Business schools are creating and facilitating spaces where the business community and the academic community can come together to discuss current issues as well as potential solutions to these issues. These collaborative spaces, whether they explore sustainability and the SDGs more broadly or focus in on specific industries or topics, bring benefits not just to the university and its students and researchers, but to the business community as well.
Here are a few examples of collaborative projects from Denmark, Iceland, Argentina and the USA.
Denmark: The Public-Private platform at Copenhagen Business School takes place yearly. Through a combination of interdisciplinary research, teaching and public engagement the platform aims to help mobilise, foster and develop society wide solutions to pressing matters of public concern. The goal of the platform is to initiate dialogue across the traditional divides between public and private, thus facilitating the creation of novel forms of diagnosis and intervention. Business leaders, politicians, managers and academics come together to exchange views and discuss approaches to specific problems with the aim of initiating collaborative programmes and discreet projects to explore novel solutions to these issues. The platform is engaged in several strategic partnerships, including with the Danish Ministry of the Environment.
Argentina: IAE’s Institutional Development Department invited companies from industrial sectors in Argentina to come to their School to share experiences and reflect on how to improve these sectors, without a specific research agenda. This approach expanded the range of companies and institutions contacted, opening the School doors to those that were not necessarily interested in participating in a specific research plan. The result was a new concept of “collaborative forums”, where companies and institutions gather at the School to discuss different topics and share experiences, slowly nurturing their relationships and exploring collaboration paths.
USA: Glasgow Caledonian University New York’s Fair Fashion Centre focuses on the business case for sustainability in the fashion industry in particular and building collaborations with, and between, key players in this industry. Part of their work has a been a series of ‘Town Hall’ events called Fashion Sharing Progress. These events gather leaders from various industries and organisations to offer different perspectives on sustainable development and help identify new solutions for the fashion and retail industry and beyond. This brings together academics, professionals and industry experts to facilitate new learning, which combines profitability with ethical environmental and social considerations. Leading names in the industry have participating in these events including representatives from Nike, Patagonia, the International Labour Organization, and eco-luxe labels. Through these events, companies are sharing the work that they are doing in sustainability with a wider community. For example, Warby Parker is transforming the lives of people around the world unable to afford glasses with their buy-a-pair, give-a-pair model. Levi Stauss & Co disccuss their work around water efficiency and their Water<Less collection, a collection of jeans that use up to 96% less water to create.
Iceland: Some universities host collaborative centres. For example Festa, the Icelandic Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, a non-profit organization founded by six Icelandic companies in 2011 is hosted by Reykjavik University. The mission of Festa is to be a knowledge center for CSR and promote the discussion on CSR in Iceland. In addition it supports companies in implementing CSR strategies and provides a network of companies who want to implement CSR, as well as cooperating with universities by promoting research and teaching of CSR. Founding companies are Rio Tinto Alcan, Íslandsbanki, Landsbankinn, Landsvirkjun, Síminn and Össur. New members include, ÁTVR, Ölgerðin brewery, Capacent, Arion Bank, Innovation Center Iceland, Reykjagarður, ISS Iceland, 112 Iceland and CCP games.