Innovate To Accelerate

Innovate To Accelerate

Innovate To Accelerate

Collaboration and partnership have always been buzz words in sustainability. Everyone knows that to achieve sustainability goals we have to work together. No country, company or community can do it on their own. In response to this, we see collaborative sustainability initiatives happening at many different levels – at global level (e.g. the Sustainable Development Goals; the Paris Climate Agreement), at industry level (e.g. the WeMeanBusiness Coalition; the Glasgow Financial Alliance for net zero), and at sectoral level (e.g. the Principles of Responsible Banking, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, the Broadcasting Sustainability Roadmap). There are also broad coalitions like the All Ireland Pollinator Plan that citizens, communities, and organisations can all get involved in.

Collaborative initiatives are very successful at bringing together groups of people and organisations to work towards common goals and to apply common principles or practices in how they do things. However, to really accelerate the pace of change on sustainability – and climate action in particular – we need to marry collaboration with innovation. This is the sweet spot.

Through SW’s work with businesses – particularly large corporates who are advanced on their sustainability journey – we are seeing a growing need and demand for innovative sustainability solutions. These corporates have developed their sustainability strategy, they’ve got their implementation plan or their decarbonisation roadmap down on paper, and they now need to make it happen. They need to deliver on the targets they’ve set. To do this, the systems and solutions they’ve relied on in the past won’t suffice. New approaches – sometimes radically new ones – are required.

This is where sustainability gets exciting and where the opportunity side of it opens up. There is potential opportunity for corporates who are brave enough to try new approaches and invest in sustainable technologies or solutions that could be gamechanging. There is also enormous potential and financial gain to be had by both start-ups and established companies who can bring innovative solutions to the market.

Sustainability has sometimes been described as the biggest business opportunity of the 21st century. We need to make this true by doing more to promote and accelerate sustainable innovation in Ireland and around the world. At SW are working on a few exciting projects to help play our part. We’ll share more in the coming months, so watch this space!

P.S. Wishing all our readers a good break over the summer. SW News is also taking a summer holiday – we’ll be back in September!

Top 5 Articles

Here’s a roundup of recent articles and reports that caught our attention:

  • M&S launch innovation challenge: the retailer is pledging to trial emerging solutions in its stores and supply chain, including innovations that could improve the shelf life of produce and enable more vertical farming. (Edie)
  • Musgrave’s sustainability fund: the owner of SuperValu and Centra stores around Ireland has announced a new fund aimed at empowering its retailers to achieve net zero carbon by 2040 and help make every community in Ireland a sustainable one. (
  • Deutsche Bank greenwashing allegations: the CEO of Deutsche Bank’s DWA Asset Management arm resigned in early June as police raided the bank’s offices following allegations of greenwashing related to investments made using so-called ‘ESG criteria’. (Reuters)
  • EPA urge faster climate action: Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency has said that urgent implementation of all climate plans and policies, plus further new measures, are needed for Ireland to meet its 51% emissions reduction target by 2030. (RTE)
  • Regenerative Brands: a new report by Globescan and BBMG shares the results of a global survey of over 30,000 people in 30 international markets that explored how brands and businesses might play a role in helping us regenerate our world. (BBMG)

SW and Innovation

Sustainable innovation is one of the areas we focus on in SW. Our Co-Founder Aideen O’Hora has been championing it for many years. She’s passionate about climate tech, the role it has in helping companies meet their net zero carbon targets, and the commercial opportunity it presents for entrepreneurs and forward-thinking businesses.

Aideen published the Cleantech in Ireland report back in 2014, led the Greenway – Ireland’s first cleantech cluster – and established the Climate KIC Accelerator programme in Ireland in 2017. While the programme is now managed by Trinity, Aideen remains actively involved in helping to deliver it and mentor the participating start-ups. She’s also been supporting the New Venture programme that’s part of IMR’s CIRCULÉIRE initiative.

As a result of all this, Aideen is the woman in the know when it comes to sustainable innovation in Ireland! She loves connecting sustainable start-ups with corporates looking for solutions, and vice versa. The rest of us in the team like to think of it her superpower – joining the dots and making things happen.

Climate conversation 2022

Part of the National Dialogue on Climate Action (NDCA), Climate Conversations 2022 is the opportunity for all of us as citizens of Ireland to share our views on climate action – what we think the government should be doing and how they can support us as individuals to take action in our own lives. There’s a short questionnaire to be completed and your views will go into shaping the 2022 Climate Action Plan. Click here for info.

What we’ve been up to

The SW team have been enjoying getting out and about over the last few weeks, seeing people in real life rather than behind a screen!  Laura took part in a panel discussion on the role of the Board in addressing ESG risk at the ESG Summit 2022 in Croke Park. Karen delivered a half day training course on Foundations in sustainability and ESG for business as part of Ibec’s training academy. Aideen chaired a panel discussion on the role of policy in Ireland’s sustainable future at Bord na Móna and Resolve Partners’ Accelerate Green Conference in Tullamore.

The whole team had a great night out at the inaugural Sunday Business Post & PWC Sustainable Business Awards where we were nominated for best sustainable business team. We didn’t scoop the award but we couldn’t have lost to a more deserving winner – the Irish Blood Transfusion Service. SW were also shortlisted for ‘best start-up’ at the Business and Finance ESG awards last week. We shared a table with our good friends at Ethico who bagged the trophy (well done Ciaran & Evan!). It’s great to see these kinds of events happening in Ireland and celebrating the many companies doing good work in this space.

Team SW: Shelia, Conor, Pauline, Karen, Aideen, Laura, Donall


What we’re watching

This 10 minute TED talk called How to Find Joy in Climate Action is about how we can all discover a meaningful, individual role in climate action through a simple exercise of completing a climate action venn diagram. As Ayana Elizabeth Johnson says: “quite possibly you are most powerful in your existing role where you have specialised knowledge and robust networks.” It’s about thinking about how you might ‘lean in’ to those talents to create change.

What We’re Reading

Venture Capital firms increasingly see climate tech as an investment opportunity. Sifted’s Sustain newsletter provides a good round up of what’s going on in the VC space at the intersection of start-ups, innovation and sustainability. We recommend!

Sustainability Jobs

  • Head of Sustainability and Innovation – Irish Water
  • Associate Director, ESG Research for asset management firm – via Cpl
  • Manager, Citizen and Sustainability Ireland – Abbot
  • ESG and Sustainability Manager – Aramark
  • Senior Buildings Sustainability Consultant – Arup
  • Carbon footprint manager – Staycity Group
  • Director Sustainability – Cushman and Wakefield
  • Whole life carbon and sustainability consultant – Cundall
  • International ESG reporting and governance lead – Google
  • Senior Sustainability Consultant – RPS
  • Senior Ecologists – RPS
  • CSR Specialist – Telus International, Ireland
  • Climate Change, Sustainability and Resilience opportunities – AECOM
  • Director, Governance and ESG, Strategic Communications – FTI Consulting
  • Senior Manager, Risk Assurance and Sustainability – PWC
  • Associate Director, Data Analytics for Sustainability – EY
  • Associate, Sustainable Business Strategy – EY
  • Sustainability and Carbon subject matter expert – KPMG
  • Sustainability and climate risk subject matter expert – KPMG