How can we meet the sustainability challenges the world is facing? There is no easy answer to this question, but one thing is certain – there are several approaches to sustainability and every approach plays an important part in the strive to create a more sustainable world. Being true to our entrepreneurial mindset, we wanted to explore if we could make a difference and contribute to social sustainability by adding it as a component when working with innovation and co:creation.
So, what is social sustainability? UN defines social sustainability as the practice of creating a diverse and equitable society that successfully meets the basic social needs of citizens, for example by creating good quality of life which incorporates possibility to employment.
“CEVT, as an innovation and development centre, has been actively engaging in collaboration with start-ups and entrepreneurs all over the world. For us facilitating innovation with start-ups is one way to produce enhanced economic, social, and environmental benefits in the automotive industry, while developing innovative technologies for future mobility", says Mikael Rönnholm Head of innovation Strategy & Collaboration at CEVT.
He continues: “Let me give you an example of what I mean. A while back CEVT started to cooperate with Oulu in Finland – the city of former Nokia headquarters. At that time Finland had a very small to no existing automotive presence, but the city has managed to reinvent themselves into an innovation cluster. For example, they have developed IMSE technology (Printed Electronics), that sprung from research at the University of Oulu and VTT and was brought to the market by TactoTek. Back then the technology was still new and unexplored by the automotive industry and therefore interesting for us as the IMSE technology opens new way to realize the design vision with innovative product design and intuitive functions. There are many interesting start-ups and scaleups in Oulu, therefore we decided to engage in a close cooperation with Business Oulu.”
Today some of the start-ups are, via CEVT, cooperating with some of the Geely family brands and are on their way to make a footprint in the Chinese market. Oulu is on its way to play an important part in establishing close cooperation with the automotive industry and by doing so developing Finland’s presence in the automotive industry, hence creating new jobs and business opportunities. To conclude, by facilitating innovation with start-ups in the Oulu region, CEVT played a role in the economic and social development of the area.
“Working together with CEVT has helped Oulu to enter the world of the automotive industry. For example, several institutions within the Oulu University are now active in the automotive industry which also includes heavy vehicles, robotics etc. The number of start-ups and scaleups engaging with the automotive industry is growing rapidly and we are forming new collaborations with Tier1 and SME companies in the area of Stuttgart,” says Jukka Olli Senior Advisor at Business Oulu.
“So far, we have seen only positive results both on the social level and project level. Bringing one more parameter when working with innovation and sustainability has enriched our company and given us new perspectives”, says Mikael.
Social sustainability plays an important part in the development of our society, and is an often-overlooked aspect of sustainability, as the discussions often focus on the environmental or economic aspects. However, all three dimensions of sustainability should be addressed to attain the most sustainable outcome possible.
“As a next step we want to explore what happens if we open up for a co-creation culture and combine two vibrant high-tech ecosystems. We now have three identical test cars in three locations; Israel, Sweden and Finland. Three different cultures, two world leading innovation hubs with CEVT in the middle as a facilitator, enabler and a bridge to the market” says Mikael.