thought that economic progress was a peaceful process and that growth was a gradual and sure thing. But Joseph Schumpeter (the twentieth century economist) came along and opened our eyes to the chaos of innovation.
“Creative destruction,” as Schumpeter* called it – is in fact, closer to reality. And today, arguably more than at any other time in history, we know this to be true: we’ve seen business and technologies come and go – some undermining others in the process – and some that completely changed the economic and business landscape through their presence. Today, we have a single word for these upheavals and “creative destructions.” We call it innovation.
We sometimes forget that innovation has two sides to it: it destroys as it creates.
Innovation destroys, because certain innovations can destroy established companies or even make an entire market obsolete (Think of the cassette, slide projector, and floppy disk markets).**
But innovation also creates and establishes new ways of living, and thus of consuming. Innovation is creating more efficient ways of producing services or products. And in its strongest form, innovation is discovering or bringing to life new and more eco- and human-friendly products and services.
It is this aspect of innovation that companies want to harness and have on their side.
And that is why Schumpeter talks of creative destruction. Innovation means getting rid of what went before, and replacing it with something new and better.
Lately, with climate change finally receiving the recognition and response it so deserves, our definition of “better” has taken on a very specific meaning. We no longer just want innovation for the sake of staying afloat in a chaotic economic market. Instead, we desperately seek out innovation to make the way we live more environmentally friendly.
While people are changing their behaviour to live more eco-friendly lifestyles, companies are seeking ways to minimize waste, change products, change the ways their products are being used for less environmental impact, and researching ways to make better use of current resources.
And that is why the Procter & Gamble InQbet campus by Workero was proud to have been a part of the Big Score Sessions on sustainable production. (Read more about these sessions here and watch the interview that launched the day’s proceedings in the clip below:).
Eight startups with cutting-edge technologies on how to achieve more sustainable production and systems within companies, presented their ideas on the 2nd of April 2021. Let’s take a quick look at their exciting and creative ideas that will hopefully destroy some of the old-fashioned and harmful ways we’ve been doing things.
Innovation in Sustainable Production
B4Plastics creates bioplastic that strikes the right balance between being strong, affordable, and ecologically friendly (it is biodegradable). As Polymer Architects, their innovation helps us do away with a world in which we are constantly ingesting microplastics. Isn’t that awesome?!
Blue Foot Membranes addresses the imminent problem of water scarcity through their innovative membrane bioreactors (biological treatment plant with a very fine membrane filter at the end) which allows you to reuse water. While membrane bioreactors are nothing new, membrane bioreactors are typically difficult to use, energy intensive, and the membranes tend to clog and leak. But Blue Foot Membranes manufacture unbreakable membrane filters that can filter twice as much water as other membranes, thus halving energy costs and the ecological footprint.
Next, Menapy makes it its mission to get companies to use renewable energy through on-site solar power purchase agreements (PPAs). Menapy’s strength is that they are bringing their expertise of on-site PPAs to countries that are not yet familiar with these kinds of agreements, thus making the use of renewable energy more widespread. They’re on a mission to make use of empty and unused roofs and, of course, sunshine!
Inopsys’s innovative and side stream solutions help the pharmaceutical and chemical industries to manage and re-use their (often toxic and non-biodegradable) waste in a responsible way. Different from other models that rely on transport and incineration of harmful waste materials, Inopsys works on site (yet, no need to build new infrastructure), extracts harmful and (often useful) materials from the waste, and does biological wastewater treatment.
Qpinch offers a large-scale energy efficiency solution with their breakthrough in heat-pump technology. Industrial energy use contributes to about 30% of CO2 emissions, much of it produced when heating up products. Qpinch has found a way of harnessing the heat that is emitted during production, allowing manufacturers to re-use up to 50% of the heat (thus dramatically reducing CO2 emissions).
ValCUN makes metal 3D-printing fast, economical, and sustainable. Compared to other metal additive manufacturing processes, ValCUN estimates that their disruptive technology could lower the environmental impact of metal 3D printing significantly (as opposed to working with a solid aluminium block and cutting away at it to obtain the final product), since one significantly reduces the amount of waste produced in the production process.
Ekopak offers a Water-as-a-Service (Waas) solution: they design, build, maintain and operate sustainable industrial water treatment solutions – turning their industrial customers from water consumers to water producers. Their approach is holistic and specialized: they look at each of their client’s unique needs and then work out a way for them to save and re-use water on site.
Finally, Yazzoom uses its AI-based monitoring tool to help businesses optimize their production processes. Yazzoo’s software, namely Yanomaly software that is specifically developed to analyze industrial data, produces valuable information on how to reduce waste, and ensure product quality (amongst many other advantages and improvements).
If you are interested to be part of the vibrant InQbet campus, join us here.
*Joseph Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy, (USA: Harper & Brothers, 1942).
** For more in-detail examples of innovation’s destruction, see The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen (Harvard Business Review Press: Boston, MA, 2016).