The business of tomorrow

Project Breakthrough
United States (New York)

What does the future of business look like? How will developments from big dataartificial intelligence and the internet of things to driverless vehicles3D printing and synthetic biology transform what’s possible in terms of longer-term system change? How are new disruptive technologies enabling more sustainable, collaborative and circular business models? What can leaders learn from the “anything-is-possible” approach among successful innovators?

While incremental change has its place, it is no longer remotely enough for what comes next. Market disruption is happening – and is likely to accelerate, offering huge new opportunities for those who can move fast, and in the right directions. While some may question whether business is part of the problem or the solution, corporate mindsets are shifting from less bad towards doing more good.

The world has set an ambitious and necessary agenda for 2030. All member states of the UN have committed themselves to solving the world’s biggest challenges within the next 15 years: ending global poverty, protecting our planet and ensuring a life of dignity for all. Fulfilling these ambitions calls for unprecedented collaboration and breakthrough innovation across all sectors in society – and business has a critical role to play. Companies are taking action to transform their business models to serve society and tap into new markets… but much more is needed.

Project Breakthrough showcases the innovations that have the potential to disrupt entire industries and enable outcomes as guided by the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. A collaboration between United Nations Global Compact and the future-focused Volans, the platform is setting a new direction for corporate sustainability and joining the dots between companies and exponential thinkers and innovators.

“If we are to make sense of this new century of ours, we must buckle up and break through  –  evolving new technologies, new business models and, most fundamentally of all, new mindsets,” says Volans Chairman and Chief Pollinator John Elkington. “Declaring intent is oh-so-easy. CEOs and other business leaders do it all the time. But delivering against declared pledges can be a very different matter.”

The constant buzz around developments in technology can make it challenging to identify those truly transforming our world. Whether from Silicon Valley, Berlin, Tokyo or Johannesburg, Project Breakthrough spotlights some of the most creative people on the planet and shares their thinking around exponential technology, organisations, change – and their take on how to facilitate both radical and sustained innovation.

‘Breakthrough Briefs’ focus on companies across the globe, from the UK’s WeFarm, the Internet for farmers without Internet, to Canada’s The Plastic Bank, who turns waste into currency, to Taiwan’s Miniwiz, who transforms trash into cash, to India’s Robin Hood of drugs.

Videos feature interviews with some of the world’s most exciting and impactful innovators.

► We break the ice with legendary mountaineer Rick Ridgeway AKA “The real Indiana Jones”, from Patagonia, and chat about risks and the uselessness of despair.

► We ask vegan mayo CEO Josh Tetrick of Hampton Creek which came first – scrambling the future of food or the eggless egg. Caution: food porn.

► Business leaders like Covestro CEO Patrick Thomas break down their company’s purpose and approach to breakthrough innovation. His “80 year startup” is making the world a brighter place by seeing carbon as a resource – and through driving a smarter use of materials in applications such as Solar Impulse.

►Moonshot CEO of XPRIZE Marcus Shingles has a trifecta for disruption – and recommends you “Uber yourself before you get Kodak-ed”.

The Project Breakthrough website content was produced by Atlas of the Future in partnership with United Nations Global Compact and Volans. It’s been a pleasure ‘doing business’ with you. 

Written by

Lisa Goldapple, Editor, Atlas of the Future (20 September 2016)

Project leader

United Nations Global Compact and Volans (Content Partner: Atlas of the Future)

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