Are we sending untapped power to the dumpyard?

If you had to take a guess, how many lithium-ion batteries do you think you have used in your life? “That’s a tough one; too many.” Okay, of all those batteries you’ve used, how many of those were completely depleted when you threw them away? “Obviously all of them! Why would I throw away batteries which still have power in them?!” Fair response. Let’s have a look at why such an obvious response, maybe isn’t so obvious and why there’s more to be addressed on this issue to make for a better tomorrow.

Co-founders Amrit Chandan and Carlton Cummins, have created Aceleron, a clean technology company based in the UK. The start-up came to life after their realisation that lithium-ion batteries are not typically designed to be completely depleted when they stop powering your appliances, due to unsafe leakages as a result of their (poor) design and nor are they designed to be maintained. Their use today and in the future must, therefore, be coupled with a means of tackling both the untapped power and its respective waste. Keeping sustainability in the forefront of their strategic thinking, they have come up with a range of battery pack products and services that have stirred up the energy market.

Their technology is built upon the idea that lithium-ion batteries sent to waste are not entirely depleted and better use of the technology can allow for up to 40% longer use than traditional lithium-ion batteries and importantly, allow for reusability. Using modular technology and innovative battery formations inside a battery pack, they have pioneered products which have multiple applications, all whilst remaining within the realms of sustainable development with their circular economy approach i.e. not for single use and then to the bin, like most batteries. Applications such as home energy storage, back up power for buildings and telecommunications are just a few examples of their far-reaching impact.

By coupling technology innovation and a sustainable mindset, Aceleron has created an alternative to the damaging impacts of single use batteries on our planet and so prove their progress towards SDG 7 Affordable and Clean Energy, in particular the target to increase the proportion of population with primary reliance on clean fuels and technology. Respect and gratitude to all the team at Aceleron for paving the way for a cleaner future! Check out Aceleron’s website to learn more and about why they’ve been shortlisted in the Top 10 for 2019 Telegraph Tech 4 Good Pioneers!

Links:

Aceleron Website
aceleronenergy.com

U4Society Network.

The idea of institutes of higher education actively working together is something we hear about often, yet exclusively, in specific fields of research, wherein there may be a need to collaborate based on required expertise or available facilities, but the U4Society Network takes a different approach.

U4Society Network is a European University Network of Ghent University (Belgium), University of Göttingen (Germany), University of Groningen (Netherlands), University of Tartu (Estonia), and Uppsala University (Sweden).

By just identifying themselves as partners for common goals, they set themselves apart from the majority of universities in Europe, and in the world for that matter. Further than this, through their action they promote the importance of partnership through the variety of values and principles the European universities are based on (see below for more details). These values and principles are not just for show either – they bear results. Powerful results. The network continues to produce ground breaking research and international impact through their partnership and it is inspiring to see this, as partnerships like these are what SDG 17 Partnerships for the Goals really refer to.

Mission
The first aim of the partnership is to provide a supportive platform for joint cooperative initiatives in the field of educationresearch and institutional management, as well as to offer a solid framework for cooperation as preferential partners in international projects and contexts.

Vision
The ambition of the U4Society Network is to strengthen the international position and visibility of the individual partner institutions through intensive cooperation.

The U4Society Network aims to broaden the partner universities’ educational offer, facilitate and enhance the U4Society students’ international experiences, strengthen the research output, and share knowledge  and pooling resources within the field of university management.

It further seeks to provide education based on the overarching European values and principles of human rights, openness, and democracy, actively promoting universities’ rights to autonomy, academic freedom, and sustainability, as well as strongly advocating the notion of European citizens.

U4Society Network

Sustainability is certainly one of the areas that the U4 Society Network focuses on and not just because of this, but also through their colourful fruit-bearing partnership, they embody SDG 4 Quality Education and one target in particular; ensuring that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development.

Another key feature, one that can often be taken for granted where it does exist, is the trust between the universities within the partnership and the open dialogue this facilitates between them. This trust is key to achieving true progress without the fear of losing out to a competitor, be it financially or as a matter of reputation. The network also prides itself on its unique governance shown in the diagram below, courtesy of the U4Society Network website. Each cluster is led by a particular university, but each institution is brought together as equals using the hub and spoke governance structure.

U4Society Network’s Governance Structure
Credit: u4network.eu

Learn more about the U4Society Network on their website and be inspired by the power of partnership!

Growing Health.

Sustain, an alliance for better food and farming, representing around 100 national public interest organisations working at international, national, regional and local levels, has partnered with Garden Organic, a charity that has built an increasingly massive community who believe that organic growing is a key driver for a healthy and sustainable world.

The output of their partnership is Growing Health, a UK national project promoting health and well-being by working with the UK’s health and social care services to use organic food regularly grown by communities across the country. Here’s a video from their site about one such project in Brighton.

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By giving the opportunity to grow their own food to different groups of people, such as those with mental health problems, physical impairments, long term conditions, learning difficulties and in recovery and rehabilitation, the project provides a means to exercise, addresses physical and mental health issues, encourages social interaction and skill development and provides access to fresh, locally produced fruit and vegetables. The inspiring yet effective nature of this project continues to attract more health and socal care providers to get involved and through its positive impact on these groups of people and on the health and social care providers, it embodies SDG 3, Good Health and Well-being.

The fruit and vegetables produced through the projects are then used by health and social care providers and the concept of sustainable produce, being grown by those who benefit most from the related activities, to then be used by health and social care providers, is one that is also in line with SDG 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities.

Growing Health is accessible to anyone in the UK and if you are interested in getting involved in this sustainably proactive project, check out their website. You can get involved either through taking part in the food growing and similar well-being activities or if you are aware of an audience that would benefit from such activities, you can present your proposal to the project team and if successful, they will support you with their wide ranging network to set up and deliver the impactful benefits to those who need it most.

So much admiration and respect for this project as it involves groups of people who don’t often get the privileges most take for granted, as well as doing this through developing a sustainable network of organic food growers and health and social care providers.

Links:

Growing Health Web Page
Sustainweb.org/growinghealth

Sustain Website
Sustainweb.org

Garden Organic Website
Gardenorganic.co.uk

MarinaTex.

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Lucy Hughes, a University of Sussex student, has created nothing short of disruption for the plastics industry. If it’s not already evident from the video, she has created a practical solution to one of the biggest sustainability challenges – plastic waste. Not only that, but through the use of the discarded fish skin and scales as a key ingredient for the bio-plastic, named MarinaTex she has addressed another massive problem; 50 million tonnes of waste produced globally by the fishing industry every year.

Protein Yield Infographic, JamesDysonAward.org

Plastic waste, and waste in general, is an inconceivably big problem. We are privy to the amount of waste we produce as individuals and maybe in the places where we work and maybe the cities we live in but in reality, nobody sees the entirety of waste that is produced globally. Even if you tried, you’d probably fail because there’s more waste in the place you checked 5 minutes ago. Net net – we need alternatives. Alternatives that are biodegradable and not degrading our environment. The plastics used to create the most environmentally damaging items like fishing gear, plastic bags, utensils, balloons, cigarette butts and bottle caps, are replaceable. Some are easier to replace than others and Lucy Hughes has given us one such alternative to single use plastic films and it is impressive, to say the very least.

Tying directly in with SDG 12 Responsible Consumption and Production and SDG 14 Life Below Water, the young Briton has produced a piece of work that experts in the field are equally inspired by. No wonder she has won the James Dyson International Award, as well as being recognised by the World Economic Forum, BBC, Reuters and more!

MarinaTex epitomises the type of innovation we need in order to achieve a sustainable future and so a huge thank you to Lucy for her innovative and inspiring work. The next steps for MarinaTex involve further research and development, with an aim to be in production by 2021 and what an exciting journey this will be. So many potential applications for bioplastics and so much potential for positive environmental impact as a result. Check out the website to learn more about why MarinaTex, and the young innovator behind it, is going to become the next big player in the fast-changing plastics industry.

Links:

MarinaTex.co.uk

Wimpact.

When you have spent months, even years setting aside a little bit of your paycheck to build up your savings, there comes a point when you start thinking about where to invest. If not one of the obvious investments like a new car or house, the arguably natural strategy (within your own realms of risk taking) is to invest in what will bring you the highest return on investment. Simple. Though, let’s just clarify that the ‘highest return on investment’ strategy, is pretty much always implicit in its reference to highest financial return.

cnbc.com

In our ever-changing world, the highest return on investment no longer needs to be defined solely as the highest financial return, but rather also its return in a sustainable development respect. Tangibly changing this definition is no easy feat, but Swiss company, Wimpact, has made their mission “to mobilise the private sector to accelerate the sustainability transition” with a vision of “a world where finance works for People and the Planet”.

Wimpact enables investors to identify sustainable investment portfolios in areas such as education, health, water and energy. They believe that public money alone will not do the job of acheiving a sustainable future and so capitalising on private money is essential to catalyse the work of those who work towards such a sustainable future.

Their platform makes it elegantly simple for potential investors to sign up and begin investing and such is their investment approach. They start by focusing on societial issues, identifying the companies working towards sustainble solutions for these issues and then financially analysing them, combining them with green bonds to build portfolios offering stability and performance.

It’s not often you hear about sustainability driven finance opportunties, with the two fields often acting more like oily water, but Wimpact are actively changing this by embodying SDG 8, Decent Work and Economic Growth, in particular target 8.4 stating there must be an “endeavour to decouple economic growth and environmental degradation”. The nature of Wimpact’s mission is challenging not only the status quo, but the one driver at the root of almost all action in the financial world – making more money; and making more money alone.

This is not to say that by investing in sustainable development you won’t make more money. It’s certainly not. In fact, it is quite the opposite with the sustainable sector growing faster than it ever has. Though, what is true, is that Wimpact are challenging the idea that investment portfolios need to be driven by financial gain alone – they give us the opportunity to also invest for change.

Admiration and gratitude for Wimpact – tackling the sustainability crisis on a different, yet all the more challenging front. Check them out to learn more about what they do and why they are exemplary in their progress for SDG 8, along with the exciting investment opportunities, exclusive to sustainable development.

CrowdJustice.

The thought of having to pay large sums of money for legal services, especially when you feel you have done no wrong or have had unavoidable circumstances, can be one the most demoralising feelings. There’s no substitute for strong legal support but access to this eludes many and so many are left feeling defeated by the justice system – a feeling nobody wants to experience. If only there was a way to change this. Cue: CrowdJustice.

CEO, Julia Salasky, set up Legl after leaving the UN with a mission to make the law work better for everyone. Their flaghip product, crowdfunding platform CrowdJustice, was set up in 2015 by a team of outstanding lawyers determined to make fundraising for legal issues no longer an obstacle for those who need it the most. On the platform you can decide whether you want to make your legal issue public or private, launch a campaign within 24 hours and then begin receiving funding from the public or a private group of people. It sounds so simple and that’s because it is.

The impact of Legl’s flagship product is not only evident through the £10 million they have raised in funding so far or the 80% funding success rate of over 500 campaigns, but also through its recognition within the Legal industry, winning the Technology Product of the Year (2019), by “The Lawyer”. Once you take a look at their success stories, it won’t take you long to see why they came first.

This company is one of a few companies that make tangible progress towards SDG 16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, and it is inspiring to see how many lives they have positively impacted through the funds compliantly raised on the platform and the ongoing legal support they give to those who run campaigns. Learn more about Crowdjustice and the team at Legl who make successful outcomes of the law more of a reality for those who need it most.

Hack Partners.

Industry Hackathons, Innovative Technology, Data Analytics and Strategic Advisory. That’s how the fast growing team at Hack Partners define what they do. When I hear the word hack, my mind thinks up some kind of conspiratorial plot to overthrow the good guy. But in this case, it’s quite the opposite. Hack Partners are an ambitious company that run events during which they come up with innovative solutions to industry problems, the railway industry in particular.

Last Year’s Hackathon

The reach of their impact spreads from the UK’s Network Rail to Hong Kong’s Mass Transit Railway and the beauty of their work? Speed. They work super fast during Hackathons, which they have sponsored by big industry players. During these events, they collaborate with indsutry experts, tech gurus and the right people to find the right solutions for the biggest problems in the industry. Figures from their website state 3000 tech and railway professionals have attended their HackTrain events in the last 3 years, 150 prototypes have been built over only 7 events and 7 regulations have been changed by the industry to make it easier for entrepreneurs to innovate – even from an outsider’s point of view, that is a staggering impact in such a short space of time.

Their ethos is to work together to “achieve common goals that benefit both industry and society” and it’s safe to say, given their impact, Hack Partners are actively pushing us closer to achieving SDG 9 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure and given the way they operate, they embody SDG 17 Partnerships for the Goals.

Check them out at hackpartners.com and see for yourself why they deserve huge respect!

Desolenator.

Youtube – Meet the Postcode Lotteries Green Challenge Finalists Desolenator

Anglo-Dutch company, Desolenator, has a philosophy “based on a desire to provide assured access to clean water in the toughest situations, whilst protecting the planet we depend on” (Desolenator.com).

By 2025 they aim to make 10 million more people water independent and their patented system uses solar power to treat and distil water types that are currently thought of as lost causes in their transformation into drinking water, like seawater, brackish water and heavy-metal contaminated water sources.

desolenator.com

Desolenator was one of the finalists in the Postcode Lotteries Green Challenge and it’s clear to see why. With a QUARTER of the GLOBAL POPULATION having no reliable access to clean drinking water, it is people like the team at Desolenator we must look to for tangible change.

They are working endlessly to achieve progress for SDG 6 Clean Water and Sanitation. Big respect for Desolenator – check them out and learn more about why they are real heroes fighting the battle on behalf of the billions who lack this basic right.

Links:

Desolenator Website
desolenator.com

The Creative Society.

Founded by Martin Bright, The Creative Society is an employment charity that works endlessly to drive their mission to aid the UK’s youth to develop and succeed in the creative and cultural sector. They adopt a particular focus to help young people who come from low socio-economic backgrounds and empowering them to achieve their full potential.

Since their launch in 2009, using their Creative Job Studio, a dedicated space for youngsters to network and meet potential employers, the charity has organised numerous local, regional and even national programmes to connect young people with the creative paths they desire.

One of the most impactful methods they employ to achieve their mission is the one-to-one mentorship they provide to aspiring youngsters over a 6 month period, calling upon industry experts and the bespoke coaching they need, in order to, not just get their creative juices flowing, but to turn this creative juice into a tangible skillset they can use to sustainably provide for themselves.

thecreativesociety.co.uk/Blogs/creative-society-lates

Other forms of the support provided include training, networking opportunities and their most recent launch, the Creative Society Lates, showcasing the society’s talent. “From film screenings, live music, to play readings and live art, the Lates are a chance for young people to try out new ideas to a live audience or to experiment with tried and tested work.” (thecreativesociety.co.uk)

The creative business network Martin and his team have built over the past decade has empowered countless of our youth to find their feet and go on to do great things. They host a number of events throughout the year, with their latest one, in October just gone, giving a special opportunity for youngsters to meet with artists from multiple disciplines face to face.

The Creative Society is a registered charity that has grown continuously as a result of its clear and actionable purpose, which embodies SDG 8 Decent Work and Growth. With their added focus on youth from low socio-economic backgrounds, and the progress that they have made in providing the right opportunities for the right people, they have taken praiseworthy strides to help alleviate youth unemployment in the creative sector and this is nothing short of inspiring – you can learn more about the details of their impact on their website.

If you like the sound of what you are reading and want to get involved, learn more about the support and opportunities available at the The Creative Society website, linked below – be sure to check it out!

Links:

The Creative Society Website
thecreativesociety.co.uk

Kytabu.

Kenyan startup, Kytabu, has changed the way students can learn in Kenya. Founder, Tonee Ndungu, has enabled teachers and students to have access to all the textbooks in the national curriculum on their mobiles or tablets. The material on the app consists of videos and audiobooks, which contrasts the typical in-house teaching methods in a more fun and engaging way.

Photo Credit: kytabu.com

You might think, “well surely this is an added expense for the less developed communities?” Well, you’d be wrong. School fees and associated costs, like up-to-date textbooks, in such communities are often too expensive for locals to continuously afford, especially in the poorer areas. Kytabu provides an affordable alternative, with all the content available to rent for the desired amount of time, on a pay as you go service.

Going further than just education material on the app, Kytabu also integrates with a school management system, Super School, which connects students’ grades and activities from Super School into the app and activities done on the app, including courses and assessments, into the Super School system. Learn more about Kytabu on their website, linked below.

Since it was launched in 2012, this groundbreaking business has significantly increased the number of children who have access to high quality education, particularly in the poorer areas of Kenya. Impact of this kind epitomises the progress required to achieve SDG 4, Quality Education, giving those who are less fortunate equality of opportunity and so, a huge thank you to Tonee Ndungu for not only challenging, but effectively changing the status quo!

Links:

Kytabu Website
kytabu.com