Collaboration key to sustainable innovation, says UCA expert

An international conference has seen global experts from Intel, Jaguar Land Rover and Sony come together to discuss ways to create transformational change in the area of sustainability.

Hosted by the University for the Creative Arts (UCA) Epsom and established by UCA’s Centre for Sustainable Design, the Sustainable Innovation 2015 conference inspired an audience of business directors, academics and researchers from all over the world to work collaboratively to save the planet.

“The new global sustainable development goals agreed by the UN in September highlight the need to focus on a range of issues including climate change, resource efficiency, responsible consumption, production and innovation,” said Professor Martin Charter, Director of UCA’s Centre for Sustainable Design and Chair of Sustainable Innovation 2015.

“A clear theme at this year’s Sustainable Innovation conference is that we need to increasingly collaborate with new stakeholder to achieve these goals. Businesses will need to think and work more horizontally with partners across different sectors and disciplines – true collaboration will create many opportunities but has its own challenges that will need to be resolved.

“Innovation and vision are crucial to reaching our target. A few changes in an organisation may make a difference short-term, but individuals need to transform how they think to create disruptive solutions that will require new partnerships.”

Now in its 20th year, Sustainable Innovation is one of the longest standing conferences of its kind in the world. The conference sees business leaders from around the world present on their own areas of expertise within sustainability and panel discussions give delegates the opportunity to ask particular questions and hear practical ways that companies are making a difference.

Speaker Dr Kieren Mayers, Head of Environment and Technology Compliance at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, addressed delegates on the key trends of sustainability within the gaming industry. Working closely on the development of the Playstation 4, Dr Mayers explained that this latest offering is the most successful console ever, and designed to be more sustainable with efficient power supplies and low power modes.

A panel featuring senior business leaders from Marks & Spencer and Jaguar Land Rover saw discussions turn to the evolution of sustainability over the years, and what the reality of sustainability is now. Mike Barry from Marks & Spencer stated that any organisational change needs to be customer centric in order to work and
that organisations need agree a long term commitment to sustainable development that doesn’t change with new leadership.

Panellist Ursula Tischner from econcept in Cologne implored that one solution is to ‘organise your life in a more sustainable way’, giving low cost and low tech examples like a walking bus, where two adults to pick up children and walk them to school in the mornings.

Experts also took part in networking sessions and PechaKucha style presentations, where experts from organisations such as The Knowledge Transfer Network, Ecover and the World Future Council shared 16 thought-providing images, over 5 minutes, and provided inspiring thoughts and ideas.

“Sustainable Innovation 2015 highlighted that social and environmental problems are becoming more and more evident,” said Professor Charter. “There will be growing opportunities for low carbon, resource efficient innovation associated with mass collaboration. If we are to achieve the new sustainable development goals identified by the UN, increased leadership, creativity, collaboration and individual action will be required.”

For more information on Sustainable Innovation 2015, please visit the Twitter hashtag #SusIn15. Next year’s Sustainable Innovation conference will focus on Circular Economy Innovation. More details can be found on

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