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‘Sustainability is about growth and innovation’ [Bill McDermott]

While all the insights, impressions and feelings are still alive, I’d like to share my highlights from Sustainable Brands 2015 in San Diego. The conference ended yesterday, it was the biggest and best event in their long history.

All attendees, speakers, staff members, etc. deserve the highest praise. Its very hard to choose personal highlights – but here are some of them:

.) Sustainable Brands 2015 Innovation Open

More than 100 startups entered this year's competition and I had the great honor to be one of the judges in the panel. We voted based on creativity, team quality, and economic scalability. Target was the overall sponsor, and had the privilege to give their own award.

The winners are:

Stuffstr - winner ‘Target Award’

Stuffstr is a member of the circular economy RE100 and a retailer-branded app that helps retail customers maximize the lifetime value of everything they buy.

As a B-corp, Stuffstr has the promise to fundamentally change the way we purchase and  deal with stored items in our garage.

LanzaTech - ‘Peoples Choice Winner’ and ‘SB’15 Innovation Open Winner'

Your next transatlantic flight might be fueled by the smokestack waste of a steel mill.   LanzaTech’s patented technology recycles carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide emissions, and pushes the gas through a patented reactor, converting it into ethanol. Similar like making beer through a fermentation process. In this case organisms are  ‘eating’ the carbon monoxide/dioxide and convert it into ethanol.


While not winning awards, these start-ups had my attention as well:

MeterHero, a Web-based utility monitoring tool, is looking to encourage people to conserve water and energy through cash rebates sponsored by businesses with sustainability goals. I signed up a couple of days ago, and received already a cash bonus in my email that I shared with my kids for taking shorter showers. I see that as a great future marketing tool to engage with existing customers as well as acquire new customers. I signed up a couple of days ago, and received already a cash bonus in my email that I shared with my kids for taking shorter showers. I see that as a great future marketing tool to engage with existing customers as well as acquire new customers. Try it !

Bitty Foodsdelivers high protein foods powered by cricket flour. We need to feed 9 billion people in the very near future, and just the biomass of ants alone far outweighs the biomass of humans on this planet. We know the environmental damage caused by current meat production for our protein diet. Lets switch to crickets, ants and bugs. Because the samples I tasted at the conference were the best cookies I ever had in my life.

Baby Hero – provides fair-trade, organic, ethically-made baby clothes that fund a Neonatal Survival Kit for babies in the most underdeveloped parts of the world and will reduce mortality by 40-50% in those regions. Great cause, great outcome.

‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has’ [Margaret Mead]

Other highlights:

.) 3M

'Environmental activists stoop to new low: Spend money to rent boat to illegally trespass to protest ...' was the headline in the news when ForestEthics activists showed up in boats at last years conference.

Akward, uncomfortable for all attendees, because these activists are representing what we are trying to do – namely change the status quo. While 3M had no good strategy to deal with it while being on stage last year, 3M turned it around this year.

3M announced the launch of a new paper and wood pulp sourcing policy designed to trace virgin wood fiber and ensure it is coming from renewable sources.

New headline in the news: ‘ForestEthics Applauds 3M’s New Industry-Leading Sustainability Plan’

Great outcome and great story-telling for Sustainable Brands attendees.

.) EY

EY announced the roll-out of the ‘EY Beacon Institute’ as ‘…a community of executives, entrepreneurs and luminaries advancing a transformation of the working world by redefining what it means to be a successful company in the 21st Century’. It redefines what it means to be a successful company, and shows evidence. It shows how embedding purpose into the core business model drives innovation and growth.

Here some first research results of project ‘Beacon’:

  • 64% of ‘best in class’ companies embedding and explaining organizational purpose have seen 10-30% revenue growth (versus 24% of ‘laggards’ experienced declining revenues over the same period)
  • 81% of ‘best in class’ companies increased customer satisfaction scores, while only 41% of ‘laggards’ have seen similar results

More info under :

.) ‘Net-positive’ Super Bowl 50

Neill Duffy is co-chair of the Sustainability Sub-Committee and sustainability advisor for the San Francisco Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee, and is on a quest to make Super Bowl 50 in the Bay Area ‘… the most sustainable, most shared, most participated in, most giving Super Bowl ever’.

Neill talked about his involvement in 2013’s zero-waste and carbon-neutral America’s Cup in San Francisco and the focus on ocean health. But he also mentions that they were not allowed to use ‘climate change’ in their board meetings at that time. The world has changed again.

His committee now leads the Super Bowl 50 discussions talking about climate change as well as responsible use of natural resources. With a clear goal to inspire fans to embrace sustainability personally and create a sustainable legacy for all future Super Bowl events. Stay tuned, we will share more information about SAP’s involvement here very soon….although Neill spilled some the beans during his talk already :smile:

.) Prince Ea

Based on noise level and standing ovations, Prince Ea was everybodys highlight when introducing his new video in the plenary. 'I am passionate about the art of communicating complex ideas simple' --> No more words needed – just listen,

Dear Future Generations: Sorry - YouTube

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Disclaimer: SAP is corporate member and I also represent SAP in the Sustainable Brands advisory board.