As the world starts to see the tangible effects of global warming, even the most skeptical among us are beginning to acknowledge the urgency of sustainability.
As businesses, we have always been driven by growth. While sustainability has traditionally been low on the priority list for corporate growth, in recent years, it has become a key driver of development for companies worldwide.
Given that environmental, social, and governance (ESG) focused assets are projected to grow to US$50 trillion by 2025, it is clear that the business case for sustainable innovation has never been stronger.
Sustainability in Singapore is also experiencing rapid growth in awareness as an increasing number of companies adopt sustainable practices and investments.
Spend 5 minutes with me to look at what sustainable innovation is, why it is essential for everyone, and what Singapore is doing to make it part of the fabric of its dynamic economy.
What is Sustainable Innovation?
Most of us are familiar with the concept of innovation. After all, it is the lifeblood of any economy looking to compete in the global marketplace. But what exactly is sustainable innovation?
Simply put, sustainable innovation is creating value for society while minimising environmental impact. It is about designing products, services, and business models that protect the planet for future generations.
Apart from confronting the necessities of a green future, sustainable innovation is also driven by growing consumer demand for goods and services created with environmental sustainability in mind.
Consumers are increasingly conscious of the environmental and social impacts of their purchasing decisions, and they are willing to pay more for products and services that positively affect the world.
This represents a huge opportunity for businesses to tap into a lucrative market while also doing good for the planet. To tap into this market of immense potential, they need to innovate.
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Why is Sustainable Innovation Important?
There are 3 main reasons why sustainable innovation is important for businesses:
Critical Growth Driver
The first reason is that it is a key growth driver. To stay competitive in the global marketplace, businesses need to innovate. And sustainable innovation presents a vast untapped market of opportunities for companies to explore.
The second reason is risk management. As the effects of climate change become more apparent, businesses need to start incorporating sustainability into their risk management strategies.
By making sustainability a key part of their operations, businesses can protect themselves against potential disruptions to their supply chains and reputational damage from being seen as irresponsible corporate citizens.
The Right Thing to Do
The third reason is that sustainable innovation is simply the right thing to do. We are all responsible for leaving the planet in a better state for future generations. Businesses are in a unique position to make a positive impact on the world through their products and services.
How is Singapore Fostering Sustainable Innovation?
With its usual foresight, the city-state’s government has seen the importance of sustainable innovation.
The country has already been taking early measures on sustainable development, such as:
- Switching from fuel to natural gas to create electricity
- Establishing its goal to phase out internal combustion engine vehicles that use petrol and diesel to electric vehicles by 2040
- The creation of green buildings and to have more than 80% of buildings in Singapore to be green by 2030
Its US$133 million Enterprise Sustainability Programme (ESP), managed by the Singapore government agency, Enterprise Singapore, is driving businesses to develop sustainable solutions.
The ESP is one part of its climate action initiative, the Singapore Green Plan 2030, which aims to build a sustainable city to ensure that Singapore remains a clean and habitable place for all citizens.
Within that plan, the ESP focuses on making sustainability both profitable and effective in reducing carbon emissions — beneficial for businesses, investors, and the environment alike.
There are 3 major components to the programme:
- Develop sustainability capabilities in enterprises through training and support for innovation
- Strengthen sector-specific capabilities through partnerships with Trade and Association Chambers (TACs) and corporations
- Foster a vibrant and conducive sustainability ecosystem through partnerships with service providers to strengthen training, certification, and financing
To encourage education, Enterprise Singapore co-funds 70% of the course fees for participants, and these grants are available to any business looking to innovate sustainably.
In these courses, participants will learn how to build capabilities and capture opportunities in the green economy. If you are in business in Singapore, you should definitely take advantage of this fantastic opportunity to gain an edge in the market.
The Fruits of Sustainable Innovation in Singapore
It is one thing to praise policy, but it is another thing to show what the fruits of that policy can look like.
Karana Foods, a Singapore company, produces plant-based meat alternatives to popular animal-based meats like chicken satay and beef rendang.
Jackfruit is being utilised as a meat replacement since it has a similar texture when cooked.
Their innovation has vast implications on sustainability — by replacing animal-based meat with plant-based meat, they are significantly reducing the environmental impact of meat production.
Singapore’s first commercial “skyscraper farm” was launched in 2016, producing about 500 kg of produce per day.
Today, and &ever, a German vertical farming company, is establishing a plant and R&D facility in Singapore, with a target output of 1,400kgs of vegetables and herbs each day.
These are real examples of innovation leading to product development with sustainability in mind, and it is this kind of innovation that the ESP is hoping to encourage more of.
Sustainability in Singapore is Driving More Green Initiatives
Sustainable innovation is not a passing fad. It is here to stay, and it is only going to become more important in the years to come.
The ESP is just one part of Singapore’s journey towards a more sustainable future, and we can all be proud to be a part of it. For those still on the fence, now is the time to jump in, with the generous support of the Singapore Government.
- Sustainable innovation refers to the creation of new products, services, or business processes to create long-term environmental and socially responsible benefits.
- Sustainable innovation has positive impacts on a company’s reputation, sales, and is the right way forward to fight a global environmental crisis.
- Singapore revealed its Singapore Green Plan 2030, a nationwide movement that outlined goals for urban development, energy transition, and green lifestyles.