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PANEL 2: Scaling up innovations

Find out how to replicate eco innovative initiatives and what hotspots should be concentrated on

Why scaling up eco and social innovation is important?

The second day of the SwitchMed Programme focuses on pathways of scaling up eco and social innovations[1]. According to the World Bank definition, scaling-up means expanding, adapting and sustaining successful policies, programs and projects in different places and over time to reach a greater number of people. For the SwitchMed community, it is all about finding pathways to replicate and sustain what we are doing well. We like to explore these pathways that might look very different for different activities, for different sectors and countries.

[1] Eco-Innovation works through a new business strategy that incorporates sustainability throughout all business operations, based on life cycle thinking and involves partners across the value chain. By implementing a set of coordinated modifications to products (goods / services), processes, market approaches and organizational structures, eco-innovation enables the creation of novel solutions leading to enhanced sustainability performance and competitiveness (

Social innovation is a new solution (products, services, models, processes…) that should meet social needs and be able to lead to new or improved capabilities and relationships and better use of assets and resources, for benefit of people and planet.

What did we aim at?

The objectives of the sessions were:

  1. To discuss how scaling up of eco and social innovations in the Mediterranean is interpreted by various actors and what pathways they suggest to work on.
  2. To provide a base for the afternoon sessions, which will focus on various leverage points for scaling up.

what should happen to replicate eco innovative initiatives?

Moderated by Ms. Burcu Tunçer, Team leader of the SwitchMed networking facility hosted by SCP/RAC, Ms. Tunçer asked the panel what should happen to replicate eco innovative initiatives and what hotspots should be concentrated on. 

The panellists were:

M. Igor Volodin, senior advisor, UNIDO

M. Adonai Herrera-Martinez, senior manager in Turkey, Energy efficiency and climate change team, EBRD

M. Michael Spanos, managing director, Global Sustain

M. Bernard Outah, regional director for Africa and Middle East, World Fair Trade Organisation

M. Angel Versetti, Igniting Business Investment for Sustainable lifestyles (IBIS), project associate, World Resources Forum secretariat

How to scale up and replicate resource efficiency and sustainable manufacturing in general?

About scaling up sustainable manufacturing, M. Volodin recalled that SwitchMed has a good tool to do so which is the TEST approach (Transfer of Environmentally Sound Technology). TEST is a UNIDO flagship initiative funded by GEF in its first phase. He also highlighted access to finance as a key issue to be addressed for scaling up. In his experience, the financial means exist. However, the challenge is to make these funds available to green entrepreneurs, green SMEs and SMIs. The challenge resides also in building the SMEs capacities to help them make bankable business cases and actually be in a position to receive these funds. We should also look into creating the enabling conditions in the market for service providers to make the money available to them. To wrap up, to scale up sustainable manufacturing, we need more financing means, more financing schemes, more service providers to accompany green SMEs and SMIs and the market conditions to make it all happen.

"The challenge resides also in building the SMEs capacities to help them make bankable business cases" M Volodin, senior advisor, UNIDO

How to scale up access to finance?

M. Adonai Herrera-Martinez followed in this line about scaling up access to finance. For him, to scale up the access to finance, there is a need for fostering innovation in bank services, providing new value in a new way. This means that we need to think about finance in a completely different way. He also raised the need to support SMEs in accessing finance, building capacities on how to face the bank or how to make the best choice in terms of technology.

Supporting SMEs and thinking finance differently is something done by the EBRD, but they don’t stop there. They also engage governments to develop the policy framework to favour the ecosystem of green SMEs. Interesting examples are happening in Turkey, on renewable energy, energy efficiency and waste management.

 “We bridge the financing gap for green technologies in countries where the financing infrastructure for these technologies hasn’t been developed yet? Adonai Herrera-Martinez

How to build partnerships within the value chains for spreading eco innovations?

Ms. Tunçer asked M. Spanos about the way to scale up innovation via market links and partnerships with big businesses. M. Spanos explained that indeed big companies are taking on the challenge of sustainable consumption and production (SCP) and that partnership with and among big companies are explored. Great examples can be mentioned such as the Inditex Clevercare programme and the Akzonobel initiative to use waste streams as feedstock for chemical production. This shows that there are opportunities for big business in green and circular economy. One way to scale up these market links is to make a network of big companies with non-profit and policy maker to create awareness on SCP.

We also should make a clear link between the circular economy and Sustainable Development Goals for the big companies to make the business case for circular economy on the corporate agenda. Finally, he announces the upcoming publication of the Global sustain yearbook 2015/2016 in collaboration with SwitchMed and namely SCP/RAC.



M. Angel Versetti, from the World Resources Forum Secretariat, added on the topic of partnerships advocating for scaling up innovation via cross-sector partnerships. He specially highlighted the IBIS initiative, for Igniting Business Investment in Sustainable lifestyles, which provides funding and knowledge to sustainable businesses and investors. The initiative puts a special focus on how to connect sustainable businesses to investors. In order to replicate this success in business scaling up to other regions, an idea would be to bring the IBIS consortium to the Mediterranean region. However the main question to be asked is how to make the SCP business case profitable. To this end, IBIS communicates SCP investment offers, sets a regional framework to showcase successful business, find financing opportunities and brings the SCP knowledge to the banks. 



How to make it from the consumers' point of view?

M. Bernard Outah, from the World Fair Trade Organisation, looked at the scaling up challenge from the consumers’ point of view and thought of how to trigger the consumer pull. He notes that consumers in the North have put great pressure on businesses about sustainability and have asked for systems to be developed to back the choices they have to make. Moreover, M. Outah highlighted that there is a real challenge to provide the growing middle class in the South with green products, and that this is an opportunity for green SMEs that usually sell in the North to target the local market. SMEs will need however critical support in terms of capacity building, financing and building trust.



Let's continue the discussion

You can join and contribute the discussion on how to scale up eco and social innovations continuing in the session community here. In that community we encourage you to post your own reflections, experiences and questions. Keep engaging and shaping the content of SwitchMed Connect 2016.