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Innovating for Sustainability Forum

Tima Bansal reveals preliminary findings from management researcher Richard Adams on sustainability-oriented innovation and outlines its three stages.

Working Session on Sustainability-Oriented Innovation

“Innovation inevitably requires you to be uncomfortable and have your ideas challenged. It’s very hard to challenge your own ideas,” stated Tima Bansal, NBS Executive Director.

At the Innovating for Sustainability Forum, attended by more than 50 practitioners, Bansal revealed preliminary findings from management researcher Richard Adams on sustainability-oriented innovation.

Bansal introduced the innovation framework developed from 127 academic and industry resources. The framework presents three stages of sustainability innovation: operational, strategic, and transformative.

Sustainability-Oriented Innovation in Practice

Following the research presentation, Bansal moderated a panel discussion with Canadian business leaders who have built innovation into their organizations:

Reconciling the demand of society with sustainability was recognized as a key opportunity to innovate and create sustainable products customers want. Participants identified three key points to capitalize on this opportunity successfully:

  • Differentiate your sustainable product from “greenwashing” by building a relationship with customers and establishing trust and credibility.

  • Collaborate with suppliers and competitors to green the supply chain for products in global demand.

  • Use social responsibility initiatives to inspire innovative solutions for communities you serve.

A Prelimary Framework for Sustainability-Oriented Innovation

Since the forum, NBS released a “Innovating for Sustainability: A Guide for Executives,” outlining the 3-stage innovation framework and highlighting critical research findings for business.



Full results of the research are outlined in the systematic review.

In 2016, Bansal and a team of researchers were awarded new funding to research on innovating for sustainability. “The Innovation Project” will explore how companies can systematically embed sustainability into innovation processes.

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