Sustainable innovation for business

How to succeed at Sustainable Innovation

Doing nothing is the biggest risk

When it comes to sustainable innovation, the single most important step towards success is to get started.

Sustainability has quickly turned from a business differentiation strategy into a key element for survival. In many sectors, it has been considered an additional option for decades. However, in recent years sustainability has become the center of attention of the general public, governments, and businesses at lighting speed. And science, as well as the finance industry, agree that it will only continue to gain importance.

Sustainable is the way forward

For companies around the globe, the message from the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) was clear: connect your business strategy with sustainability goals for future success. In conclusion, those who do not take climate action will fall behind. Similarly, the World Economic Forum has listed “climate action failure” as the number one global risk by severity.

Therefore, it is not surprising, that more and more businesses have implemented a wide range of sustainability measures in recent years. What was remarkable, however, was the rapidly increasing adoption rate in recent years.

Driving forces for sustainable innovation

Conscious consumers

Government action

Sustainable investing

Conscious consumers

Private consumers, as well as professional clients, are more informed today than ever before. They want to make a difference with their purchase and investment decisions. Business also are striving more and more to ensure sustainability along the entire value chain.

How to get started with sustainable innovation?

There are many ways for businesses to implement sustainability in their offerings and organizations. This means that there is no common blueprint or one-size-fits-all approach.

The HYVE Green Deal

At HYVE, innovation is our job and sustainability is our conviction. We want to make an impact by making sustainability an integral part of every innovation project.

We pledge to dedicate a 3% sustainability budget on top of every project with our clients. That means we add another 3% of the total project volume in the form of wo/men power to the project. That time is dedicated exclusively to working on sustainable solutions – for free!

Let´s talk about your sustainable innovation potential

In our daily work with our customers and partners, we have identified 3 key success factors that are crucial to take into account when developing sustainable innovations:

Success factor #1

The Sweet Spot of Sustainable Innovation

Putting sustainability at the center of innovation projects.

Finding the Sweet Spot of Sustainable Innovation

The Sweet Spot of Innovation is a core element of Design Thinking. It checks a new product idea for the following three criteria to increase the chances for a successful new concept: Is it desirable for users? Is it feasible? Is it financially viable? 

At HYVE, we believe that the true Sweet Spot of Innovation also must include the aspect of Sustainability. This ultimately leads us to the Sweet Spot of Sustainable Innovation:


  • Desirability: How do users perceive sustainability? Which aspects are important to potential users regarding the new product or service?   
  • Feasibility: How can sustainable & circular design aspects be integrated into the new product or service? (design for zero waste)  
  • Viability: How can a business model create monetary and societal value?  (sustainable business model canvas) 

It should not be considered a bonus if a product or service is sustainable. Sustainability is the basic requirement for successful, lasting innovation. User demand, the ability to source materials to build a product, as well as long-term economic success of a product require sustainability – now and in the future.

The Sweet Spot of Sustainable Innovation graphic


Success factor #2


Looking at the bigger picture.

Moving from user-centric to planet-centric

Innovation management and Design Thinking traditionally put the focus on the user. In addition, when setting up a sustainable innovation project, we zoom out and take a wider perspective. This means that in order to take product-related decisions, we take the environmental, social, and economic impact into account.

There is a vast potential in moving from solutions that were made to make users´ lives faster and more convenient to creating superior concepts that are loved by consumers and by the planet.

Success factor #3


Sharing is caring.

Utilizing the power of collaboration and an open innovation mindset

Sustainable innovation requires collaboration and the willingness to share knowledge and resources. This applies to employees within a company and to cooperation with external stakeholders.

Within the company:

The innovating company needs to be ready and open for innovation. This is supported by creating a dedicated innovation strategy, or by training the management and entire teams in agile, creative methods. Even business models can be put to the test. Learn more about our Innovation Strategy & Empowerment offering

Outside the company:

There are various formats and tools available to enable collaboration with stakeholders outside of a company. Inspiration for innovative solutions can be found by simple cross-industry comparison. Another popular option that can lead to extremely valuable insights is user testing. Last but not least, Open Innovation, also known as Crowdsourcing, is one of the most open and transparent formats to benefit from the wealth of ideas that a large group of people can generate.

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