How can we unlock and scale innovation through partnerships to achieve the SDGs?


(Devyani Parameshwar) #21

Innovation is key to achieving the SDGs. Current cost structures and delivery models will not ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable energy for all, or availability of water and sanitation for all, for example.

The SDGs provide the impetus for companies, governments, academia, NGOs, donors and a range of other players to rally around specific causes with some urgency. It creates the risk and investment appetite needed for innovation.

Innovation can come from any sector, and I’m inclined to say we shouldn’t type-cast sectors to limit innovation to any one sector. That said, the Government’s ability to create an enabling regulatory framework to allow the private sector and the development community to operate at scale is important.



Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

Let's kick off with our first set of questions:

What role will innovation play in achieving the SDGs? How can the SDGs help build and strengthen the ecosystem for innovation? What roles can different sectors best play?


(Morel Naim) #22

Thanks this Jolene, is this report available online?

Jolene Dawson said:

The SDG’s need to be delivered through partnerships to achieve scale and systemic impact. The MDG’s were a concentrated group of objectives that could be delivered in isolation. The SDG’s however, require business, governments and development agents to work together to achieve them, and impact delivered on one focussed SDG will have knock-on effects across several other SDG’s. For example, work cannot be done on improving SDG 3 - good health and well-being, without also influencing SDG 1 - no poverty, SDG 2 - zero hunger, 6 - clean water and sanitation, SDG 8 - decent work and economic growth, SDG 12 – responsible consumption and production and others.

For me, the most critical SDG is SDG17 - Partnerships for the Goals – as this is the core enabler of ecosystem strengthening. When focussing on how business can leverage innovation to deliver the SDG’s the Accenture UNGC CEO study 2016 highlights that

- 90% of business feel a personal responsibility to ensure their business has a clear purpose and roles in society,

- 87% believe that the SDG’s provide an opportunity to rethink approaches,

- 78% already see opportunities to contribute to the SDG’s through their business, and

49% of the CEO’s believe that business is the most important actor in delivering the SDG’s – a clear shift from previous thinking where general sentiment was governments must drive the MDG’s.


(Dr. Lisa Bonadonna) #23

As I see it, the public sector is well placed to articulate the needs and priorities of citizens, and create an environment for these to be met. The social sector is well placed to support those most in need, providing them with a voice as well as interventions, and the private sector , in an enabled and welcoming environment, is well placed to provide sustainable and scaled solutions.


(Jolene Dawson) #24

It is important that partnerships between business, government and development sector are able to achieve shared value through multi-dimensional impact - economic, social, and environmental – and innovative digital solutions will enable them to do that. A few examples:

- 1.6 billion people could benefit from more accessible, affordable and better quality medical services through e-healthcare, while connected road vehicle solutions could save up to 720,000 lives annually and prevent up to 30 million traffic injuries (SDG#3 – Good Health and Well Being)

- ICT sector companies could gain USD 2.1 trillion in additional annual revenue by 2030 from services that directly contribute to SDG achievement, which includes USD 400 billion per year from connecting 2.5 billion people by 2030. Moreover, USD 1.7 trillion could be realized from digital services such as e-Commerce, e-Work, smart buildings, e-Government, and online learning.

- Digital solutions like the Internet of Things and robotics can help bring economic benefits of up to USD 1 trillion by supporting industries such as smart manufacturing and smart logistics (SDG#9 – Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure)

- Digital solutions could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and drive market transformation for renewables, cutting carbon emissions by around 20 percent in 2030 (SDG#13 – Climate Action)



Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

Let's kick off with our first set of questions:

What role will innovation play in achieving the SDGs? How can the SDGs help build and strengthen the ecosystem for innovation? What roles can different sectors best play?


(Kate Wolfenden) #25


Hi Priya,

Love this and to build upon your roles - on top of every sector being able to play a role I think there is also an interesting piece around the cross cutting roles. Ie.

Research - could push for greater integration and application to live private sector environments and indeed hear and heed the voice of the different stages of investment (seed, venture, institutional) that will get these new solutions to scale, so that the foundational research is speaking in a common syntax from day one.

Priya Madina said:

Innovation has a central role to play in meeting the SDGs and we need to think more creatively and flexibly now we have a wide-ranging agenda covering such broad range of issues. New creative solutions and partnerships help unlock potential and deliver more – one size fits all solutions won’t work. We will need new tools and interventions if we are to meet the SDGs by 2030 and we need innovative ways of utilising existing interventions.

The SDGs give us a new framework to structure our innovation and work cross-sectorally to deliver on it and encourage us to make the connections and synergies across the Goals.

Each sector can bring different advantages to the process and we all must start thinking outside the box in terms of the way they operate – business as usual will not achieve the SDGs. Most will choose to focus on the Goals that can best be met through services provided by their area of expertise. GSK concentrates on Goal 3, relating to healthcare which is our area of expertise. In terms of achieving UHC, all sectors have a role to play – from a healthcare perspective we are focused on better access to healthcare but clearly education and nutritional needs are also important factors in leading to a healthier population.


(Dan Berelowitz) #26

Absolutely Kate, new ideas are one thing, if we can't get what is already working to scale we are going to miss the targets as we did with so many of the MDGs

Kate Wolfenden said:

I think what is really interesting about the innovation is that is an overused word, so knowing exactly what we mean by that is a challenge by itself.

Marcela and I deeply believe that many of the solutions to some of industries (and therefore the world) grandest challenges already exist today they are just not scaling at the rate and the pace that they need to.

So I would challenge that the role innovation could play in achieving the SDGs is not just creating the innovations but providing the enabling conditions to accelerate / commercialise them.



Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

Let's kick off with our first set of questions:

What role will innovation play in achieving the SDGs? How can the SDGs help build and strengthen the ecosystem for innovation? What roles can different sectors best play?


(Priya Madina) #27

Entirely agree, Carey - we can't be innovative if we just keep doing what we've always done. And unlocking SDG 17 on Partnerships is clearly the key to achieving this.

Carey Carpenter said:

Innovation is an essential ingredient for achieving the SDGs. The fact that deeply entrenched social issues have persisted beyond the MDG era is itself a sign that there is a need for new, fresh ideas that bring together the very best of the non-profit, for-profit, government, and social sectors. The more we can leverage skills and capabilities across sectors and find innovative ways to work together, the better equipped we will be to achieve the SDGs.

Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

Let's kick off with our first set of questions:

What role will innovation play in achieving the SDGs? How can the SDGs help build and strengthen the ecosystem for innovation? What roles can different sectors best play?


(Chuck Slaughter) #28


Lisa, at Living Goods we could not possibly agree more. That’s why partnerships are core to our founding vision. Living goods aims to reduce child mortality on a landscape scale. We can never do that alone. That’s why we’re proud to partner with three of the worlds largest NGOs to replicate our model: BRAC, PSI and importantly CARE – via the CARE-GSK Barclays partnership.

Dr. Lisa Bonadonna said:

If we keep doing the same things then we will keep getting the same results. Improving on current practices will undoubtedly lead to incremental improvements but transformational change needed to acheive the SDGs can't happen without innovation.SDG 17 in particular underscores the importance of partnership, recognising that no single individual, organisation or sector has the answer, and indeed taken collectively, one can see that the SDGs themselves are not discrete challenges but are in fact all interconnected.


(Nyika Brain) #29

I completely agree. The SDGs can not be looked at in isolation, and a cross-sectoral approach needs to be taken (building on the specific skills and expertise of those sectors). Innovation can be seen as thinking about development in a different way, and taking a more holistic approach.

Dr. Lisa Bonadonna said:

If we keep doing the same things then we will keep getting the same results. Improving on current practices will undoubtedly lead to incremental improvements but transformational change needed to acheive the SDGs can't happen without innovation.SDG 17 in particular underscores the importance of partnership, recognising that no single individual, organisation or sector has the answer, and indeed taken collectively, one can see that the SDGs themselves are not discrete challenges but are in fact all interconnected.


(Simon Wright) #30

IMHO, business first and foremost are drivers of economic development, something all the SDGs depend on. Investing more in low-income countries, employing more people on fair wages, investing profits back in the country are the top priority. Paying taxes so that investment in public services is the main way of redistributing wealth and sharing more fairly. To do this, business may have to think differently, about investing in products that are needed in these countries and a much longer return on investment.


(Kate Wolfenden) #31

Thanks Dan, totally agree. Especially like the franchise approach to scale to work towards the democratisation of scaling too. You have some great work to do.


Dan Berelowitz said:

Absolutely Kate, new ideas are one thing, if we can't get what is already working to scale we are going to miss the targets as we did with so many of the MDGs

Kate Wolfenden said:

I think what is really interesting about the innovation is that is an overused word, so knowing exactly what we mean by that is a challenge by itself.

Marcela and I deeply believe that many of the solutions to some of industries (and therefore the world) grandest challenges already exist today they are just not scaling at the rate and the pace that they need to.

So I would challenge that the role innovation could play in achieving the SDGs is not just creating the innovations but providing the enabling conditions to accelerate / commercialise them.



Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

Let's kick off with our first set of questions:

What role will innovation play in achieving the SDGs? How can the SDGs help build and strengthen the ecosystem for innovation? What roles can different sectors best play?


(Devyani Parameshwar) #32

Very interesting results, and I think reflective of the growing role of the private sector.

Jolene Dawson said:

The SDG’s need to be delivered through partnerships to achieve scale and systemic impact. The MDG’s were a concentrated group of objectives that could be delivered in isolation. The SDG’s however, require business, governments and development agents to work together to achieve them, and impact delivered on one focussed SDG will have knock-on effects across several other SDG’s. For example, work cannot be done on improving SDG 3 - good health and well-being, without also influencing SDG 1 - no poverty, SDG 2 - zero hunger, 6 - clean water and sanitation, SDG 8 - decent work and economic growth, SDG 12 – responsible consumption and production and others.

For me, the most critical SDG is SDG17 - Partnerships for the Goals – as this is the core enabler of ecosystem strengthening. When focussing on how business can leverage innovation to deliver the SDG’s the Accenture UNGC CEO study 2016 highlights that

- 90% of business feel a personal responsibility to ensure their business has a clear purpose and roles in society,

- 87% believe that the SDG’s provide an opportunity to rethink approaches,

- 78% already see opportunities to contribute to the SDG’s through their business, and

49% of the CEO’s believe that business is the most important actor in delivering the SDG’s – a clear shift from previous thinking where general sentiment was governments must drive the MDG’s.


(Jolene Dawson) #33

Business: Large corporates, although many are appointing Chief Innovation Officers, find it challenging to structure innovation into business. Medium and small enterprise are more agile and better at a harnessing innovation.

Business’ role in delivering innovation and helping achieve the SDG’s lies in collaborating with SMME’s, governments and the development sector, in partnerships, to bring innovation to the areas that need in and scale these at pace. To do this, business needs to:

- Align their business vision, mission and goals with the SDG’s relevant to their industry and business

- Allocate investment to drive no only short-term profits, but long-term sustainability of their business and indeed the communities and environments in which they operate

- Lobby government to put in place regulations that allow SMME’s to flourish and cross-sector partnerships to be successful

- work with the development sector, not only by providing funding, but also by building capacity and leveraging their assets and capabilities to make programmes successful

- Set up innovation hubs that incorporate accelerators, incubators, mentorship programmes and invest, either by building or buying from SMME’s to identify and scale market-changing innovations



Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

Let's kick off with our first set of questions:

What role will innovation play in achieving the SDGs? How can the SDGs help build and strengthen the ecosystem for innovation? What roles can different sectors best play?


(Zahid Torres-Rahman) #34

Great contributions! Let's move onto our second set of questions:

What are some of the key drivers and barriers to innovations reaching scale sustainably and what are the essential enabling conditions required for success?


(Jolene Dawson) #35

Drivers of Innovation Scaling:

- Shifts in demand: India and china will make up 30% of the world population and Africa making up another 15%. Right now, about half the world live in cities, by 2050, this number increases to 2/3 – we need to find more efficient ways of living in cities and managing the inputs and outputs of these centres. Ideas like circular economies, driving “waste” from one process as and “input” into another, extracting value at every stage

- Dual demographic bulge and rising inequality: Today, 12% of the population is over 60 years old. This grows to 20% by 2050. In Europe, the median age will be 46, while in least developed countries, this number is only 26 – the disparity in age, also impedes the LDC’s ability to accumulate wealth as – further innovations in mobile money and economic inclusion become key here in leapfrogging traditional development trajectories

- The rise of the informed consumer: 72% of consumers feel that businesses are failing to meet transparency expectations. 83% of executives feel that transparency of products is affecting behaviours. Innovations like digital supply chain monitoring and reporting could go some way to alleviating this – the applications are massive for the medical cold- and supply chains transparency, especially with last mile distribution challenges in remote rural settings.

- Expectations for digital responsibility: 44% of consumers are wary about information they share online. 9 in10 internet users would avoid businesses that do not protect privacy. Right now, we all live in the context where multiple entities hold our personal data and we trust that the organisation to protect it. Right now, these entities can monetise our personal information. With the advent of Blockchain technologies, the right of individuals to own, control and monetise your own identity is fast-becoming a reality. The expectation is that any entity must be able protect data and privacy of its user. Failing to protect your beneficiates or customers is almost instantly ‘fatal’ to businesses

Natural resource complexity: 2.5 billion consumers will join the middle class by 2030 – to meet the needs of this at current consumption rates, 3 planets will be needed to meet demand. Unprecedented innovation is needed in driving efficiency, reducing waste and maximise value extraction at every opportunity. This especially true for cities and meeting the needs in a sustainable way, while addressing inequality of access – to education, to medical support, to services, to information and everything else. It is my opinion that the drive for circular economy is only an efficiency innovation – we need to find that market-changing innovation to address this driver of innovation

Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

Great contributions! Let's move onto our second set of questions:

What are some of the key drivers and barriers to innovations reaching scale sustainably and what are the essential enabling conditions required for success?


(Jolene Dawson) #36

Agree, Carey! Innovation is key, but so is cross-sector collaboration - much like you are doing with Care, Barclays and GSK....

More partnerships need to be delivered like this across the developing world to systemically address the SDG's goals

Carey Carpenter said:

Innovation is an essential ingredient for achieving the SDGs. The fact that deeply entrenched social issues have persisted beyond the MDG era is itself a sign that there is a need for new, fresh ideas that bring together the very best of the non-profit, for-profit, government, and social sectors. The more we can leverage skills and capabilities across sectors and find innovative ways to work together, the better equipped we will be to achieve the SDGs.

Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

Let's kick off with our first set of questions:

What role will innovation play in achieving the SDGs? How can the SDGs help build and strengthen the ecosystem for innovation? What roles can different sectors best play?


(Chuck Slaughter) #37

What’s really cool is that some of the most powerful innovations that reach scale in society are the product of collaboration between the public, private, and social sectors. For example some of the most important innovations in pharmaceuticals started with investments from the National Institutes of Health. It took innovative NGOs working in Asia and South America incubate and innovate the micro finance movement.


(Dan Berelowitz) #38

In our work with GSK over the last 4 years, and in providing hands on support to the winners of the GSK/Save the Children Health Innovation Award winners this year we have had to spend significant time considering these important questions. There are many drivers but to summarise the ones we see as most important from an internal organisational perspective (thanks for v interesting list from Jolene on the external):

  1. Strategy for scale and sustainability: Is there an ambitious yet realistic strategy in place with a leadership team that has the skills and knowledge to implement it?
  2. Systems for scale: Innovation requires entrepreneurialism, scale requires systems. Do organisations have all the systems and process in place they need to deliver repeat quality?
  3. Finding for core: What is the core of a programme that drives the social impact so that this core then becomes non-negotiable as a programme scales up to ensure quality is maintained?



Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

Great contributions! Let's move onto our second set of questions:

What are some of the key drivers and barriers to innovations reaching scale sustainably and what are the essential enabling conditions required for success?


(Priya Madina) #39

My starter for 10:

Drivers: 2 things: 1. Simple, cheap ideas that can be replicated easily and globally; 2. Clear consensus on priorities for the most pressing unmet needs.

Barriers: Lack of clear objectives, deliverables and goals coupled with a lack of focus can be crippling. In the health field there has not been enough research into how health systems operate and how best to introduce new interventions in resource-poor situations. Rather than developing countries replicating developed world approaches, we need a quantum leap in the way health systems operate, like we have seen in the use of Health initiatives. This will not occur without more and better health systems research.

Essential enabling conditions: We need firstly the right operating environment for cross-sectoral dialogue to take place; secondly a practical, evidence-based environment that seeks to achieve both innovation and access; thirdly, flexible approaches – one size fits all solutions won’t work; and finally, the right partners to tackle the issues.


(Nyika Brain) #40

I agree Jolene that large corporates are not the most fleet of foot when it comes to innovation. But building on your point 4, I do think there is value in 'intrapreneurship' - creating an environment to allow innovation to foster within business which may in turn go some way to addressing global challenges. But again, this is done best through partnerships.

Jolene Dawson said:

Business: Large corporates, although many are appointing Chief Innovation Officers, find it challenging to structure innovation into business. Medium and small enterprise are more agile and better at a harnessing innovation.

Business’ role in delivering innovation and helping achieve the SDG’s lies in collaborating with SMME’s, governments and the development sector, in partnerships, to bring innovation to the areas that need in and scale these at pace. To do this, business needs to:

- Align their business vision, mission and goals with the SDG’s relevant to their industry and business

- Allocate investment to drive no only short-term profits, but long-term sustainability of their business and indeed the communities and environments in which they operate

- Lobby government to put in place regulations that allow SMME’s to flourish and cross-sector partnerships to be successful

- work with the development sector, not only by providing funding, but also by building capacity and leveraging their assets and capabilities to make programmes successful

- Set up innovation hubs that incorporate accelerators, incubators, mentorship programmes and invest, either by building or buying from SMME’s to identify and scale market-changing innovations



Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

Let's kick off with our first set of questions:

What role will innovation play in achieving the SDGs? How can the SDGs help build and strengthen the ecosystem for innovation? What roles can different sectors best play?