Enjoying EarthSky? Subscribe.

0 subscribers and counting ...

Henry Chesbrough’s Green Exchange website shares sustainable technologies

The idea of the Green Exchange is for companies to make their eco-friendly discoveries and inventions available to other companies.

Henry Chesbrough: The Green Exchange is an attempt to get technologies that are renewable and sustainable from the advanced, developed economies of the world, into the developing economies on the planet.

Henry Chesbrough is director of the Center for Open Innovation at University of California, Berkeley. He’s talking about the Green Exchange, a website in development that he says will enable the open exchange of environmentally-friendly technologies between businesses in developed countries and those in the developing world. He will be speaking at the Sustainable Brands Conference in June in Monterey, CA.

Henry Chesbrough: And it will help greenify – if that’s a word – those businesses sooner then they otherwise would have been.

Chesbrough said that many companies develop technologies that never find their way into products. He’s encouraging companies to share these ideas on the Green Exchange – so that businesses in developing countries can download and make use of them.

Henry Chesbrough: The main business impact and social impact I’m hoping to see from this are companies that are growing businesses in Indonesia, or India, or China, and are genuinely concerned about being environmentally friendly but don’t know where to get started and what to use.

Chesbrough hopes that exchanging green ideas throughout the world will create products which will have less of an impact on the global environment, and allow people to live more sustainable lives.

Henry Chesbrough: The Green Exchange is going to collect technologies and intellectual property onto a website that will be available to everybody.

Chesbrough explained that companies looking for green technology to use in their business could search the database of ideas, and then download the technologies. The companies that contribute the technology would be able to put certain stipulations on their ideas: If another company wanted to use the idea commercially, they might have to negotiate for a license, or the technology could only be used outside the original company’s industry.

Henry Chesbrough: An example of this would be Nike, which had a water-based adhesive in their footwear, to fix the sole of the shoe to the foot of the shoe. By doing this, they replaced a petrochemical-based adhesive that’s more toxic. So this is a much more environmentally-friendly technology. This is a technology Nike is going to put into the Green Exchange. By doing so, other companies wanting to use more environmentally-friendly adhesives in industries outside of footwear, they can use this technology for free or for a very modest license. So they can take ideas discovered by Nike and apply them much more broadly in other industries.

Chesbrough said while traditionally, some businesses might guard their own ideas from other companies, or feel hesitant to use ideas developed by other companies, he said there are many benefits to contributing technology to the Green Exchange. One reason, he said, is because a company’s suppliers are often located in developing countries like China and India – that may have difficulty getting access to environmentally-friendly technologies.

Henry Chesbrough: As companies get more pressure from consumers to be more green, this is a powerful enabling technology to get those best ideas all over the world into the hands of the people where this could be built at low cost and minimal impact on the environment, not only in the advanced economies, but also in the developing economies.

And he said that the sharing of ideas between businesses could mean better lives for everyone.

Henry Chesbrough: If we share knowledge we already have, we can continue to sustain a very prosperous and comfortable lifestyle and still have a greener planet.

Special thanks today to Sustainable Life Media.

Henry Chesbrough will be speaking at the 2010 Sustainable Brands Conference, June 7-10th in Monterey, California. Where the Sustainability & Brand & Design Communities Come Together to Build Brand Leadership.

Lindsay Patterson

MORE ARTICLES