Co-creation, collaboration and system change - thoughts from Torino

July 19, 2019

I have returned from at trip to Turin, Italy. Now I know what you are thinking: "Italy in July, the lucky sod". And, if I am honest I agree with you. But the trip did have a purpose, Koepala had been invited to take part in the European Social Innovation Competition (EUSIC). The competition for this year is to challenge plastic waste through social innovation. One of the benefits of being selected for the semi-final was the chance to take part in the EUSIC academy, which brought together 30 projects from across Europe; from Armenia to Portugal and everywhere in between. Imagine this 30 projects ran by some incredible, driven and determined people - all in one room, it is pretty inspiring really. Networking, idea sharing and having fun with these people got me thinking about what we can achieve when we come together, and pull our skills to create and design a more sustainable future.

There is relatively new concept in business called Co-creation. Co-creation can trace its routes back to two (rather nicely) business academics C.K. Prahalad and Venkat Ramaswamy. They defined the model as:

"The joint creation of value by the company and the customer; allowing the customer to co-construct the service experience to suit their context"

This idea of join creation of value is important to keep in mind as value to the company and the beneficiary may have a different meaning. Value to a company can be measure in purely financial sense, in reputation and in growth. Value to the beneficiary (consumer) can be measuring in choice, offering, flexibility, easy-of-use and time saved. Co-creation is a vital component to the business landscape as it can allow for a system change and for organisations to think outside the box and to see the world through the beneficiaries eyes.

Another angle to take on this is collaboration, which is the idea that two (or more) organisations come together to meet an end goal. Collaboration again is a vital component to any small, medium or large businesses. The idea of sharing resources, financial, technical or competency based should not be over looked - and if you want to view it from a more monetary and cynical stand point - it opens up new markets, increase brand recognition and can often create new revenue streams.

This is what I was considering during the few days in Turin. Although we see it everywhere. the sustainability industry is still relatively small, when compared to other behemoths. For example Royal Shell & BA have committed $2.8m to research petro-fuel alternatives. From companies who have combined 2018 revenue of c$700bn - paltry really. How can the sustainability industry seek to grow and expand when it is getting token cast offs.

One way is to come together to collaborate and co-create. Use the knowledge that has been accrued from markets, research, trial and error and share it. Don't sit on it - we are all working towards a deadline which is getting closer all the time. Like in Raiders of the Last Ark the walls are closing in from both sides - estimates on the tipping are getting shorter and shorter. The only way we are going to beat these worrying estimates is by pooling resource, seeing opportunities for growth. That is where events such as EUSIC are vital; they bring ideas together in a way that other networking events can't.

I hope that Koepala take home the final prize, but this will be secondary to the idea that from the challenge we can inspire and connect with other like minded organisations to drive real, meaningful change. Everyone, every company, entrepreneur, idea, project and journey needs support and encouragement. I hope that this is the real take away from our 3 days in Turin

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