How will universities and research institutions accelerate sustainable innovation?
Sustainable Business

Michael Lenox and Tate Moeller discuss the role of researchers and universities to serve as incubators of sustainable innovations and technology.

Tate Moeller (00:10):

In your book, you reference how university research has also helped foster sustainable innovation and help find these new products or technologies that then become marketable to the economy. We have had success in that as well. In one of our divisions, our soil biodegradable mulch film is used in agricultural practice. We’re part of a five year study and seeing the effects of it – coming from an unbiased position and seeing how it helps the crops and what it does to the soil. We’re also hoping that in the future that we can collaborate with universities on our packaging division as well.

Michael Lenox (00:51):

When you think about innovation, we think about the two people in the garage, in Silicon Valley or something, but the fact is the kind of lifecycle of innovation often starts with public sources like universities or national labs, especially for the basic research. A lot of the success in the United States in innovation has been the movement of technologies and ideas from the university lab setting into the commercial marketplace. I think that kind of symbiotic relationship is one that has been really important to our success as a country over the last 50-60 years – especially as we started to address these types of issues is going to continue to be a necessary part. It gets back to this idea that again, the economy is a system at the end of the day. These, “non-market players” are actually critical in how the economy advances and how technologies come about.

Lenox is the Tayloe Murphy Professor of Business Administration, Senior Associate Dean, and Chief Strategy Officer at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business.

Moeller is the Director of Sustainability Solutions at Minneapolis-based 2DegreesCooler™.

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