thestoryofmeaningfuluse

A Magazine Capturing the Story of Health- For People, Environment, Economy & Habitat

Archive for September, 2011

WEeditorial – Global Clean Tech Challenge

Clean Tech and Innovation – An Issue of Scale

by Jochen Kleef

@jochenkleef51515151515151

Hong Kong

Let’s start with a definition “Clean technology includes recycling, renewable energy (wind power, solar power, biomass, hydropower, biofuels), information technology, green transportation, electric motors, green chemistry, lighting, greywater, and many other appliances that are now more energy efficient. It is a means to create electricity and fuels, with a smaller environmental footprint and minimize pollution.”

Having listened to numerous presentations, talks and discussions around clean tech, innovation and what society needs to address the world’s problems in the future such as water shortage, energy generation, food supply and a global population of 9.0bn people, there is a serious need for innovation. Innovation of cleaner technologies as outlined by Wikipedia is what is called for and on a big scale.
However, the challenges for these clean technologies are many ranging from simply the human resistance to change or accepting new approaches, engineering as well as technical hurdles and the running of a business professionally with commercial success.

Three Exemplary challenges

Looking at the first challenge of driving change, this has improved over the last three decades not the least because of the Internet which made environmental issues and the need for a more sustainable life style much more known.

Twenty years back and without the Internet, there was not the scale of common knowledge or the rising awareness that something needed to change. This I guess is underway and will probably accelerate to gain more scale.

Secondly, the technical issues seem to be well taken care of as the inventiveness of people who take the sustainability challenges serious deserves applauding. There are many bright, talented and experienced people who are coming up with promising approaches and solutions to today’s and tomorrow’s needs of society.

A lot of interesting ideas have been developed to prototype stage and are at various levels of readiness for commercialization. Successful examples are showing the way such as China’s solar sector or companies such as Atlantis Resources Corporation and its tidal energy technology

The main issue surrounding these ventures is one of business approach and commercial success. There are two routes that seem to be shaping up.
One is for these clean tech start-ups to apply and hopefully get accepted into the so called incubation programs of big global players who are market leaders in a particular environmental sector.

This is a very promising approach as the start-ups join a network of specialists in their fields and get financial backing to take them to the next level of scale in their aim to commercialization.

The argument however is whether the motivation of these multinationals is actually as humble as it seems. There’s a school of thought that thinks big organisations and innovation – or to use a more general term: change – do not necessarily go together that well. So the idea of the big organisations to simply innovate by attracting smaller, cutting edge innovation technologies and to potentially incorporate them as a profit center after an extensive due diligence during the incubation programme is one that can work to mutual benefit if the entrepreneurs are eying for a buy-out.

Third, there’s another train of thought though that hints to the buying-out of inconvenient innovation to ensure a particular corporate business model  or a certain product stays in business and the innovation disappears into a drawer.

Which leaves us with the organic growth path from inception via R&D to prototype stage and then through various investment rounds to full commercialisation. This is a very honourable and the most controllable but yet hard way of developing a clean tech business and therefore ultimately innovate.

The major challenge is one of obtaining funds be it at seed or angel stage or later on VC money and ultimately listing. The disconnect between the entrepreneurial clean tech community on the one and the investor community on the other side seems to be what is hampering innovation.

There seems to be a lack of common understanding and probably even language (technical vs. financial, let alone cross boarder) on a large scale as clearly a need for more innovative technologies in a larger variety exists.

Scale and innovation

Since setting up our consulting business, we have been in contact with a significant number of clean tech companies that were either looking to enter into the Asian markets or for funding or both. This is good news as it means there is innovation and the innovative businesses want to be close to potential markets which makes commercial sense. The Asian markets are appealing because this is where growth is happening now – and for the foreseeable future maybe with the exception of Germany given recent performance – but there is an issue.

In general, small clean tech firms from the US or Europe do not know how to do business in Asia unless one of the founders or investors has Asia experience. It is difficult enough to innovate in one’s home territory as “to innovate” at the very heart means leaving the conventional for something new and ultimately change. But to do this in a completely new cultural environment with all its unknown protocols and behaviours, potentially at first with people whom one has not met in person but only virtually to start with is adding yet another dimension of the challenge.


The Question

The key question is whether this “long distance innovation” is actually feasible and a recipe for success or does it prolong the time these small clean tech firms take to grow? Would it perhaps be better to focus one’s efforts in one’s local community / economy and once the business model is proven with revenues to back this up prior to stepping out of your back garden? Or are economic – and investment funding – circumstance such that clean tech firms outside of Asia will fail if they don’t tap into the Far East’s momentum and economic growth potential?

That leaves another question open: Is there enough clean tech innovation happening in Asia or do the growing and developing countries indeed need input, IPR and experience from the more mature economies to maximize a combination between innovation and commercial success?

———–

Author’s Bio:

Jochen Kleef, Chairman of Ecopoint LTD. is an environmental services company that provides an Internet platform for the environmental business community throughout Asia.  He is also the founder and chief executive officer of Kleef and Co, a strategy and management consulting firm specialising in sustainable business.

Publisher’s Letter – Introducing TSOMU Fall Issue – 2011

Letter from the Publisher

Lavinia Weissman

Boulder, Co

@wecarehealth5959595959595959595959

Our next series of articles will focus on “accelerated change.”

9/11 – 10 years later – represents an unfortunate trend in human behavior that occurs immediately after a natural disaster or catastrophe of massive harm.

The 1st responders performed the heroic deed of rescue, recovering the dead and creating some order to the destruction.

But after this initial phase of recovery and response, one has to ask if any leader stepped up to observe, monitor and act on the outgrowth of harm to the people, economy, environment and habitat?  And why was there no response to accelerate the response to this growing harm?

What happened post 9/11?

The Bush Administration, the US EPA Director and Mayor Guiliani assured the public that New York City air quality was fine. We now know that is wrong.

Over the past 10 years, a growing evidence base of medical harm that includes a variety of cancers and pulmonary/lung related diseases and more.

Response to this growing medical evidence data base  has multiplied the frequency with which NY Firefighter and World Trade Center survivors are stricken with pulmonary and lung related disease or encounter cancer and die.

Tom Zeller, a Huffington Post reporter, on 9/9/2011 reported on how this struggle for help for these victims is just beginning to take form 10 years after the collapse of the World Trade Center.

Zeller interviewed John Feal, a retired Ground Zero disabled worker who sustained an injury at the site, offered his perspective post injury that took half his foot;

“I don’t need a doctor or a scientist or 12 years of college and a Ph.D and an MBA — no offense to them — but I don’t need anybody to tell me that 9/11 didn’t cause or did cause cancer,”

Feal’s own struggle to win compensation for his injury prompted him to establish the nonprofit FealGood Foundation to help 9/11 responders cope with the physical, mental and financial fallout of that day. He said he’s getting more and more requests for help from cancer sufferers.

How 9/11 prompted my thought leadership and journalism

After 9/11, I stopped watching mainstream news. I tired  from what I perceived to be unproductive forms of protest, denial and debate.

It was clear to me that the mainstream media audience needed a new form of journalism and post event response that was going to repair or prevent future harm from events like 9/11, Katrina, Haitian Earthquake, tsunamis, hurricane and earthquakes.

Like many other citizens, I concluded that events like these were accelerating because of the denial of the politicians, government officials and commercial business around the world.

The tangible evidence of this acceleration was evident to any American with the new-formed reality that 1 out of 2 Americans now live with a chronic illness sparked or complicated by environmental and chemical toxins.

Based on this observation, I shaped a question from which to grow my investigation and learning:

What does it mean to pay attention and stop denial?

I turned my attention more aggressively to identifying communities of people in business and the public sector that dared to form innovative responses to sustain a future for our children.

Many groups have formed with a mission to discover what it takes to turn the societal impacts of what we do when we go to work, reside in local communities and sustain the health of our family economically.

Each group is building a quality of life that assures us the best health possible, whether we are living, working or dying; and by joining with a learning community, over time each group creates its own “story of meaningful use.”

Sustaining TSOMU Proof of Concept

This past summer, drawing on dialogue with my personal advice network that includes Trina Hoefling  and Bernie Kelly, I developed a monetization model to sustain thestoryofmeaningfuluse.com and its companion page on Facebook.

The model as a business model moves beyond the concept of virtual collaboration to defining partnerships linked to the magazine for public and private educational communities that are shaping through dialogue, inquiry and stories of meaningful use, concrete stories of meaningful use.

What is unique about these communities is that they incubate ideas, build a deliberate and organic discovery process to shape activities of applied learning that impact the health of the environment, economy, people, and habitat

The editorial direction and format for these public and private communities will growing into a live educational journal. The community can report on their learning and the discovery of outcomes and metrics that have shaped out of hard work and investment with the intention for meaningful impact and response to harm from the perspective of the Earth Charter Precautionary Principle.

TSOMU public community access will offer current reports on how these learning communities take shape and archive these communities’ stories of meaningful use (applied learning).

The private communities integrate and contract with me and other associates in TSOMU’s professional community to capture the story of action research learning labs that are structured to accelerate applied learning through the building of trust. This happens in an incubated learning environment that invites accelerated learning through the use of investment and shared resources.

An Innovative Market Ready Publishing Format

For the past 3 years, I have carried out the hard work of proof of concept for this new monetization model for producing a web-based magazine on the web of sustainable value.

For each learning community that TSOMU serves, we will capture the story that brings a project to life through advocacy and inquiry. Trust building is basic to this concept of applied learning.

Over the next year, parallel to shaping the performance of this publishing venture, I will work with representation from all our stakeholders to set up and put to use a performance and accountability system to measure how this magazine contributes to sustainable value of all the communities we serve, public and private.

Our goal is to attract community participation (public and private) and design a form of communication and reporting that is not excessive or confusing to support our readers and clients to do the work that measures tangible impact and outcome.

Why is this of Value Now?

The Secretariat General of the United Nations on 14 July 2011 issued a report on the role and functioning of the UN Global compact.

This 10 year performance review found the membership of the UN Global Compact had failed to build the performance model that embedded sustainability through global companies beyond the walls of corporate headquarters into subsidiaries and the supply chain.

This review followed a report from George Kell, Executive Director of the UNGC, on the impact of UNGC’s 6,000 members over 130 countries.

This performance review of the UNGC’s work over the past 10 years parallel’s the lack of response to the growing harm that has taken form as a result of 9/11.

This assures the intelligence and heart of why the publication of thestoryofmeaningfuluse.com is so timely. The articles featured in this next cycle of publishing include contributions and editorial from

Jochen Kleef, Chairman EcoPoints Asia

Bernie Kelly, Principal, Intelog Health

I hope as our reader, that as you select and read articles that are relevant to you and you will join the dialogue for accelerated change and applied learning that this magazine serves.

Take a minute to add your thoughts  (comments)  to what you think of our agenda and help to build our community of accelerated change to embed sustainability.

Best,
Lavinia Weissman