Innovation for the 2030 Agenda

Collaboration. Systemic vision. Sustainability. Innovation. Future. These are the keywords of “Innovation for the 2030 Agenda”, the fourth edition of the Italian Business & SDGs Forum organised by the Global Compact Network Italy Foundation.

22 October 2019

140 participants, 60 companies, 11 non-profit organisations, 6 representatives of local and national institutions, 11 research centres and universities attending the fourth edition of the Italian Business & SDGs Forum, organised by the Global Compact Network Italy Foundation and hosted by the city of Trieste - European Capital of Science 2020. The aim: to analyse and bring forward points of view on how innovation can be a driver for contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

At the centre of the debate is the need for collaboration between companies of all sizes, the academic world and institutions, for a more effective match between supply and demand - of both financial and human resources-, for greater awareness and agility in a period of necessary transition - climate, industrial and cultural wise - and the importance of developing skills for jobs that do not yet exist. 
There are plenty of opportunities. Large amounts of capital in search of green investments. Positive correlation between diversity, innovation and profitability. New solutions to extract value from both waste and climate risk prevention. The prerequisite for seizing these opportunities is to innovate. 

Whether it’s radical change or small incremental steps, innovation is increasingly a vehicle for sustainability: has in itself the transformative force needed to respond to the challenges facing society. In particular, the focus of the working groups was on sustainable finance, resilience, inclusion and circular economy. 

For the second year we have supported the Forum and participated in the debate, also presenting the case of the Leonardo Drone Contest, an example of an approach to innovation that is nurtured through collaboration and contamination between the company and the academic world to encourage the development of new skills, in a combination of “enabling” technologies for the future: artificial intelligence, big data, computing capacity, machine learning, flight capability, computer vision and sensor fusion.

The benefit from this type of format is collective and shared. On the one hand, Leonardo has a strong and direct interest in growing its innovation ecosystem, from which future professionals and experts will emerge who are capable of overseeing technological frontiers, with applications ranging from sustainable mobility to air traffic safety, from surveillance and rescue missions to dialogue between piloted and autonomous systems. On the other, the academic world needs to address research into what is most useful to industry, allowing students to work on concrete projects - supported in this case by Leonardo engineers as tutors - and compete with other universities to test themselves.

There is only one condition for these benefits to materialise: working together to support the 2030 Agenda.