Discussions on CSR and Social Innovation at Volvo Trucks

Yesterday was an interesting day! By invitation from Eva Engquist and Hanna Sigsjö from ”Mötesplatsen för Social Innovation och Samhällsentreprenörskap”, CSR and sustainability managers from 5 companies, coming from very different industries, gathered at Volvo Trucks in Gothenburg. The topic to discuss was ”social innovation” – what it is, the connection to CSR and sustainability initiatives, and how to integrate it successfully in business development strategies. Participating companies were Volvo, IBM, Skanska, pwc, and Pfizer of course. So very interesting to see that regardless of industry branch, similar challenges and opportunities are identified. There are definitely a lot to learn from colleagues in other industries.

I started the presentation of industry cases by discussing social innovation in the pharmaceutical sector. Not surprising to anyone of you who follows my blog, the case included discussions upon wellness and prevention initiatives, such as the ”more-than-medication” initiative. The pharmaceutical industry has a great possibility to not only provide medication for different illnesses but also be a partner to society when it comes to prevent illnesses and create wellness. And I am convinced that this presents a great business opportunity as well. I have discussed this in several blog posts previosuly, so if you want more details please read these posts for instance: October 4, 2011April 8, 2011, and February 8, 2011.

After my presentation we listened to Andreas Lundgren from IBM. Extremely interesting, and fascinating, to see IBM’s ideas around intelligent information systems and ”IT-logistics”. There are so many interesting uses of more intelligent IT-solutions in a sustainable society. Just think of areas such as public transportation and logistics and information to citizens, including patients and carers. And of course the use of such systems in buildings and houses to optimize energy use etc. Which brings us over to the presentation from Skanska, given to us by Eva-Lena Carlén-Johansson and Ulrika Nordeborg. Eva-Lena had the corporate Skanska focus, and Ulrika had the ”BoKlok”-fokus. The BoKlok-experience on residential houses, is a perfect example of social innovation in construction industry, but of course similar examples can be found when it comes to roads, bridges, and all other infrastructure solutions in society. We were all in agreement that the concept of ”a sustainable society” (including all aspects from ”sustainable cities”) is crucial to continue working upon. It is also a perfect example upon issues where the collaboration between industry and public and governmental organizations, such as County Councils and municipalities, is very important for success!

From ”infrastructure”, the step is not very far to transports, and hence trucks. Martin Bramsved and Lars Mårtensson from Volvo Trucks gave their views upon sustainable transport and logistics solutions. We had good discussions upon issues such as alternative fuels and upon enhanced transport effeciency. Especially in the latter case, there are of course several interesting connections to ”intelligent IT-solutions”. It is clear from discussions such as these, that companies gain a lot from sharing challenges and opportunities with one another!

Yet another area where both intelligent IT-solutions are important, and collaboration between private and public actors are crucial for success, is energy supply. Well functioning energy networks are crucial for today’s society. We got several interesting views upon what can be done, and things that have been done, when it comes to social innovations in the energy area. Katarina Skalare from pwc, has a lot of experiences from E.ON. One obvious area is of course increased energy efficiency in sustainable cities.

Discussions were good, and I am convinced that future discussions within this small network, will help to develop the area of ”social innovation and entrepreneurship” and create new collaborations across industry branches. This will build new business opportunities for us, on the same time as we are ”doing good for society”.

Many thanks to Eva and Hanna for taking the initiative, and to Martin for hosting the meeting!

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