Small businesses and consumer collaboration to create new products and services that tackle climate change and create sustainable growth
Many of the innovative solutions to climate change start life in the small business sector. However many more fall by the wayside because small businesses do not have access to the knowledge and resourcing to bring their ideas into fruition.
This proposal aims to tackle two of the main challenges facing small businesses when they try to develop innovative new products and services that will tackle climate change and lead to sustainable growth or redesign their existing products, services and processes:
- A lack of opportunities to share and develop their ideas with like-minded, businesses who could potentially partner them, and
- A lack of knowledge and opportunities to engage potential customers and consumers in design, development and implementation.
The proposal is that 'In Business for Good', a digital network that supports small businesses develop socially responsible initiatives, will set up a co-creation network bringing together small businesses that want to develop products and services to tackle climate change and create sustainable growth; consumers with ideas or interest in creating such products and services; and experts in climate change and sustainable growth business support and finance.
The co-creation network will initially be drawn from the @inbiz4good network and facilitated by @inbiz4good, who have experience in running successful international virtual summits and webinars for small businesses. It will grow through referral and social media activity. The co-creation network will work together virtually with one or two face-to-face meetings a year. The first activity will be to identify potential projects for development and then for the network to choose the three or four they wish to work on. Projects will use online collaboration tools to help businesses, consumers and experts work together to design, develop and implement new products and services.Learning will be shared across the projects and more widely.
- Lack of financial and expert resources
What actions do you propose?
The network will focus on bringing to market 3 to 4 innovative products and services per cycle. As the network grows, more products and services will be in development. The learning from the co-creation network will be shared widely among the small business sector to influence the development of other products and services.
Who will take these actions?
The key actors will be small business owners prepared to develop products and services to tackle climate change and create sustainable growth; consumers interested in working on the development of such products and services; and experts with an interest in small businesses developing such products and services. Their role would be to work together on the development products and services that small businesses can bring to market knowing that there is a demand for them.
Previous @inbiz4good initiatives have been supported by government, business organisations and research institutions and we would want to involve them in this initiative. Their role would be to offer advice on potential developments, where appropriate to signpost additional support and to consider how to incentivise small business innovation in this area.
Over time, we would want to expand the network so that any small business or consumer could seek advice or input new ideas.
Where will these actions be taken?
The existing @inbiz4good network is active in Europe, North America, parts of Asia particularly India, and parts of Africa. We would seek small business collaboration across those countries with the intention of extending the initiative into developing countries.
How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?
This is difficult to calculate but, for example, @inbiz4good summit promoted a UK based printer who now has zero waste including food and water management from innovative approaches to printing and the use of innovative technology.
What are other key benefits?
As well as the development of innovative products and services, the network brings together small businesses and consumers in a new partnership. We believe that the benefits of this will go beyond the business itself and lead to innovation in community support and engagement.
What are the proposal’s costs?
The network will cost £5000 per year to support this collaborative activity. Small businesses will pool together to meet product development costs, potentially £1million per year. Some projects are likely to fail but the close involvement of consumers and experts will reduce this risk considerably.
Short-term actions - establishing the co-creation network, identifying 3 to 4 projects per year to be developed develop and bringing those projects to market.
Medium-term actions - the embedding the co-creation approach to product and service development within small businesses and for environmental projects.
Longer term actions - greater involvement in, in partnership with, small businesses by citizens and communities.
Small Businesses the sustainable highway to growth is a wider awareness raising and action initiative through which the learning from this proposal could be spread.