From Coast to Coast: A journey through Inclusive Business Leadership
This month, we are very excited to hear from Majda Dabaghi, Director of Inclusive and Green Growth at the world’s largest business organization – the International Chamber of Commerce. She shares her story and her perspectives on climate, inclusive business and driving impact through innovation across all sizes and sectors of business.
Q:Majda, could you tell us a little about yourself and your journey so far?
A: I grew up in Ottawa, Canada, where living in harmony with nature is simply a way of life. We are surrounded by the great outdoors and, with that, comes a respect for what nature has to offer and a sense of responsibility to help preserve it. I grew up biking everywhere, skating on the Ottawa canal (the world’s largest skating rink and best way to commute!); cross-country skiing in winter; canoeing and kayaking in summer.
Some of my early memories of my sustainability journey also connect to nature, from my first Earth Day to a speech about the Ozone layer that I presented in front of the whole school at age 10 or 11. At 15, my family moved west to the ski resort town of Whistler and I had the fortune to continue to be surrounded by majestic natural beauty – this time endless mountain ranges and the Pacific Ocean – and to learn about our relationship with the natural world from First Nations communities.
After deciding to become a lawyer and completing my legal training, I moved to London, England, where I focused my corporate law practice on renewable energies – and even helped to develop a solar energy intranet portal in my first year. When it was time for a change after a decade working with corporate law, it seemed like a natural evolution to lead the environmental portfolio at the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). ICC is the institutional representative of 45 million companies in over 100 countries and among many activities, leads engagements towards many key international processes, including the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
As Director of Inclusive & Green Growth at ICC, I bring together my knowledge of both business and the environment to convene private sector input into international policy discussions, and help drive sustainable and inclusive economic growth. I feel privileged to represent business at the highest levels of international negotiations, including as official UNFCCC Focal Point for Business and Industry, and to be able to demonstrate what business can bring to help achieve our collective environmental goals.
What’s clear is that Climate Action is Everyone’s Business and, at ICC, we are helping to support companies of all sizes, sectors and geographies to “future-proof” their business.
Most recently, I worked to launch the SME Climate Hub to support small and medium size enterprises to “future proof” their businesses – and build resilience in the face of increased climate risk, which has already been recognised by key Global Corporates, including Unilever, Ikea and Nestlé.
Q:ICC has been at the forefront of business engagement with key decision makers on a range of issues linked to “Green Growth” for many years – with a special focus on the SDGs, including Climate Change and Biodiversity. Where do you see business adding the most value to those processes?
A: ICC played a key role in providing practical business inputs to help deliver the Paris Climate Agreement and in shaping the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We work continually with our network of companies – representing all sectors and sizes– and with a diverse range of partners to ensure that that these types of issue areas form part of a dialogue and process that works with – and for- business. ICC also recognises and promotes the defining, central role that the private sector plays around the world in promoting sustainable development.
We believe that action from all stakeholders is vital to meeting the challenges and opportunities of the SDGs. In particular, business is a key partner to help develop and implement concrete solutions, but also to help instil in governments the confidence they need to increase their ambition and champion policies that will ensure we achieve our collective goals. The need for meaningful collaboration cannot be overstated.
Q: This is a key year to help deliver on the promise of the Paris Agreement. How can business get involved in the lead up to COP26 in Glasgow later this year?
A: ICC recognises the urgent need to keep the global temperature increase below 1.5° Celsius. The science is clear – if we are to avoid the worst effects of climate change and achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, we must cut emissions in half by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Yet, the most recent UN synthesis report shows that we are not collectively on track to meet this goal. We still have time to act, but it will require a coordinated global effort by all stakeholders – including businesses of every size, sector, and geography.
We have seen a significant increase in the number of companies around the world putting climate at the heart of their operations. In the last year alone, the number of companies that have committed to achieving net-zero by 2050 has doubled through the UN Race To Zero initiative. Net Zero by 2050 has become the new north star to stay in the game. Similarly, we are seeing more companies committed to taking action on biodiversity as can be illustrated through ICC’s partner platform Business for Nature.
We know that climate change and biodiversity collapse will have far more devastating effects on the world and the real economy than the current pandemic, which means every business and business organisation should be taking action to reach net zero by 2050 and to address biodiversity loss.
If the global Covid-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is that building resilience is vital for businesses, communities and global economies to survive and thrive in the face of future threats and opportunities, and that work starts now.
Q: It has become ever more apparent in recent years that the role of value and supply chains as well as Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) is essential to driving positive social and environmental impacts and to innovation. As the leading force behind the SME Climate Hub, could you share some of the thinking that is driving that initiative, and how it is progressing?
A: An incredible 90 per cent of business worldwide is driven by small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), and they employ over two billion people. SMEs are truly the lifeblood of our shared, global economy – and yet on many levels they have been left out of climate action initiatives to date – leaving them deprived of the tools and resources needed to ensure resilience in the face of growing climate risk.
One of the most pressing existential threats to SMEs is climate change, and with 40% to 60% of small businesses never reopening after a natural disaster – such as hurricanes, flood or drought – curbing carbon emissions and building business resilience has never been so important.
About SME Climate Hub
The SME Climate Hub is a global platform that provides a one-stop-shop for SMEs to: make an internationally recognised climate commitment to halve emissions by 2030 and reach net zero emission by no later than 2050. It features practical tools and resources to help business curb their emissions and unlock valuable incentives.
SMEs that take part will not only better manage climate risk, they will also position themselves to become more attractive to a broad range of important stakeholders: customers who are increasingly climate conscious; the thousands of multinationals – including Novozymes – with decarbonisation plans that are increasingly making climate action a procurement criteria; and to the growing number of lenders and investors now addressing climate-related issues directly.
Q: The Month of March recognises and celebrates international Women’s’ Day and this years’ theme is; “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.” How do you see the role of women in leadership roles and positions impacting the Climate, Sustainability and Innovation discourse for Business as we seek to “Build Back Better”?
A: People may be surprised to learn that women are often disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change. Given women’s roles as primary caregivers and providers of water, food and energy across the globe, women are more vulnerable to severe weather events such as floods or droughts. Recent figures from the UN show that 80% of people displaced by climate change are women and girls.
If women are not at the proverbial table making decisions – especially those that exacerbate existing inequalities such as climate change – we, as a society, will not be in a position to squarely and adequately address those challenges. And the outcome of that will be a global community that is poorer, both financially and socially.
Women have led sustainability efforts at home, in their communities and internationally for decades. Back in my home country of Canada, when taking office, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked why his first Cabinet was Inclusive and Gender balanced. He replied; “Because its 2015”. Today, in 2021, economic, social, and environmental goals in the post-COVID-19 world will not be achieved without meaningful participation by all genders.
Q: What would be your closing thoughts for us?
A: Achieving a better, balanced future has never been more important – not just for biodiversity, or climate or the environment – but for business and society as a whole. When I reflect on how far I’ve come – from that young girl at school looking to champion environmental causes, to working with international businesses every day to lead global change on climate and environment – I feel a tremendous sense of pride. It’s been a humbling and inspiring journey as I’ve contributed to help support gender equality, powered by women’s leadership and played a small role in helping to preserve our natural world. And now, I’m excited and committed to continue moving forward, making sure that I help to inspire others to make gender, diversity and inclusion, and the SDGs key elements of every goal for a resilient rebuild – our global challenges are, after all, interconnected.
Zahid Torres-Rahman Co-Founder and CEO,Business Fights Poverty Business Fights Poverty has taken an active lead in promoting radical collaborative innovation…
MEET THE HELLOSCIENCE TEAM – JONATHAN
Hi, I’m Jonathan, it’s a pleasure to connect with you.
Since my early teenage years, my interests have revolved around the sustainability agenda. For me, sustainability is rooted in the question of how we as humans can have a balanced relationship with nature, something I term as “The Good Life 2.0”. In its essence, I am driven by the quest to explore the opportunities through which we may enrich our lives, while simultaneously respecting planetary boundaries.
In 2006, I had my first real encounter with climate change when trekking across the Fox Glacier in New Zealand. The colossal mass of ice had shrunk significantly, and the evidence was right there in front of me. A local ecosystem out of balance. It made a permanent impression on me to witness first-hand the complex, interdependent relationship between our societal actions and global climate change.
The environmental crisis should lead to empathy, not apathy. Recently, I was inspired by the book “If We Act Now”, where some brilliant journalists detailed that the immense task of mitigating climate change is feasible and affordable. As the title suggests, we can be optimistic about meeting the 1.5 degree target of the Paris Agreement if we pull the best of our abilities together. It’s about changing old habits for the better. I think the pandemic has exemplified to many of us how important the natural world is to our well-being and that systemic change is actually within our reach.
After becoming a political scientist and having worked with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Environment of Denmark, I have seen sustainability rise to the top of the agenda of business leaders and decision-makers around the globe. It is apparent however, that organizations and government, not alone, but in unison, possess the skills to accelerate climate action – just as the authors of the book suggested.
That’s what really excites me about the HelloScience commnunity. That while we are rapidly approaching the climate tipping points, HelloScience can be a leading framework to building a sustainable future. Thanks to its collaborative approach, we can brings the best and the brightest minds from the private sector together with start-ups to create innovative, technological solutions. Solutions that will benefit citizens and enable us to live better lives in concert with our fragile biosphere.
I sincerely look forward to experiencing the ingenuity of the community and see how we can stand on the shoulders of each other. The best is yet to come.
HelloScience’s coder in residence Jens Ahrengot has been busy creating new collaborative tools for us that will be announced just…
ECOSYSTEM UPDATE – Nordetect Moving Forward!
Copenhagen-based Nordetect is an analytical hardware company that produces Lab-on-a-chip devices for environmental and agricultural analysis. With Nordetect, farm managers, agricultural service providers, and indoor growers can remove risk and use valid data that is easy to understand and implement to ensure richer harvests.
This month for our HelloScience Ecosystem update we check-in with Nordetect, who has just closed a $1.5 Million USD seed investment round. Congratulations and best of luck to the Nordetect team! You can read more on TechCrunch and AgFunderNews. CEO and co-Founder Keenan Pinto brings us up to date.
Q: It’s been an exciting year for Nordetect – could you give us a brief update on your journey over the last year?
A: 2020 was an interesting year as we shifted gears to focus on indoor farming as our go-to market segment for our nutrient analysis product. Soil analysis is still an important application and we plan to work on it through partnerships with local stakeholders in target markets, but for now, our focus is on indoor.
Q: Could you briefly explain Nordetect’s Lab-on-a-Chip Technology and why it is an important and impactful innovation?
A: Our product allows growers to monitor their water quality and optimize the use of nutrients. This prevents unnecessary wastage of these chemicals and reduces the burden on wastewater treatment plants. Beyond this, we are working on new applications that are aimed at food safety.
Q: Nordetect has just closed a $1.5M seed investment round – what do you hope to achieve through the new investments, particularly in terms of scale and impact?
A: The new funding allows us to make the necessary investments in process automation to bolster our supply of the product as we tap into the exploding number of farmers turning to new technologies. We are very eager to now start scaling up the manufacturing of our Lab-on-a-chip consumables and deliver to our early customers.
What do you see as the biggest opportunities for collaboration and innovation in the AgTech space in the years ahead?
A: We are increasingly seeing larger corporations collaborating with startups through investments, co-development, distribution arrangements, and other similar activities.
Zahid Torres-Rahman Co-Founder and CEO,Business Fights Poverty Business Fights Poverty has taken an active lead in promoting radical collaborative innovation…
A Strong Foundation: Startups and Legal Insight from Kromann Reumert
What will the future of cleaning look like? That was the question discussed when the innovation platform HelloScience, Kromann Reumert and others explained their view on future cleaning needs in the wake of COVID-19 at the LiveLab event we hosted in November 2020. Kromann Reumert participated as legal ecosystem partner for the LiveLab challenge. As member of the panel, attorney Heela Lakanval addressed the challenges facing the entrepreneurs following the COVID-19 pandemic and the possible solutions.
“As a part of the HelloScience ecosystem, Kromann Reumert has a unique opportunity to influence and create a sustainable future and contribute indirectly to meeting some of the UN Global Goals. COVID-19 has made us look at cleaning in a new way. Now, it is not just a matter of cleaning in the traditional sense. It is also a matter of security and freedom. It was inspiring to see so many new sustainable cleaning solutions”, says Heela.
“As a lawyer, I provide advice and assistance to entrepreneurs. I outline the legal pitfalls which may come as a surprise to a start-up, focusing on the opportunities provided by the law rather than the limitations.”
Following the LiveLab Kromann Reumert met with SKOSH in a 1:1 meeting to answer some of the questions that could take SKOSH to the next step expanding their market to Europe. You can follow how this work is unfolding via the HelloScience Collaboration Space.
We develop and produce sustainable household cleaning solutions in the form of tablets and recycled plastic bottles. It is our…
Q&A with Jens Ahrengot: Update on HelloScience’s new features and infrastructure
HelloScience’s coder in residence Jens Ahrengot has been busy creating new collaborative tools for us that will be announced just after the New Year – however…as The HelloScience team can’t wait for 2021 to begin, we thought you should have a sneak peek of what’s in store.
2021 is not only about new features, it’s about building an infrastructure that will take the HelloScience platform to the next level. More social features, smarter user-centered algorithms and real time access to big pools of knowledge.
Jens Ahrengot Boddum is a Full-stack Developer. He is a software developer with over a decade of experience and has worked on a range of projects around the world, ranging from angel-funded startups to fortune 500’s. For the past 3 years he has been working on the 1.731.393 lines of code that keep helloscience.io running.
18 December , 2020
Q: It seems since your last update Jens that we’ve all gone digital! What have you been up to since the summer?
To recap, they were Track one: The Community Board, which was completed in July:
The way we approach designing, building and deploying new features is via an iterative process. You may have heard of a minimum viable product, but what we have done is to initially roll out a minimum lovable product — Something that does just enough to determine if you – our community – find the feature useful or not. And your feedback really matters!
Why? Because it enables us to continuously improve updates to those features until any rough edges have been smoothed out, leaving us with a result that supports you – and overall structure of the HelloScience platform. Anything built on strong foundations has lasting power and enables us to add more features in the future.
The Community Board will launch in 2021 on the HelloScience homepage. It allows you to reach out to everyone on HelloScience. You can post announcements, share knowledge and ask questions that will help you – and others – grow.
The Community Board is no different, and although its only been a few months we already have improvements scheduled for early 2021. Those improvements include faster load times and better mentions/tagging that will allow you to filter the posts/updates in whichever way is most relevant to you.
The next big update is track two.
The case pages that outline start-ups, projects and initiatives will receive a major revamp, focusing on utilizing our network graph to find the most relevant people and related cases, so it’s easier for you to connect the dots between everything that’s happening on helloscience.io
We’re also improving the tagging/mention feature in our comments throughout all of our comment sections, to make it easier to include the right people in the discussions taking place.
The Collaboration space centers around a specific case, but it opens up to other cases alike in ‘related cases’ and suggests potential collaborators in ‘suggested mentors’. The comment section is where the magic happens sharing your knowledge, asking questions or connecting with the team.
Next up, is track three.
As you know, I like to fix up old cars in my spare time, and with this update, we are really going “under the hood” and giving the engine running HelloScience a tune up. To get a touch geeky for a moment, we’re re-architecting the underlying infrastructure to support more social and real-time capabilities in 2021.
In simple terms, it means we’re moving more towards a more social platform where keeping track of conversations and partnerships become as frictionless as possible. This is related to the messaging system I touched on in my last update but it digs deeper than that.
We want to be able to integrate and engage with relevant platforms outside of helloscience.io in a way that’s easy to navigate but powerful in terms of the content available. We’re also expanding our network graphs, to envelop much more research and data than what is currently available today. To do that, we are starting by integrating with databases from universities and other relevant institutions.
Q: How do you think all these changes will improve HelloScience?
A: I think we’ll see a platform with much, much more content without becoming overwhelming. That is of course a big challenge to manage, but we’ve been planning ahead for quite a while now and with the infrastructure updates we should be all set to succeed.
I also think we’ll see a higher level of engagement between people, organizations and startups, given the new social features, which is really important.
Q: As a coder, why are you so excited about creating infrastructure for collaboration?
A: I feel the need… the need for speed! With updated infrastructure, so will be able to move much faster when pushing out new improvements and features.
Getting online collaboration right way, is a big and difficult task, but I believe very much in our team, and maybe even more importantly – in the people using our platform.
2021 will be a fantastic year!
Q&A with Henrik: From HelloScience LiveLab in 2019 to Lake clean-up in 2021
In the words of its Founder Poul Due Jensen; “the world is full of problems that can be solved in a better way.” Grundfos is a global water technology company committed to pioneering solutions to the world’s water and climate challenges and improving the quality of life for people. It has a strong focus on Purpose, Sustainability and Innovation.
As part of its relationship with HelloScience, Henrik Juul Nielsen, Director at Grundfos outlines the actions that Grundfos has taken in the last year to support lake clean-up and restoration in India – and why this is relevant to the organization as a whole.
18 December, 2020
Q: Henrik, can you tell us about your journey this year with the ‘Restoring Lakes in India‘ project?
A: Inspired by the HelloScience LiveLab around Jakkur Lake that we participated in back in early 2019, my colleague Marianne Knudsen and I developed a concept centered around cleaning up lakes in India. Later that year back in Grundfos’ Headquarters in Denmark, we pitched this and it was selected as one of two lighthouse initiatives for the company – from 200 proposed projects.
From the start we knew that we could only achieve real-world outcomes through collaboration with others. Thanks to our great team in India we entered into dialogue with Cognizant, one of the world’s leading professional service companies, and put together a collaborative coalition of stakeholders. This now includes the Indian chapter of The Nature Conservancy, one of the world’s largest conservation organizations, the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, and Chennai-based Care Earth Trust, a non-governmental organization that works in the area of biodiversity conservation. Read more here
What everybody has in common is the desire, drive and passion to make a difference, especially with something as fundamentally important as clean water and supporting ecosystems. During 2021, we expect to have completed the construction of an eco-friendly wastewater treatment system, walkways and green buffer zones along the lake.
And if you ask me what excites me the most about this project? Simply – the fact that we are just doing it!
There is a long list of potential projects in this space – including in India. Some get funded by the public, but they usually don’t make it that far. In this project Cognizant and Grundfos made sure that there is sufficient funding to deliver on the promise.
It is very important for me to mention that we are not saving the world, we are just helping to enable and supporting people who are already engaged, and making our own, specific contributions. But If we hadn’t have stepped up, we wouldn’t be seeing this happening.
Q: How did the HelloScience LiveLab in Bangalore back in 2019 spark this idea?
A: It was exciting for me to see with my own eyes how the local community and different stakeholders have managed to restore Jakkur Lake and create recreational areas around it, where the natural biodiversity can flourish.
I really liked the holistic way of thinking and the symbiotic relationship between municipality, small businesses and citizens. But it wasn’t just about cleaning the lake, it was about how the community and the environment benefits as a result.
„For me there’s no doubt that the value of those perspectives was a catalyst for future action and our lake clean-up work. If we had only been there in 2019 with Grundfos we wouldn’t have done it.“
The HelloScience LiveLab in 2019 at Jakkur Lake
Q: What are the next steps and how can HelloScience support your innovation journey?
A: Lake clean ups are needed in so many places globally. A lot are polluted in many different ways. Sometimes – sadly – there are cases where lakes are used as dumps for industrial waste.
We would love to use our current lake restoration project an inspiration and exploration activity for future sustainable business opportunities for our company.
To create a sustainable business around this starts with – most importantly – seeing these activities not as a donation, but as a business offering to do something significant by applying its know-how and solutions to meet the needs of local environments, economies and communities. It’s complex, because the benefits go out to so many different parties, but I’m ready to take on the challenge.
The most important question for me is how to create snowball effect on this. HelloScience can help support in accelerating the collaboration with startups and universities and potentially other corporate partners – and helping them visualize not just what’s possible in your mind – but also what can be achieved on the ground.
Revisit the HelloScience LiveLab at Jakkur Lake where it all started . . .
Q&A with llze: Perspectives on sustainability, business and collaboration from UN Foundation
Since its creation in 1998 by global news media pioneer Ted Turner, the UN Foundation has helped mobilize over US $2bn to solve and scale cross-sector Sustainability issues, including climate, health, gender, diversity and poverty eradication. Through its private-sector focused leadership group,
the Business Council for the United Nations (BCUN), the organization has long been at the forefront of working with leaders from a multitude of geographies, backgrounds and viewpoints. It has facilitated the sharing of best practices and real-life examples and worked with leaders across industries and sectors as they look to leverage their capabilities to inspire, nurture and scale innovative solutions to the complex issues that we as a global community are trying to tackle.
A long-time friend, mentor and supporter of HelloScience, Ilze Melngailis from the UN Foundation and BCUN, shares her thoughts and perspectives with us.
Ilze Melngailis, Senior Director, Business Council for the UN and Private Sector Engagement, UN Foundation:
Ilze Melngailis’ career has focused on applying business approaches to international development – accelerating gains in health, gender equality and poverty alleviation. She leads the Business Council for the UN (BCUN) and Private Sector Engagement at the United Nations Foundation, where she connects business with the UN and promotes companies’ participation in the UN’s historic Sustainable Development Goals.
She also develops innovative corporate partnerships with the UN and other partners that help elevate the impact of each sector’s ability to drive progress. Previously, Ilze has developed and overseen social marketing programs and public-private partnerships in over 30 developing and emerging-market countries through leadership positions at GBC Health where she was Vice President, Partnerships and Impact Initiatives, and prior roles at the USAID-funded ACQUIRE Project at EngenderHealth, International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), and consulting roles for the UN and other clients. A professional point of pride is having been the youngest-ever Executive Director of a global IPPF affiliate, when she founded and ran Latvia’s Association for Family Planning and Sexual Health, the first organization of its kind in the region following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
IIze earned her Bachelor’s degree at McGill University and a Master’s degree in Business Administration with academic distinction from Yale University School of Management.
18 December, 2020
Q: UN Foundation and BCUN and its core group of 30 or so Corporates are pioneering sustainability related approaches, from innovation to inclusion. How has that space evolved in the past few years?
A: This is definitely an exciting time to be working with companies because the most enlightened corporations are embedding sustainability into their corporate strategies and they are striving for transformational, not incremental change – it’s not enough to simply map existing ‘corporate responsibility’ activities to the SDGs.
In fact, Novozymes was the one of the first, if not the first, company to fully embrace the SDGs holistically and throughout the company – to do so was bold at the time but is now the gold standard for the most sophisticated and enlightened global multinationals. The shift underway in the financial sector toward investing in sustainable, purpose-led companies is a critical driving force toward (not away from) sustainability. This shift took hold in climate but is spreading now to areas ranging from anti-microbial resistance to diversity and inclusion. One of the ‘cutting edge’ challenges now is the need for transformational system change at tremendous speed and scale, but how to put that into practice is where we need to rapidly evolve new forms of innovation and collaboration and for everyone to stretch outside our comfort zones.
Q: UN Foundation and BCUN have worked alongside both Novozymes and HelloScience for several years now: What are the stand-out elements from HelloScience’s activities that most resonate with you?
A: Openness, scientific inquiry, creativity, collaboration, commitment, and passion are what stand out about HelloScience. Of course, at the UN Foundation and BCUN we were thrilled to see this investment grounded in solutions for the SDGs.
But beyond that I have been impressed by the open-source approach of HelloScience. The initiative is also bringing fresh thinking and new voices into the world of sustainability and global development. It has covered a lot of ground since its founding. Finally, it has a cheery and a bit cheeky culture – HelloScience stories exude the excitement of discovery which we need to sustain the energy and focus required to achieve the SDGs.
Q: As we end 2020, and look forward to “building back better” in 2021, from your long experience combining business approaches with international development, where do you see innovative corporate partnerships making the biggest positive impact?
A: The collaboration between competitors that emerged in response to the pandemic is intriguing and ideally will remain. Issue-based industry coalitions and cross-industry collaborations on climate, food systems etc. have the potential to drive truly transformative, widespread change – in both policy and practice.
We need nothing short of this in order to achieve the kind of impact the world expects on big complex issues such as climate change, global health and meaningfully tackling inequality. Insofar as we need to build back not only better, but differently – I will say perhaps provocatively, that at this juncture, many of us need to have the ‘courage to be second’, to find a way to foster adaptation of the most promising innovations and solutions regardless of the innovator, company or country that originated it.
Q&A with Rakesh: The vision behind JALODBUST and its mission to create positive impact
JALODBUST being demonstrated to colleagues during initial demonstrations during 2019.
JALODBUST: A life-changing startup
JALODBUST is a low cost and low maintenance, portable device that is designed to work as a sewage pump, agitator and declogger. Simple and robust, it can remove sludge from septic tanks, manholes or drains to clear domestic drainage, local sanitation systems or even clean up lakes. In India, many of these functions are carried out manually, impacting the health of sanitation workers, many of whom are at the bottom of the social pyramid.
A project founded by Rakesh Kasba, a civil engineer turned entrepreneur, we were fortunate to meet him back in 2019 as he began his journey to create a sustainable business with social impact.
Jalodbust received a HelloScience Microgrant and helped kickstart it journey in 2019. In 2020, they won several social innovation awards, and are now turning their efforts to meeting their next challenge – raising the necessary funds to scale up.
Rakesh Kasba explain JALODBUST when HelloScience first met him in 2019
18 December, 2020
Q:Dear Rakesh, tell us about JALODBUST. What has happened in the last few months?
A: Last few months have been interesting to say the least! Although we have received a lot in attention for the past year, due to COVID-19 we had to suspend our outdoor testing activities, and of course as a young start up the pandemic has also had a financial impact as well.
However, we did not let our enthusiasm die, and have kept building up contacts and interacting with partners and stakeholders across the sector. What has excited me most in the past year is the amount of positive recognition and attention that JALODBUST has received. This includes:
October 28th: Signing an agreement with Catapult Design to help produce the physical JALODBUST unit.
November 19th: The Smart-Bio-2020 Award from K-BITS (Best Social Enterprise/Institution), Government of Karnataka, India, presented by Deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka State. Read more
November 24th: Being shortlisted among the top-30 from 1000+ startups worldwide as part of the TIA (Together in action) challenge to change 1 Billion lives by 2030. Read more
November 26th: The ISC-FICCI (Indian Sanitation Coalition- Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry) award for ‘Best in category for Upliftment of Sanitation Workers’.
And a media feature on YourStory as part of efforts to liberate 2 Million workers handling fecal waste globally. Read more
I have to thank HelloScience.io and Alfred Birkegaard in particular for the continued support: HelloScience deserves a special reward as the 1st one to recognize and support JALODBUST.
And whilst the awards and recognition are great, what we want to do next is to secure the funding necessary that will enable JALODBUST to move to the next level and have the biggest positive impact – eradicating manual scavenging by sanitation workers.
Q: What are you most proud of and how has HelloScience helped you in your journey?
A: I am proud of being the person ‘chosen by destiny’ to be part of the mission to end manual scavenging. By education I am a civil engineer and spent many years working in HydroPower construction almost 3000 kms from where I live today. All that has changed now, and I working full time trying to find engineering solutions to the problems of sanitation – especially supporting the “bottom of the social pyramid”. You just need to look – just once – at an image of what I am talking about to understand the positive impact that this change will have on so many lives.
Photo by: Sharada Prasad CS Sanitation workers in the Manholes brimming with waste water and settled sludge at the bottom to manually unblock the clogged sewer line. At the bottom of the Social Pyramid in India are ‘Manual Scavengers’, who clean and clear drains and sewers, usually with no equipment or protective gear, and for very low wages. JALODBUST aims improve the lives of thousands of sanitation workers in India by deploying its solution.
Q: What are the next steps for JALODBUST?
A: HelloScience helped validate my thoughts and ideas and visualize them for others. This was done through video interviews and Social Media exposure, as well as providing me a microgrant to get started. That was a real game changer for me and was the starting point for the current JALODBUST journey.
Since then I have received a financial award from the ASME in the United States and a prototyping grant from SOCIAL ALPHA, India: But what needs to happen next is for JALODBUST to find and align with the right financial partner who can commit to the solution and support both its human and business value over the longer term. I believe that this partner is there, and I am open to any form of funding that can help – for example Grants, Philanthropic or Social Impact Funds, direct (equity) investment or loans. That funding will be used to:
1. Further enhance our current product design so that we are ready for and can scale up manufacturing
2. Deploy 1-2 vehicle-based JALODBUST units so that sanitation workers can be trained in the use and operation of the solution. From there we will also begin to work to develop entrepreneurial skill sets for those workers, for example setting up of Sanitation Entrepreneurships and create a self-sustaining economic model.
I am convinced that we can create ladders out of both poverty and some of the worst working conditions imaginable for our fellow human beings. I know that the HelloScience network is there to help and as been very helpful so far, and my resolve is as strong as ever.
If you would like to learn more or help, especially in helping us lift JALODBUST to the next level of development and impact, please contact me via my HelloScience profile here
Q&A with Aks2tal: Putting data to work through collaborative partnerships
Aks2tal is a company that produces and delivers environmentally friendly products, equipment and solutions to support a better indoor environment, with a specific focus on reduction of dust.
Company founder Allan Schmidt spoke to us about how they are looking to benefit from the building of an app to gather relevant data insights from all the variables they need to work with, and how they are looking to build on their recent participation at the HelloScience “LiveLab” on Sustainable Cleaning.
Q: Allan, tell us about your journey with HelloScience and your experience with the “Future of Cleaning“ LiveLab.
A: At the LiveLab, many competent and skilled companies from the hygiene and cleaning industry participated, and they came with a wide range of inspiration and knowledge.
The LiveLab was professional, there was control of the moderator and a redline throughout the process, despite the fact that it was new for many of us to do a presentation that could minimize the spread of Corona in 3 minutes via Skype – but we managed!.
All the material from HelloScience has been high quality and the follow-up has also exceeded my expectations. In terms of some concrete outcomes, not only were we introduced to both HelloScience through Forenede Service, (FS), which is a partner, but also Novozymes.
And with the ongoing focus on Covid-19, we are really excited that those conversations have turned into an initial pilot project with ourselves, ISS, Gladsaxe Municipality, Forenede Service and Novozymes. The aim is to use our App that we have developed to communicate, document and keep track on data that is generated when we put Novozymes probiotic cleaning solutions into a “real-world” environment.
Q: What excites you most about moving into real world problem solving?
A: Aks2tal can contribute with test methods and support fact-based implementation, as we have knowledge across different cleaning environments.
To succeed, it is important to forge ties between the world of research and the everyday lives of those user cleaning solutions. What has impressed and excited me the most is the sheer level of enthusiasm and high spirits of everyone involved and the “can-do” attitude they all bring.
Q: With the pilot testing you are now doing with your IoT App. Can you explain how it all works?
The aks2tal app’s purpose is to create a cost-effective solution to support indoor climate processes, based around documentation and data driven actions. This can be applied for quality assurance reporting for example by environmental organizations, for veterinary control or for labor inspection – or in schools, offices, nursing homes.
To support this, we have developed the following feature sets:
Since we work with dust reduction and cleaning, we have repeatedly experienced that floor washing machines that are not maintained, or cleaned will not function properly, or worse, not at all.
So we developed a simple visual error reporting system where anyone with the app can take pictures, describe and report errors which can then be discussed and resolved internally.
This solution is good for example if you work on 3 team shifts and there are only service people on one shift. So instead of spending a long time describing it in words, you can take a photo that you have no doubt about what the error is and categorize them more easily.
We have developed a simple checklist feature where you can create a template to automate the cleaning audit process. Here you can have your quality system, cleaning plan etc., and if you exceed the planned deadline, the user will be notified by email.
Cleaning log with stock:
Here, cleaning staff can help monitor and record the state of the area that has been cleaned, and informed by email on when a product reorder is needed so that the right amount of cleaning solution is used in relation to getting the optimal indoor climate.
This gives the opportunity to provide personal access to one or more departments, companies and the like. as required.
Sensor (IoT) data collection:
We have developed a set of sensors that can collect data on e.g. dust (pm10, / pm2.5), CO2, temperature and more to document the effect of applying a cleaning process or solution.
In addition, we can create reports that can be audited at weekly meetings and used as documentation to authorities and the like.
We are also currently working on a geofencing check-in system to document that, for example, the cleaning staff were at the location when they checked in, to create trust between customer and supplier. This creates an overview for a manager whose staff is out in many locations.
For all functions, you can have the app notify you if the function is not performed or if there is a limit value that is exceeded.
The app is structured in such a way that it is easy to work in, with a flat structure, you decide which levels to give access to. Here, both user and customer can follow to perform the task, so you can be at the forefront and remedy any problems before they arise.
When we put all these pieces together we effectively create an information ecosystem, and we hope that this will enable some great results for everyone participating – including seeing how Novozymes new probiotic cleaners perform.
Piloting with the Municipality of Gladsaxe
Gladsaxe is a part of the Greater Copenhagen area, and is one of the fastest growing and largest business areas in Denmark. It places a strong focus on sustainable growth and business possibilities linked to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The HelloScience “Future of Clean” LiveLab has helped bring together stakeholders in the area to help challenge what “Clean” means, creating new relationships and new opportunities.
Freja Ludvigsen, Chief Consultant of Gladsaxe Municipality updates us.
As a part of our build back better business strategy in Gladsaxe in response to COVID-19, we are focusing on the potential of innovation in the hygiene and cleaning industry. The impact of COVID-19 means there will be opportunities for new products and services that can bring people safely back to work and leisure without damaging the environment. Gladsaxe has some of the largest corporations in Denmark and as a business development manager for the Municipality I created a hub where we can explore new products and services together. We aim to combine the scale of large companies with the speed of the small startups. This has led to ISS Denmark, Berendsen, Forenede Service, Novozymes, MoveInnovation, Gladsaxe Intern Service and startups engaging in an open, confident dialogue on new business opportunities, and HelloScience has also participated.
At our first meeting in September we identified four lines of innovation:
Our first line of innovation is centered around Novozymes probiotic surface cleaners. We are currently co-designing an initial test in the headquarters of ISS Denmark, Forenede Service og Partneren in Gladsaxe that will be undertaken at the start of 2021. From a Gladsaxe Municipality perspective, I hope that this work support the development and deployment of new products and solutions for sustainable cleaning service that are affordable, safe, better for the environment, as well as those working in the cleaning industry.