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Media 31 May 2016

Volans partners with UN Global Compact to launch the Breakthrough Innovation Platform

SustainAbility’s sister company, Volans, today announces a strategic partnership with the UN Global Compact to create the Breakthrough Innovation Platform, targeted for launch in September 2016.

The aim of the platform is to bridge between the linear world of incumbent companies and the increasingly exponential worlds of the insurgent innovators and entrepreneurs now driving an A-to-Z of disruptive businesses creating new, different forms of faster and better value.

By engaging companies, exponential thinkers and practitioners,  the platform will explore and showcase new ideas and emerging practice around:

1. The Exponential Looking Glass

Whether from Silicon Valley, Berlin, Tokyo or Johannesburg, the Breakthrough Innovation Platform will spotlight some of the most innovative people on the planet and share their thinking around exponential technology, organizations, change – and their take on how to facilitate both radical and sustaining innovation.

2. Disruptive Technologies for Sustainability

The constant buzz around technology innovations and the next big thing can make it challenging to identify the ones truly transforming our world and our businesses. The Platform will identify and analyze the upsides and downsides of technologies that have the potential to disrupt industries and, in the process, create opportunities for sustainable performance. These include technologies ranging from big data, artificial intelligence and the internet of things through to driverless vehicles, 3D printing and synthetic biology.

3. Tomorrow’s Business Models

Business model innovation is on the Board and C-suite agendas like never before. Bridging between corporate incumbents and the wave of market insurgents, the Platform will explore and outline promising and potentially more sustainable business models made possible by breakthrough innovation and digitalization. This will include a close look at platform and network models, the shift from products to services and on-demand offerings, and other models emerging from circular, collaboration and sharing economies.

“Change is coming at business at an accelerating rate signalling an era of profound disruption,” says Lise Kingo, the Global Compact’s new Executive Director. “Our 8,300 corporate members include pioneers in corporate social responsibility, shared value and supply chain management, but the launch in 2015 the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the COP21 climate agreement signalled a new era of opportunity—where companies must shift from considering the business case for action to evolving the business models which will be at the heart of tomorrow’s economy.”

In the eight years since Volans was setup by SustainAbility founder John Elkington, the focus has been on innovators and entrepreneurs seeking to disrupt old ways of thinking and create new forms of value. So we are delighted to now help usher in what we call the Breakthrough Decade that will see a range of disruptions accelerating, but that also signal a new era of opportunity for developing and deploying innovative business models that will be at the heart of tomorrow’s economy.

“Whether in Silicon Valley, Berlin, Tokyo or Johannesburg, we are engaging and learning from some of the most innovative people on the planet,” explains John Elkington, co-founder and Chairman of Volans.

Find out more about the Breakthrough Innovation Platform on the Volans or UNGC websites.



A change agency, with the aim of stretching the thinking of business leaders – towards “Breakthrough”. That is, to look beyond incremental change and address systemic challenges at scale.

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The United Nations Global Compact

A United Nations initiative to encourage businesses worldwide to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies, and to report on their implementation.

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