Businesses working with young people to achieve the SDGs

16 October 2017
Author: Will Connolly

As we’ve heard over the past decade, cross-sector collaboration is important for international development results and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). When I attended UNLEASH in Denmark earlier this year, I was inspired by the innovative cross-sector collaboration I saw. 1,000 young people from 129 countries from a mix of the private sector, academia and NGOs, gathered for 10 days to develop and co-create 200 projects to achieve the SDGs. 

Through a process of competitive selection, problem framing, and business pitching, 200 ideas were shortlisted. The groups with the seven best solutions presented to a panel of experts in the final, won awards and potential for future funding. The Crown Princess Mary of Denmark and prime minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen attended the final day’s awards ceremony, in support of the change making innovation lab. 

Some notable business collaborations:

Carlsberg – helped execute the event through the leadership of Flemming Besenbacher, chairman of the Carlsberg Foundation, who led the charge on fundraising from foundation income, corporate partnerships and providing talent from Carlsberg Group.

Deloitte – was execution and lead innovation partner to the 2017 event. Deloitte utilised its core business skills and put forward their colleagues as mentors. 40 experts led four days of innovation labs, facilitating the solution process from idea, to prototyping, testing and presentations. Deloitte also put forward 12 talents to join the participants.   

Ramboll – among others put forward Gitte Gylling, a Ramboll engineer. With her international UNLEASH team, Gitte took home an award for Urban Sustainability for their smarter demolition idea – Demolition 4 Design. Ramboll donated 1 million DKK to the innovation lab, showing this as a priority area for their business. Ramboll offered 100 hours of mentoring and consulting over the next year to help bring the Best Prototype Award winner to market – whose idea is to make use of virtual reality to educate young people in developed countries on what it’s like to be a refugee.

Bestseller – put forward 11 hand-picked talents, hosted some of the events at their landmark BESTSELLER HQ in Denmark, and sponsored an award for a winning solution - earmarking their position as a globally minded, sustainable retailer. 

You can check out all the winning solutions here: https://unleash.org/news/winners-seven-sdg-themes-found

We at Bond are keen to develop meaningful, strategic partnerships with businesses to support our members and connect NGOs to the their expertise and funding. The UNLEASH concept is to have a global event each year, with new talent and partners leading to 2030. Do we want this to happen in UK with UK businesses and UK academic institutions? 

Check out our hub for more news and views on the SDGs.

About the author

Will Connolly
Bond

As head of business development, Will leads our partnerships and development with the private-sector; seeking new and dynamic ways to work with UK and international businesses.