Why technology, innovation, and ecosystems are key for sustainable transformation

How can modern technology and cross-industry collaboration lay the foundation for a sustainable economy? In our latest virtual talk, we discussed the key challenges and opportunities of a sustainable future. Discover the key insights below.  

hands holding a growing plant
4 minutes to read

Sustainability will fundamentally transform how businesses operate internally and externally, how we develop technologies, and how we deal with societal expectations. In our virtual Zühlke talk "Ecosystems as Drivers for Sustainable Transformation," we addressed the central impact of technology, innovation, and ecosystems on a sustainable future. Mike Umiker, Managing Director of the Energy Efficiency Movement (ABB), Dr. Lucas Grob, CEO of Swiss Food Research, and Mario Schmuziger, Head of Industrial and Consumer Products EMEA at Zühlke, discussed how different industries can benefit from cooperation. Below are the key insights from the talk. 

If you would you like to dive deeper and watch the full recording – you can find it here (Video is in German only): 

‘The industrial sector is responsible for about one-third of all global emissions, having a massive impact on creating a sustainable future,’ said Mario Schmuziger from Zühlke. A survey, mentioned during the talk, revealed that many companies are still focused on reducing their Scope 1 and 2 emissions as direct and indirect outputs from energy production. ‘But it’s Scope 3 emissions, the indirect ones along the value chain, which offer a much higher potential for positive change,’ Schmuziger continued. Overall, the urgency for innovative and sustainable solutions is growing due to the constant pressure for companies to minimise their own footprint while simultaneously creating economic value. 

Portrait photo Mike Umiker, Managing Director of the Energy Efficiency Movement (ABB)
' Energy efficiency is not a 'if,' but a 'must' for a sustainable future. '
Mike Umiker
Managing Director of the Energy Efficiency Movement (ABB)

Technological innovations as drivers for sustainable transformation

‘Energy efficiency in particular is an indispensable part of sustainable industrial processes,’ said Mike Umiker. He illustrated this with a specific example. By using synchronous reluctance motors and frequency converters, a Swiss animal feed production facility was able to reduce energy consumption by over 50%. This not only had a massive impact on the ecological footprint but also brought immense cost savings. Such technological advances are not only relevant to the energy sector but also set standards for other sectors that strive for efficiency, like the industrial sector. ‘It is important that we think holistically and act across borders together, to learn from each other and fully leverage the potential of technology, innovation, and our ecosystems,’ said Dr. Lucas Grob. 

From theory to practice: an example from the food industry

Sustainability has long played a central role in the food industry, in part because of the growing pressure from consumers. The industry faces the challenge of integrating sustainability into all aspects of production. Dr. Lucas Grob also outlined an example of how successful sustainable transformation can be achieved in this space. With an innovative approach of minimal processing and fermentation, Yumame Foods managed to conserve resources and improve the taste and sustainability of the products. This example reflects a trend that could fundamentally transform the food industry by combining efficiency with consumer interests. What can other industries learn from this? 

Portrait photo Dr. Lucas Grob, CEO Swiss Food Research
' For a sustainable future, we must think about the day after tomorrow, today. '
Dr. Lucas Grob
CEO of Swiss Food Research

Cross-industry collaboration as driver for innovation

A central theme of the talk was the importance of cross-industry collaboration and the following questions: 

  • What can companies and industries learn from each other? 
  • How do they create new ecosystems that enable a sustainable and profitable future? 

To these points, Mike Umiker emphasised that ‘collaboration between companies, governments, and non-governmental organisations is essential to effectively address complex challenges like CO2 reduction.’ An example of this is the Energy Efficiency Movement, which was founded by ABB and serves as a platform to share best practices and scale innovative solutions that go beyond individual industry boundaries. ‘These networks and ecosystems, such as the Sustainability Circle created by Zühlke, are a central factor and driver of sustainable transformation,’ confirmed Mario Schmuziger. 

' We cannot achieve sustainable transformation alone; it requires collaboration and holistic thinking. '
Mario Schmuziger
Head of Industrial and Consumer Products EMEA Zühlke

ROI in focus: interaction and direct dialogue promote sustainable and profitable solutions

The talk, and especially the questions from the participants, have once again shown that direct exchange is essential for understanding and further developing sustainability strategies. Questions about the practical implementation of energy efficiency measures or the integration of sustainability into existing business models showed that there is not only a desire for, but also a need for information on practical solutions. Plus, that economically viable solutions are necessary to anchor sustainability in the industrial sector and other areas. ‘Because when it comes to sustainability, the question is always, is the end product capable of bearing the costs of innovation?’ confirmed Dr. Lucas Grob. 

At its core, discussions have shown that sustainability must and will fundamentally change our economy and society. Yet, sustainable transformation can’t be achieved in isolation. Sustainability is not an isolated goal but must be deeply embedded in the strategic considerations of companies. The outlined examples and strategies show that with the right ecosystem, it is possible for companies to implement sustainable practices and benefit economically. 

Do you have questions about the talk or specific elements of your sustainability journey? Please feel free to contact us at any time. 

Contact person for Switzerland

Mario Schmuziger

Regional Managing Director ICP EMEA & Member of the Regional Executive Team & Partner
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