More on B2B Collaboration: The UK energy efficiency deal

The debate around competition and collaboration among large companies is finally maturing.

For years, a few executives have pointed out that on big, macro issues such as climate change, collaboration is more important than individual advantage, at least in the early stages of changing systems.

Now we’re starting to see more and more of it. These new collaborations go beyond the models of the last five to ten years, which were often around basic standards, development partnerships or sectoral targets.

Those were all useful steps forward. But they were not really game changers with regard to making an impact on product consumption and consumer environmental impact.

Now energy price hikes and climate change concerns have collided properly, B2B collaboration towards systems change in consumer marketplaces is becoming genuinely interesting.

Back in 2008 I co-ordinated the group that published a report into just how Government could act to drive such collaborations. It was endorsed as policy by our current Prime Minister, but has not been put into action in quite the way we had suggested.

Despite our current Government not quite using its mandate as it could, companies are now seriously starting to step up to the mark, for example in the area of finance for energy efficiency investment in UK residential and business premises.

Here’s an article that lays out some of the initial plans. It’s a little vague on some of the detail, but the intent of the corporate partners seems clear: Collaboration beyond competition, at least for now.

Some of the firms involved include British Gas, Carillion, E.ON, EDF, Kingfisher, Goldman Sachs and HSBC.

Of course there’s a commercial angle here for all these companies. So there should be.

Whether or not this scheme works, the idea of big corporate B2B collaboration on issues where Government can only go so far and where the traditional markets and systems limit change, is finally taking hold.

That is surely something to celebrate.

I’m being briefed on another scheme in the next couple of weeks by a major UK company that has developed a consortium around a particular piece of infrastructure. I’ll report back on that in due course on the blog.

Meanwhile, here is Hannah Jones from Nike on the topic. And here’s a previous post showing some trending interest from readers.

Finally, here’s an older post which mentions another example of B2B collaboration.


  1. Linda

    Definetely better late than never, and hopefully this will be a motivation for more countries and companies to 'tag along'. I guess we will never be able to take away the PR aspect when companies engage in these matters, because it is still business, but at least something good comes out of it and we're better off than if they wouldn't do it. Regardless if the purpose was PR or 'saving the planet'.

  2. @ Linda, I agree. I think the motivations of companies aren't the most important thing here. In much the same way Unilever will market deoderant as smelling good or long lasting to consumers, rather than buying this will help the company grow and be profitable, for sustainability to become mainstream most companies will come on board because it makes business sense to do so, not necessarily to save the future of the human race.

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