New business solutions with the Sustainable Development Goals
The SDG Accelerator is a UNDP programme aiming to accelerate business solutions with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The programme is funded by the Danish Industry Foundation and is tested in Denmark in 2018 and 2019 with 30 Danish small and medium-sized industrial companies, after which the aim is to roll out across the Nordics and globally.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a plan of action for addressing the world's most pressing challenges, and thereby also a framework for sustainable solutions. The private sector is an essential part of these solutions, and more and more companies recognize the SDGs as levers for innovation, growth and better competitive performance. The SDGs also make up a powerful framework for strengthening the companies’ purpose narrative and for attracting talents, customers and investors.
In the SDG Accelerator process, the participating companies will receive guidance and a comprehensive method to develop new products, services or business models that address the challenges embedded in the SDGs. In addition, companies will be assisted in communicating and engaging their employees in their work with the SDGs through internal campaigns and activities. The SDG Accelerator has three overall change objectives:
1. Promote sustainable innovation in Danish small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and develop at least one SDG solution, be it a product, service or business model.
2. Use sustainable innovation as a basis for creating a broader understanding of how companies can work with social and environmental sustainability, both locally and globally.
3. Create a model that can inspire companies outside the programme to get started with integrating the SDGs in their business.
In 2018, the participants in the programme developed several innovative solutions. As a producer of fish food, Aller Aqua has been working on developing an educational app to help Nigerian fish farmers improve their breeding efficiency to the benefit of the environment, food security and growth.
BLUETOWN has, on the side of its solar-powered parabolic masts providing Internet solutions for the unconnected, developed a local cloud solution that can operate in isolated and poor rural areas with an adapted business model. Specializing in ingredients, the company TripleNine wants to utilize mussels for the purification of nitrogen in the sea and subsequently use the mussels as an ingredient in animal feed. Plastix has joined a public-private partnership with new partners to create a new circular model for recycling post-consumer hard plastic, which is currently not recycled in Denmark.
A unique approach to innovation and business development
The SDG Accelerator is unique because the programme combines UNDP's insights into the challenges embedded in the SDGs, with intelligence from carefully selected experts, as well as facilitation and advisory competence from Monitor Deloitte, the implementing partner of the innovation process in Denmark. SDG Accelerator is moreover developed in close collaboration with Nordic frontrunner companies with solid experience in integrating sustainability in innovation, business strategy and communication. In addition, the SDG Accelerator has set up an Advisory Board including, among others, CEO of PensionDanmark, Torben Möger Pedersen, Chairman of the Carlsberg Foundation, Flemming Besenbacher, Acting CEO of IFU, Torben Huss, Chairman of the Board of TV2 and UNLive Online, Jimmy Maymann, CEO of Cradle to Cradle, Annette Hastrup, CEO of Lendager Group, Anders Lendager, and VP of Novo Nordisk, Susanne Stormer.
As part of the programme, the participating companies can expect the following:
Development of new products, services and business models
The companies are part of a 6-months Innovation Journey ranging from fast-tracking ideas with strong SDG and business potential to the identification of new products, services or business models, and lastly the development of prototypes and concrete business plans. The Innovation Journey comprises five phases including three one-on-one meetings with each company and two joint workshops with all the companies, as well as global UN experts, other experts, relevant business partners and investors. The purpose is to ensure the right input for making the business and SDG ideas reality while building the right capabilities with each company.
Employee engagement facilitation
The companies are supported in translating their work with the SDGs into internal communication and activities to strengthen awareness on the SDGs and support employee engagement. Concretely, the participating companies will receive material developed specifically to activate their employees in the SDGs. The material can also be adjusted to fit their specific context.
Communication and inspiration for other companies
Communication is an essential part of the programme. Therefore, progress, results and cases from the SDG Accelerator are shared and communicated through the press and social media as inspiration for other SMEs seeking to innovate and strengthen their businesses by working with the SDGs. To scale the impact, the processes and tools used in the SDG Accelerator will be made publicly available to support other companies in using the SDGs as a lever for innovation and growth.
To join the conversation, follow the hashtag #sdgaccelerator.
Contact: Stine Kirstein Junge, Head of SDG Accelerator, UNDP Nordic Representation Office, [email protected]
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is the leading UN development organization with a presence in more than 170 countries and territories and a comprehensive network of global experts. UNDP works closely with governments and other national partners to eradicate poverty and is a central actor in implementing the SDGs across sectors, industries and markets.