Through crowdsourcing, businesses can open up innovation in sustainability

The power of the crowd is now a proven reality of the modern world. From crowdfunding for startups or personal missions, through to sourcing insights and guidance on social platforms, people power is fuelling innovation on a daily basis.

Businesses are making the most of that power, too, and using it for the good of our planet. Among the most vocal about its sustainability credentials is Unilever; back in 2012, the FMCG group hosted the Sustainable Living Lab, a 24 hour online global event aiming to get fresh insights around sustainable sourcing, production and distribution.

They were at the forefront as environmental impact became a differentiator in B2C businesses. Today it’s widely understood that all businesses must play a role in sustainability research and development – yet there is still work to do. And the crowd is ready to help with innovative ideas and models.

Impact the world for good with sustainable savings

Environmental and economic interests don’t sit in conflict; they can work together for the greater good, helped by innovation focused on increased sustainability. For example, Stena Line uses AI to determine the most fuel-efficient route for its boats in a bid to reduce fuel consumption by 2.5% annually; the AI simulates different route scenarios before suggesting the optimal set-up for fuel efficiency and emission reduction.

Even the world of agriculture can benefit from scientific modelling to improve efficiency and environmental impact. The “smart strawberry field”, based on research by the University of Illinois, uses an algorithm that gives valuable information to farmers of hand-picked crops; its mathematical model optimises the work of the harvesters and determines the optimal time for transporting a strawberry crop from the field to cold storage.

What impact does this innovation have on the world? As the climate clock ticks ever-closer to 1.5C, we all must play a role in slowing climate change and looking after our world better. Every change a business can make – even the smallest moves towards sustainability – helps the planet. The question is, how can a business create that innovation and play its role?

Science and mathematics can reduce your environmental impact

Say, for example, you want to reduce the amount of CO2 your business emits, in line with the Paris Agreement. Where would you start? And how would you implement any findings? Scientific and mathematical modelling can look at the entirety of your operations and pinpoint potential savings – and then model the likely impact of the change on both your emissions and your profitability.

Google has even announced a $25m fund for businesses using artificial intelligence to address environmental and social issues, showing that even Silicon Valley recognises that innovation in sustainability can be crowdsourced – especially if you’re looking for new and unique concepts.

Crowdsource your sustainable innovation

You don’t have to go it alone when it comes to sustainability and innovation; crowdsourcing exists to help find new ideas and get in the necessary help to make things happen. For example, Danish construction firm EOGP went to the crowd to ask for sustainable solutions to reduce waste from construction – the building industry is responsible for 30% of society’s waste in Denmark, using more than 40% of domestic resources. Discarded materials are now used to build new sheds for storage, bikes and garbage disposal, meaning less going to landfill and polluting the environment (Source: OAQ Fall 2018).

Crowdsourcing can help solve your business challenges, and the Mathesia platform connects businesses with experts to solve challenges and create value. Put the world’s leading scientists and mathematicians to work on your business challenges, and together create real impact for sustainability.

Mathesia brings together people, facts, knowledge and information to drive business forward. Register here and launch your first challenge, or get in touch to discover more about how Mathesia can help you.