The challenge

Sustainability issues are eroding the foundations of our current business models - through energy and commodity price rises, worries on security of supply, demands on transparency and more. Yet these changing circumstances are an exciting opportunity for companies that are willing to look beyond compliance and risk management and start pointing their innovation processes towards solutions which take environmental limits into account.

Our Sustainable Business Models Group, which includes Bupa, Kingfisher, Marks & Spencer, O2, TUI Group (formerly TUI Travel) and Unilever, realise that incremental improvements are not enough. Towards the end of 2011 the group asked Forum for the Future for help on how to do "breakthrough innovation" for sustainability, by which we mean the kinds of services and products which can change an entire sector for the better; brilliant ideas which are commercially successful and create a brighter future for us all.


What we did

We realised that many companies don’t already have the right structures or processes in place, so we have produced ‘Breakthrough innovation: your guide to innovating for a brighter future’. It brings together research and practical insights which we hope will be the beginning of a more radical approach to innovation for many companies.


What we found

We have drawn three broad conclusions on what a company can do internally:

  1. Have a balanced portfolio of innovation;
  2. Embed breakthrough innovation in your culture
  3. Set up management structures that spot and nurture breakthroughs.

There are different ways of doing each. The best way of using this guide is to pick out insights and apply them to your company. Whether you are a senior executive, a sustainability champion, or someone charged with innovation, we think that breakthrough innovation is a vital way of creating positive change inside your organisation.


We want to hear from you

  • Have you used the guide? Please let us know how you got on.
  • Alternatively, if you would like to discuss how you can work more closely with Forum, please email Zoe Le Grand.


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