IAMI's working continuasly to support the sustainable innovation, makes sense for IAMI's. ... Innovation is vital for a company’s survival and growth. Firms that don’t innovate fall behind their competitors and ultimately go out of business. However, traditional forms of innovation may result in profitable products, services, and processes – but also harm employees or over-exploit natural resources.

“Sustainable innovation” seeks to address those unintended social and environmental impacts. It implies that companies can provide products and services that are good for themselves and for society in the long term. This article explains what sustainable innovation means, why it is important, and how to practice it.

Sustainable innovation involves making intentional changes to a company’s products, services, or processes to generate long-term social and environmental benefits while creating economic profits for the firm. That definition comes from researcher Richard Adams, who reviewed academic and industry research on the topic.

Developing novel products and services. Through sustainable innovation, companies can invent and offer novel products or services that directly contribute to achieving sustainability. … Changing operational processes. Sustainable innovation is not only about inventing novel products or services. 

Firms can also innovate sustainably while offering existing products or services when they change their processes. Process changes can occur in many areas, e.g. design, production, marketing, and even HR. ... Some might wonder how these sustainable innovations differ from traditional forms of innovation. After all, both traditional and sustainability innovation involve developing new products, services, or processes. Three core features set sustainable innovation apart.

Sustainable innovations contribute to sustainable businesses. Sustainable innovation intentionally aims to “meet the needs of present generations without compromising the needs of future generations.” It requires businesses to actively incorporate issues such as human rights, and climate change into their innovation processes. Companies that engage in sustainable innovation go beyond seeking immediate profits. They think long-term, about investing in technologies and people for the future.

Sustainable innovations require systems thinking. When companies engage in sustainable innovation, they do not merely focus on their own organization. Instead, they look more broadly to the whole system of which they are part – including other companies, the natural environment, and stakeholders and communities. They have a good understanding of how their actions affect other organizations and vice versa.

Sustainable innovations must be embedded into firm’s culture. Unlike traditional innovations that are mostly performed within a separate R&D department or unit, sustainable innovations are likely to be more successful when they are deeply embedded in the firm’s culture. When sustainability is not part of the corporate culture, the pursuit of short-term profits will kill sustainability-oriented creative ideas without giving them sufficient time to mature.

Ultimately, companies succeed when they are sustainable. First, sustainable companies attract talented employees. Compared to their non-sustainable competitors, sustainability-oriented companies bring in better people. In a recent Deloitte survey of millennials and Gen Zs, 49% said that their personal ethics have played a role in their career choices.

Moreover, companies that care about sustainability are also more resilient compared to their competitors: especially important in a turbulent world. Companies with a sustainability orientation were more likely to survive through crises, experienced less share price volatility, and generated more revenues over the long run than those without a sustainability orientation.

Despite how wonderful it may sound; sustainable innovation does not come easy. Achieving it takes time, commitment, and effort. So: how can firms innovate sustainably?

Sustainable innovation can be put in three broad categories: operational optimization, organizational transformation, and systems building. Researcher Richard Adams and colleagues identified these different categories, shown in the graphic below. They represent a continuum in terms of impact, with “systems building” creating the greatest change.

Operational optimization. Firms can improve their operational processes without fundamentally changing their business model. They can find ways to “do the same things better,” and reduce their negative environmental and social impacts (e.g., using renewable energy and reducing packaging). This can be done relatively easily by adding environmental and social criteria to existing quality or profit criteria. This approach is sometimes called “eco-efficiency.”