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


(Jolene Dawson) #101

Wendy, your comment here about individuals wanting to contribute is spot on! Promotion is certainly an element, together with easy and safe avenue to crowd source. I've come across some innovative platforms using blockchain technology to collect bitcoin currency that funds the implementation of solar panels in rural Africa... AND you get to view the progress on a webcam!

Crowd sourcing, especially with the millenials...

Wendy Smith said:

One last point on funder appetite. Informed individuals would invest in innovation being taken to scale. I know this from my own research. Given the chance, everyday donors - households - will invest in what can has shown to be effective. They need to be asked! Maybe this kind of funding needs its own platform - a Kickstarter for innovation, scale and sustainability. With promotion, people WOULD contribute, particularly Americans who think of themselves as individualistic in their giving and want to make informed personal decisions rather than contribute through taxes.



Jolene Dawson said:

Thanks Lisa - some of the challenges we've certainly seen while balancing both commercial and development agenda's in our partnership work is exactly what you mention - funder apetite.

There is often a fair amount of tension to deliver against 'typical' corporate returns in a development setting, while the development agent, just wants to maximise impact - My opinion is partnership brokers need to balance both sides of this and work to have fair commercial returns, but potentially over longer timelines, while the impacts are delivered on the ground.

Dr. Lisa Bonadonna said:

Jolene I concur with many of your points and would add the following:

  • Breaking down the challenge to facilitate creating a manageable innovation pilot at the expense of understanding the social system the behaviour change must be embedded within
  • Funder apetitie for new undertakings relative to funding initiatives often piloted by others that merit being taken to scale
  • Rejecting the role that for profit enterprises can play in addressing social challenges either in the short or long run


Jolene Dawson said:

Barriers to Innovation Scaling:

Commitment to move beyond pilots – most partnerships that have been underway in pilot have proven their impact but have stumbled when it comes to scaling. Partly due to financing and investment constraints, but also due to slow responsiveness and lack of agility to “fail-fast”, internalise the lessons learnt in piloting and recalibrate for success.

Harnessing technologies to leapfrog traditional growth trajectories – companies, especially large corporates, like most people, resist change. Delivering innovation at scale is perceived a little like “Fixing what isn’t broken” For innovation to be embedded and truly scalable, traditional growth, business, operating and deliver models should be questioned – is there a completely new way we could do this? Mobile in Africa hold great promise, if the mobile network operators can (1) provide reliable and consistent signal coverage, (2) provide affordable mechanisms for people to adopt new technologies (especially smart phones) and (3) manage allocation of spectrum, a finite resource for all MNO’s

Making funding models sustainable from the outset – A key barrier to scaling innovations beyond pilots is breaking the poverty cycle by supplementing the aid flows sustainably. Two elements are needed to achieve this (1) a tangible mechanism to source and cultivate revenue streams in pilots from the outset, and grow these in tandem as the pilot grows and matures and (2) think like an entrepreneurs and embed and formalise mechanisms to transfer of skills, capacity and knowledge to the beneficiaries, creating ownership of the outcomes and sustainability of the programme without dependence on outside parties, development agencies or otherwise.

Business not being able to make pilots commercially viable – even at scale. This is partly due to “best-case- scenario” business cases being presented for funding decisions or some vague assumptions caveating the numbers. I believe the cause of this is due to not truly and deeply understanding and proving how the innovation in pilot is solving the real issue faced by the beneficiaries. This, in turn, is an outcome of working in isolation and not taking a systemic, cross-sectoral view on how to address issues. Without deep community knowledge of the issue, often the outcome is not relevant or appropriate to solve the issue that the community faces. Businesses, grantees and governments cannot fund programmes indefinitely, so commercial viability and volume, even with minute margins, must be the
real issue that is solved for in pilots

Government’s ability to address fast-paced changes in demand – the bureaucracy under which they must operate directly impedes their ability to respond timeously and proactively to changes in their communities. We live in a orld now where what is true and real today, is not that tomorrow – governments are scrambling to keep up and must not focus in the short –term, but solve for the issues anticipated in 10-20+ years, building resilience and flexibility into their programmes consistently.

Mismatch between Pilot success factors and actual impact delivered – In my experience with partnerships, often pilot measure their success on factors not aligned to the impact needing to be delivered to solve the real development issue. In theory is does, indirectly, but in reality it is seldom measured as a key outcome. I’d like to see business, governments and development agencies working to measure the impacts and communicate successes along the specific goals of the SDG’s e.g. % poverty reduced, % increase in gender balance in schools, number of lives saved through access to healthcare…

Lack of collaboration and true partnering – over the last 10 years, Accenture Development Partnerships has seen an evolution of Partnerships from:

- isolated philanthropic contributions unrelated to business, to

- opportunistic projects that bring the strength of the partners capabilities, to

- strategic partnerships where development issues are addressed directly with long term focus, to

- shared-value partnerships that have a meaningful source of competitive advantage.

Now, we are seeing more partnerships being set up that are transformational in nature meaning they are setting out to systemically change the status quo and work at the market level, improving enabling environments and setting global standards – it is these transformational partnerships that will drive the market-changing innovations that will push us into new paradigms

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?


(Dan Berelowitz) #102

Hi Mike - SMEs are usually the driving force of any economy so missing them out is definitely a mistake. Often SMEs fall into a 'valley of death' in between financing from friends and family and the banks. An interesting example bridging this and enabling innovation is Grofin who provide critical growth financing in that gap to SMEs in 14 countries across africa and the middle east. We're helping them scale to more countries at the moment and funders like this reaching more SMEs will encourage innovation across whole continents.


Mike Tweed said:

Dear all - thanks for a great discussion. Much of the conversation has been centred around partnerships for social impact between NGOs and large businesses; but from my vantage point in Kenya, much of the buzz at present is about the impact of SMEs (most of whom are innovating constantly, to survive!). Where does the panel feel like the opportunities might be in this area, and how can we unlock innovation through partnerships with SMEs?

Thanks,

Mike


(Kate Wolfenden) #103

Also totally agree on this, but my worries and concerns are based on time. I believe in the partner powered approach (and multiplier effect) but I also worry that the vision starts with action. This isn't always possible in some of the harder / last mile development challenges, but in many, aligning on principles and building the partnership as you go (even if it starts with quite a basic first step) is a powerful trust builder. Its a real chicken and egg. I'd love to pick up another time on examples of how these partnerships unfold and different evidence bases on the best approach to partner power. Thanks for this thread - really interesting :)

Chuck Slaughter said:

I agree, partner-powered integration is the future in supply chains.

Jolene Dawson said:

Kate and Chuck, we have seen many companies looking at moving up- and down-stream in their supply chain trying to create value and increase transparency and traceability for their consumers.

Some businesses decide to integrate their spply chians to take more control, but the more successful approach we've seen is where companies decide to collborate with their suppliers and consumers (or beneficiaries) to ensure they are getting the value hey need - a much more collaborative and partnering approach

Kate Wolfenden said:

Love this thread Jolene and Chuck,

To build on the collaboration comment, a big thing companies can do is democratise access to their supply and value chains in order to create a more inclusive value chain. This is both in developed countries where sustainable innovations can advance sustainability agendas with new business models and step changing technological advancements if given the chance... and indeed fast developing countries where being able to accept a broader range of suppliers into the value chain can give more people a chance.


Chuck Slaughter said:

Great point Jolene. Look at the most successful technology companies in Silicon Valley. Google Microsoft Facebook Twitter etc. Even these innovation engines depend for their ongoing success on acquiring small agile companies who are quicker and nimbler at coming up with the next ‘big thing’.



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?


(Dr. Lisa Bonadonna) #104

Thanks for a great discussion!


(Wendy Smith) #105

Jolene - that is fascinating and would be extremely rewarding to view the progress via webcam! I can even imagine involving college, high school and even elementary ed students raising $ and getting involved. The millenials LOVE contributing and seeing the results of their actions. They are also extremely motivated - being undeterred by the blocks that have made some of us "seniors" cynical. Instead they tend to be full of our-of-the box ideas.


(Nyika Brain) #106

Thanks for the reply Chuck. I agree that we shouldn't be patient when things aren't working. Instead, it's about being nimble and entrepreneurial. If something isn't working, change it and do it quick. But I do think that donors need to move towards taking a longer-term view of impact. As we know, impact isn't just number of people trained, it's that systems change which is harder to measure the impact of in a short time. That was what i was trying to get at :)

Chuck Slaughter said:

I have a slightly contrarian view on time horizons. I think there may be too much patience in the social sector.

The problems in healthcare and education are big and demand urgency in our work. Look at the “impact investing” space. I’d argue one reason few impact investments have really scaled is that the investors are too patient and the social businesses they fund are too patient. In the venture capital world if a company is not making progress investors pull the plug and move onto the next thing. That’s how capital and capacity is most efficiently deployed.



Nyika Brain said:

I completely agree with the point about time horizons. Corporates and donors need to take a much longer-term view when it comes to impact (be it social or commercial), especially when looking at market system based approaches to development and scaling sustainable innovations. We need more great examples of long-term programmes and partnerships. But what is best practice in terms of time horizon? 5-10 years? Would love to hear people's thoughts.


Jolene Dawson said:

Thanks Lisa - some of the challenges we've certainly seen while balancing both commercial and development agenda's in our partnership work is exactly what you mention - funder apetite.

There is often a fair amount of tension to deliver against 'typical' corporate returns in a development setting, while the development agent, just wants to maximise impact - My opinion is partnership brokers need to balance both sides of this and work to have fair commercial returns, but potentially over longer timelines, while the impacts are delivered on the ground.

Dr. Lisa Bonadonna said:

Jolene I concur with many of your points and would add the following:

  • Breaking down the challenge to facilitate creating a manageable innovation pilot at the expense of understanding the social system the behaviour change must be embedded within
  • Funder apetitie for new undertakings relative to funding initiatives often piloted by others that merit being taken to scale
  • Rejecting the role that for profit enterprises can play in addressing social challenges either in the short or long run


Jolene Dawson said:

Barriers to Innovation Scaling:

Commitment to move beyond pilots – most partnerships that have been underway in pilot have proven their impact but have stumbled when it comes to scaling. Partly due to financing and investment constraints, but also due to slow responsiveness and lack of agility to “fail-fast”, internalise the lessons learnt in piloting and recalibrate for success.

Harnessing technologies to leapfrog traditional growth trajectories – companies, especially large corporates, like most people, resist change. Delivering innovation at scale is perceived a little like “Fixing what isn’t broken” For innovation to be embedded and truly scalable, traditional growth, business, operating and deliver models should be questioned – is there a completely new way we could do this? Mobile in Africa hold great promise, if the mobile network operators can (1) provide reliable and consistent signal coverage, (2) provide affordable mechanisms for people to adopt new technologies (especially smart phones) and (3) manage allocation of spectrum, a finite resource for all MNO’s

Making funding models sustainable from the outset – A key barrier to scaling innovations beyond pilots is breaking the poverty cycle by supplementing the aid flows sustainably. Two elements are needed to achieve this (1) a tangible mechanism to source and cultivate revenue streams in pilots from the outset, and grow these in tandem as the pilot grows and matures and (2) think like an entrepreneurs and embed and formalise mechanisms to transfer of skills, capacity and knowledge to the beneficiaries, creating ownership of the outcomes and sustainability of the programme without dependence on outside parties, development agencies or otherwise.

Business not being able to make pilots commercially viable – even at scale. This is partly due to “best-case- scenario” business cases being presented for funding decisions or some vague assumptions caveating the numbers. I believe the cause of this is due to not truly and deeply understanding and proving how the innovation in pilot is solving the real issue faced by the beneficiaries. This, in turn, is an outcome of working in isolation and not taking a systemic, cross-sectoral view on how to address issues. Without deep community knowledge of the issue, often the outcome is not relevant or appropriate to solve the issue that the community faces. Businesses, grantees and governments cannot fund programmes indefinitely, so commercial viability and volume, even with minute margins, must be the
real issue that is solved for in pilots

Government’s ability to address fast-paced changes in demand – the bureaucracy under which they must operate directly impedes their ability to respond timeously and proactively to changes in their communities. We live in a orld now where what is true and real today, is not that tomorrow – governments are scrambling to keep up and must not focus in the short –term, but solve for the issues anticipated in 10-20+ years, building resilience and flexibility into their programmes consistently.

Mismatch between Pilot success factors and actual impact delivered – In my experience with partnerships, often pilot measure their success on factors not aligned to the impact needing to be delivered to solve the real development issue. In theory is does, indirectly, but in reality it is seldom measured as a key outcome. I’d like to see business, governments and development agencies working to measure the impacts and communicate successes along the specific goals of the SDG’s e.g. % poverty reduced, % increase in gender balance in schools, number of lives saved through access to healthcare…

Lack of collaboration and true partnering – over the last 10 years, Accenture Development Partnerships has seen an evolution of Partnerships from:

- isolated philanthropic contributions unrelated to business, to

- opportunistic projects that bring the strength of the partners capabilities, to

- strategic partnerships where development issues are addressed directly with long term focus, to

- shared-value partnerships that have a meaningful source of competitive advantage.

Now, we are seeing more partnerships being set up that are transformational in nature meaning they are setting out to systemically change the status quo and work at the market level, improving enabling environments and setting global standards – it is these transformational partnerships that will drive the market-changing innovations that will push us into new paradigms

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) #107

One more example to add to the mix : we need to think beyond the walls of one’s own laboratories when it comes to research and development. Development partnerships with NGOs, academics etc are a way of sharing cost and risk – particularly important when researching areas with tough scientific and economic hurdles.

Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

Thank you for sharing your insights! Let's move onto the third and final set of questions:

What principles and processes do partnerships between business and the development community need in place to help drive innovation? What are some good examples and what can we learn from them?


(Priya Madina) #108

Thanks to BFP and to all fellow panellists - really enjoyed the rich and stimulating discussion - a lot of food for thought!

Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

That brings us to the end of our live segment. Thank you so much to our panel and to our audience for joining us.

We will leave this discussion open, so please do feel free to continue to post your comments.

This discussion took place as part of our Shared Value Partnerships Challenge with GSK and Save the Children. If you'd like to learn more about this topic, check out these articles:

Darian Stibbe: From Transactional to Transformational to Systemic Collaboration

Jane Nelson: Four Reasons Why GSK and Save the Children’s Partnership Stands Out

Lord Nigel Crisp: Save the Children & GSK Partnership Points way for Cross-sect...

Lisa Bonadonna and Natasha Parker: To Help Save Children’s Lives, We Need to Be Bold

Ali Forder: Why We Are Working to Increase Supply and Demand for Healthcare i...


(Jolene Dawson) #109

Mike, I've seen a great example where SME's are brought into incubators and accelerators. The funder of the innovation hub can decide to take a small (10%) equity share and buy the products/services of the SME and on-sell it to their customers, but still allows the SME to sell to all other interested parties.

After the accelerators, the SME's will have had the opportunity to scale with additional funding and more sustainable revenues through stronger sales pipelines they have the option to (1) sell, so the accelerator funder owns the SME outright (f they prefer the start-up 'vibe') or (2) can exit and springboard onto bigger things having grown in the process, if they prefer to become more stable as a medium enterprise..

SME's are significantly more agile than big business - so they will innovate to survive. Kenya is a great example of innovation hubs with all the investment in ICT and technology, with localisation requirements - this ensure that the knowledge is kept local even if funding is not.

FinTech's are likely the fastest moving and most in-demand SME's at present.

Mike Tweed said:

Dear all - thanks for a great discussion. Much of the conversation has been centred around partnerships for social impact between NGOs and large businesses; but from my vantage point in Kenya, much of the buzz at present is about the impact of SMEs (most of whom are innovating constantly, to survive!). Where does the panel feel like the opportunities might be in this area, and how can we unlock innovation through partnerships with SMEs?

Thanks,

Mike


(Wendy Smith) #110

One of my favorite examples of mastering the entire pathway from innovation, to marketing, to community involvement to last mile distribution is Kickstart International - innovators of the treadle water irrigation pump and its distribution to the poorest farmers in the most remote areas. Their model is extremely well proven thanks to their own dedication to outcomes measurement. www.kickstart.org


(Ashok Seth) #111

But, are these models mutually exclusive? It seems to me that market creation will need, in time, to be sustained and made more efficient to contribute to achievement of SDGs.

Jolene Dawson said:

The private sector recognizing innovation in new digital technologies and business models as a critical requirement to achieving the SDGs. In the Accenture UNGC CEO Study, 1,000 CEOs were surveyed and 97% reported that they believe sustainability is important to the future success of their business, with 75 percent of CEOs saying that digital technologies enable more sustainable business models.

The way business and development is currently run is focused on a linear models (Input –> Process –> Output). In the new digital world we find ourselves in, business models, funding models and indeed operating and delivery models are all being influenced to be more collaborative, with multiple inputs, processes and outputs all running simultaneously. These new circular and collaborative models increase the speed and complexity of the work being done, but also have major potential to increase impact. Innovation is the key to enabling the business and development communities to work together in a highly fluid environment to achieve the anticipated outcomes of the SDG’s by 2030.

Innovation comes in different forms, but the innovations that are remembered over time are those that are most disruptive. According to Clay Christensen and his work in the Harvard Business Review, “Disruptive Innovation” there are 3 type so of Innovation:

- Efficiency Innovation: that makes more product/service with less input, these innovations erode jobs, but frees up capital for growth

- Sustaining Innovations: that make good products better through new features, these innovations maintain both jobs and margins

- Market Creating Innovations: that create growth and jobs through creating new markets and new products/services

In my opinion, it is these Market Creating innovations that are most important to the delivery of the SDG’s and driving their intended outcomes as they are the most disruptive – these are the innovations that shift paradigms and bring about new ways of working and thinking. Efficiency and sustaining innovations will also contribute, but in smaller measure and more incrementally.



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?


(Wendy Smith) #112

Market creation naturally becomes self-sustaining if the services/products meet the needs of locals.