It is amazing how much sustainable innovation is going on in India. We saw just a small segment of it when we hosted a CEO roundtable in Delhi last week.
For the formal kick off of our India: Innovation Nation project with The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), we gathered 20 Country CEOs and Chairmen round an August board table to discuss innovation for sustainability. Dr Pachauri, TERI’s Director General, started with a quote from Ghandi himself: “The world is enough for everybody’s needs but not everybody’s greed.” Rousing words for business to respond to the earth’s challenges. Jonathon Porritt followed, stressing the need for the innovation pipeline to mature faster and scale to respond to the inevitable convergence of food, energy and water stresses.
When the Chair, Martin Wright opened up to the floor the examples came thick and fast. Akzo Nobel told of their paint that keeps buildings 5 degrees cooler; for Mahindra it was the new electric Reva; BASF was delivering total insulation and food fortification; and Tata Chemicals was finding new ways to restore soil quality and reduce the draw on ground water. And then we were into a second round with stories from Eaton Corporation, Indus Towers, Alcatel-Lucent India Ltd, Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs and several more.
One of the stories that stuck in my mind was when Mr Valluri, Chairman of Ingersoll Rand shared what they were doing for Indian farmers. Between 30-40% of agricultural produce is wasted due to the lack of an effective cold chain (keeping food fresh and chilled in transit). Ingersoll Rand produces cooling products and cold chain solutions in India, so together with a major truck manufacturer they produced the Thermo King B 100 – a smaller truck with a battery operated cooling system, powered by the engine that can negotiate the small rural tracks and take fresh produce right from the farm. Farmers can access new financing to make the whole system work and as less is wasted they have more to sell and more income. A great example of an innovation partnership that could help solve a major problem, but also has a clear commercial benefit too.
This was exciting for Forum – the stories chimed so well with our existing partner work on innovation. But the desire to collaborate on innovation and really scale was also striking. Our special India edition of Green Futures will pull more examples together to start this process. Then I am really looking forward to working with this esteemed group to find ways to get further, faster in tackling massive challenges for India like energy security, food production, water stress and malnutrition. This could be the start of a really powerful innovation coalition.