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24th – 26th September 2014

My son was born shortly after the last blog post and I’m now back from paternity leave. Having some time to focus on something else (mostly nappies and when we might sleep) has helped me reflect on an issue I have been mulling over the last month: the importance of communities to business. Watching Lord Stern’s TED Talk I was reminded that growth is something we still need to pursue but it must bring with it an improvement in living standards for society. The incredible growth in China and Latin America has lifted millions out of poverty. The challenge has been to sustain that beneficial growth while reducing the impact on the environment. Environmental change leads to societal upheaval on a grand scale so the two are intertwined.

This leaves me thinking about how much companies want to deliver benefit to society and be seen to be valued in that way. Those that do tend be more trusted and able to shift their business model towards value-added services rather than cheapest produced product. Circular economy ideas have been around a long time and something such as the sharing economy is rooted in community. Communities have always shared assets: from playgrounds to woodland. So how do companies create that sense of belonging and trust? Will digital platforms enable this as we increasingly get out sense of identity and community online? Will the trend towards localism (certainly in the UK) drive growth in local, community based, economies? I’d be interested in your thoughts.

In the few days since I’ve been back working, aside from clearing the email backlog I took part in a Guardian Sustainable Business debate on ‘How far can we go with the idea of a circular economy?’ You can see the debate here: http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2014/sep/17/how-far-circular-economy-possible-live-chat?CMP=new_1194

While I have been being a new Dad the next Resource Efficiency call has gone live: the Recovering Valuable Materials from Waste competition. We’re giving plenty of warning for this competition as we’re keen to see waste companies engage – a sector that historically is underrepresented in our projects. To help connect up companies wanting to submit projects the KTN has set up a brokerage site on _connect: https://connect.innovateuk.org/web/increasing-value-from-waste-competition/overview

Stat of the week: Google has made $1.5bn investments in renewables in 2014

This week’s travel carbon footprint: 0 kg CO2 – still no travel!

Mike Pitts

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