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Where is sustainable innovation coming from? Some new entrants…

Three moments in the last few weeks spurred me to think about this topic:

– Some of the short listed companies we looked at for the upcoming Ethical Corporation awards

– A couple of recent programmes on ‘frugal innovation‘ on BBC radio.

– A dinner on the topic I organised and moderated together with Abbott, a healthcare firm on the topic, which had some superb examples highlighted.

Here are some of the better known examples out there today:

General Electric and their work on portable ECG monitors and healthcare products.

Safaricom / Barclays / Vodafone et. al. and mobile banking.

Grameen / Danone Bangladesh and micro-finance and nutrition-enhanced products.

Unilever, their India Shakti network and various other initiatives.

Marks & Spencer & their support of Sri-Lankan eco-factories, recycled clothing partnership with Oxfam, and many other areas.

Nike, sustainable manufacturing, supplier engagement, and returning products to be re-made and sent back to you

Interface and other companies who lead the way on re-inventing manufacturing.

GlaxoSmithKline and access to medicines.

Skanska and rethinking building refurbishment for greener outcomes (Empire State)

That’s just some of them. I won’t pretend that this is an exhaustive list.

Here are some other organisations below who I think have potential to join this list, all being well in the next few years.

Many of them were awards entrants this year, and the judges and I read them with great interest, looking some of them up for further detail.

These companies are not yet 100% holistic in their overall sustainability approach, (as one might say Unilever, M&S and Nike etc are now heading towards), but are definitely interesting from a commercial sustainability point of view, and are often emerging-markets based:

(In no particular order: This is not another spurious ranking!)

1) Vodafone Turkey
2) Telenor Group Pakistan
3) Vestergaard Frandsen (Africa)
4) Telecom Development Company Afghanistan
5) Compartamos Bancos (Mexico)
6) Tata Global Beverages (India, elsewhere)
7) Danone Poland
8) Anvil Knitwear (USA)
9) Bama (Norway)
10) Itau (Brazil)
11) Marshalls (UK)
12) Desso (Netherlands)
13) Genpact (India, former GE business unit)
14) Natura (Brazil)
15) Woolworths (South Arica)
16) Abbott* (USA and world-wide)
17) Endesa (World-wide but particularly Brazil)
18) Golden Agri Resources (Indonesia)
19) HP Kenya (East African Computer Recycling Company)
20) East Africa Energy (Kenya)

I’ll leave it to interested readers to look up what they are doing.

The smaller firms in the list often publish less. So I’ll aim to make sure that you’ll see these companies covered in Ethical Corporation later in 2012 and 2013.

I’ll be adding to this list and re-blogging it as I find more examples.

You can meet and hear about some of the above examples/companies at the Ethical Corporation awards on June 25 in London.

If readers know of other companies who should be on such a list, or written about in more detail, just let me know.

There are other interesting candidates listed in this report from the World Economic Forum in 2011.

*Disclosure: I worked with Abbott on the abovementioned dinner on a paid basis. But that’s not why I mentioned them in this post

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