Supporting companies to become more sustainable through innovation is a key dimension of Luxinnovation’s strategy. For many companies, this requires finding and implementing the right innovative products, services, solutions and technologies. With its proven methodology used for a range of previous ecosystem mappings as a starting point, the agency decided to map the sustainability enablers in Luxembourg – a task that proved to be far from easy.

Mohamed Toumi, Luxinnovation“When we started this work, we realised that very little analytical work had been done in this field in Europe,” says Senior Market Intelligence Analyst Mohamed Toumi, one of the authors of the mapping. “There was no clear definition of what a sustainability enabler is, or what topics we had to cover.”

The mapping does not only include environmental enablers but also financing providers and HR consultants that can help with equality and inclusion aspects, for example.

A first step was therefore to develop a sustainability framework that identified in what areas business executives can innovate to make their companies more sustainable, based on the three fundamental pillars of sustainable development: planet, people and prosperity. “We also defined the term ‘sustainability enabler’ as a public or private entity that has at least one legal entity registered in Luxembourg, and which provides solutions, products and services allowing other companies to become more sustainable in one or several business functions,” explains Market Intelligence Analyst Julie Gaspar. “The mapping does not only include environmental enablers but also financing providers and HR consultants that can help with equality and inclusion aspects, for example.”

Innovation: a wide term

Sustainability enabler mappingThe team also needed to define innovation in this context. “For this work, we used a broad understanding of what innovation is. In a nutshell, we take into account everything that is new to the company in question,” Mr Toumi points out. “In a very small company, it can mean starting to recycle. In another, it can mean adopting very advanced technological solutions to optimise the use of resources.”

Initially, the team intended to focus on technological innovation only, but quickly realised that in order to meet the needs of the ecosystem, a wider approach that would also include other types of product and service providers was needed. “We also saw that innovation for sustainability is often done ‘by proxy’ through the adoption of digital technologies. These technologies might not be sustainable solutions as such, but when used in the right context, they considerably increase companies’ level of sustainability.”

The sustainability enabler mapping now covers seven types of sustainability enablers, including consultants, certification organisations, investors and institutional enablers just as well as technology providers and research and testing centres. They can be viewed according to sustainability topics, key technologies, targeted markets and geographical location.

Sustainability enabler catalogue

With the view to provide concrete support to companies, Luxinnovation also decided to publish the list of companies covered by the mapping as well as brief information about their specific focus. “We want to provide the specific knowledge on to whom companies can turn to find the solution or expertise they need,” says Mr Toumi. “This first version of the mapping lists over 400 sustainability enablers. Businesses might be surprised by the wide range of skills and solutions that are available here in Luxembourg.”

We want to provide the specific knowledge on to whom companies can turn to find the solution or expertise they need.

The mapping is also a useful tool for Luxinnovation’s Sustainability Innovation Hub. “One example is that it will feed into the Fit 4 Sustainability programme,” he explains. “Once the actions to be implemented in each participating company have been defined, it can be used to find relevant, concrete solutions. Our objective is both to promote existing national expertise in the field of sustainable transition, and to assess gaps in the ecosystem.”

Sustainability enabler mapping: work in progress

Julie Gaspar, LuxinnovationA wide range of sources have been used to identify the sustainability enablers. “We have looked at specialised associations and federations, specialised press, company directories, corporate databases, company websites and events,” says Ms Gaspar. “We have of course also relied on the extensive knowledge of the Luxinnovation team. Each company has been reviewed by the Market Intelligence team and our internal sector experts who helped us determine whether it should be included in the mapping or not, and in what categories it should be listed. We only include enablers that target companies, and have omitted those whose services are addressed to individual households.”

We want to keep the mapping alive and derive as much value as possible from the collected data.

She underlines that the mapping is still work in progress. “We will continue to complete and consolidate the mapping in the coming months. We are well aware that it is not yet completely exhaustive. We invite anyone who has suggestions about relevant additional companies to contact us. We are also happy to be informed in case businesses think that they have been listed in the wrong category or would like to update their brief descriptions.”

The Market Intelligence team is also looking into further analyses to be done using the data from the mapping. “We want to keep the mapping alive and derive as much value as possible from the collected data,” Mr Toumi concludes.

Illustration: © Luxinnovation
Photo credits: ©Luxinnovation/Marion Dessard, 
© Luxinnovation

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