20.06.2019  |  Strategi & ledelse

New tool helps small businesses connect with the SDGs

Developing and testing a new SDG-tool as part of her thesis in sustainable design engineering, Josefine Lange Strandgaard made the goals more tangible for participating companies. And she nearly won a tech award.

Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) find it more difficult to implement SDGs than larger firms. Recent statistics from Dansk Erhverv  clearly shows this, they also make it clear that to get small companies on board, new offers and services are needed.

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A need for further support
As part of a master’s thesis in Design and Innovation at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Josefine Lange Strandgaard recently developed and tested an SDG Assessment Tool.

This was done in collaboration with United Nations Development Program Nordic (UNDP) and Monitor Deloitte in connection with the SDG Accelerator project, where participating companies tested the tool.

The tool is designed to support SMEs in understanding and prioritising their actions in implementing the SDGs into strategy. The key is to make the SDGs relevant for businesses, in a more simple and straightforward way.

The test shows that the small firms generally find it complex for the business to assess and have an overview of the SDGs relevant for business. When using this new tool, however, the understanding and decision-making was made more intuitive and tangible.

Make it relevant for business
Learnings from the SDG Accelerator has shown that when involving SMEs in SDG implementation, the focus should not be on risk and compliance, but on the business opportunity the SDGs can provide and suggest that implementation will take place through an innovation journey.

To make the SDGs relevant for these companies, the tool developed aims to support the company in the process of assessing the SDGs that will potentially have the highest impact, both in terms of achieving the SDGs and sustainable business opportunity. The tool uses generic filters and questions, as well as a language better suited to a business environment. For example,  instead of using the 169 SDG targets, the tool applies 43 “Impact areas” which cover the SDG areas in relation to business.

How it works

This SDG Assessment Tool is an online assessment in a survey-based format, where the user is guided through the assessment one question at a time.

The tool supports the first step in an innovation journey: the scan and selection of future innovation opportunities. The immediate next step is the ideation and goal setting, before moving into project development.

The scope of this tool, however, is the identification of potential opportunities for a company. At this point in time, the tool is still in a early development phase. Currently in progress of building partnerships for further development and implementation.

If you are interested in learning more about and perhaps testing the tool where you work, please do not hesitate to reach out.

With this focus on business language and mind-set, the emphasis is on the companies drive for innovation and business opportunities. Adding a sustainability mindset can open new doors for the company’s ability to innovate and set businesses off on a new innovation journey.

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When doing that, however, choosing the right project into which you put your energy is essential for the impact outcome. To open this understanding of challenges and opportunities, there is a need for a structured understanding of how the firm can interact with the SDGs.

Working to build a future for the tool
At this point in time, the tool is still in an early development phase and exists as a prototype only. Josefine Lange Strandgaard is currently in the process of building partnerships for further development and implementation.

To the extent that publicity and awareness raising helps such endeavours, Josefine Lange Strandgaard was recently helped by a nomination and place in the finals at the SDG Tech Awards in the category “Research”. She was, however, overtaken on the home stretch by Århus University’s autonomous mini-ship equipped for collecting data for climate research.

If you are interested in learning more about and perhaps testing the tool at your workplace, please do not hesitate to reach out to Josefine Lange Strandgaard. (josefinestrandgaard@gmail.com)

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