Kicking off #UNLEASHLAB2017 with 900+ SDG talents

During this week, 900+ SDG talents from around the world joined #UNLEASHLAB2017 in order to solve 7 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Leaderlab and Workz proudly worked alongside for the kick-off event on August 13th in Copenhagen.


In August 2017, the first UNLEASH event is held when talents from all over the world come to Denmark for nine days to create real, scalable solutions to the Sustainable Development Goals. UNLEASH is supported by a number of Danish and international companies, 15 Danish foundations and even more international foundations. As such, it has over 200 global partnerships with some of the world’s leading institutions, organizations and NGOs. The executive partners are Carlsberg Foundation, Dalberg, Danish Industry, Deloitte, the Folk High Schools and UNDP.

The goal is that UNLEASH will be an annual event that travels to a new country every year and develops new solutions to our SDGs. The plan is that next year’s UNLEASH will be held in Silicon Valley, then in Singapore, Mumbai and finally in New York in 2030.

Kick-offing of the SDGs

August 13th, the purpose of the day were to bring people together across nation, professional and personal background. The talents were then welcomed by Flemming Besenbacher, Chairman of UNLEASH and President for the Danish Governmental Circular Economy Advisory Board.

We then started the afternoon by doing an icebreaker in order to visualize the diversity and similarities of the talents. Next, we facilitated a case challenge that had the purpose of preparing the talents for the challenging week they had ahead of them. The 7 SDG tracks each had a challenge that various companies wanted the talents to solve. The cases where:

The kick-off became a huge success with lots of energy and enthusiasm in the room. We can’t wait to hear what solutions are presented during this weekend in Aarhus.

Global Call for Innovators in Design and Manufacturing for a Circular Economy

The LAUNCH Nordic Innovation Challenge 2017 is now open and we are seeking innovators around the world with the potential to create a shift in the way we design and manufacture for a circular and inclusive society. The goal of this challenge is to help accelerate these innovators’ businesses, so we are looking for innovations that are anywhere from pilot-stage to ready-for-market.

This year, LAUNCH Nordic invites up to 10 innovators to join a design revolution to help grow the circular economy. So this is your unique opportunity to join and gain access to the LAUNCH eco-system of industry pioneers, government, investors and previous innovators to collectively work to build and accelerate your innovation. This will include receiving personal mentoring and help to test, pilot and scale.

We urge innovators to apply as soon as possible, but final deadline for applications will be September 1, 2017. In October 2017 the top 10 innovations will be selected and participants will take part in this unique acceleration program. Submit your innovation via our website today.

At the World Circular Economy Forum (WCEF) in Helsinki on June 5th 2017, LAUNCH partners announced this year’s Innovation Challenge: Design & Manufacturing for a Circular Economy. As part of the announcement, we had a session together with Erik Zappalorto from Nesta and Erik Bang from H&M Foundation about how innovation challenges can help accelerate the circular economy. The room was filled with people who engaged themselves in the discussion and helped us spread the innovation challenge by nominating innovators and networks for us to spread the message. We are currently reaching out to these nominations and still searching for more in hopes of finding the most impactful innovations.

Please help us spread the message by following us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook and sharing our updates with your network. You are also welcome to email us at and receive further information on how to spread the message.

If you have questions about this year’s innovation challenge or know of an innovator that should apply please contact the LAUNCH Nordic team at



LAUNCH Nordic is a partnership between IKEA GroupNovozymesKvadratThe Danish Ministry of Foreign AffairsThe Danish Environmental Protection Agency and Region Skåne. LAUNCH Nordic seeks to accelerate the transition to a more sustainable society through open innovation, industry collaboration, and global systems mobilization. It was founded in 2014 in collaboration with LAUNCH, a strategic partnership between NIKE, NASA, The U.S. Department of State and The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), with the goal of harnessing the strengths of the Nordic region to accelerate innovation in sustainable materials.

Read more about LAUNCH Nordic at

Join the design revolution to enable Circular Economy

Imagine a world where every product was a service. A future of zero ownership. A future where all products were designed to last, to be reused, repaired and recycled keeping products and materials in the loop. It sounds amazing, right? This year LAUNCH invites up to 10 innovators to join a design revolution to help make Circular Economy a reality.

Cady Coleman

At the World Circular Economy Forum (WCEF) in Helsinki June 5th 2017, LAUNCH  partners will be announcing this year’s Innovation Challenge: Design & Manufacturing for a Circular Economy. We seek innovators globally with the potential to create a shift in the way we design and manufacture for a circular and inclusive society. We urge individuals, teams, start-ups and established companies and organisations to apply, and help us find the answers to this year’s challenge.

Joining us for the announcement of this years LAUNCH Innovation Challenge will be WCEF 2017 Keynote Speaker Dr. Cady Coleman, former NASA Astronaut and polymer chemist.

“Never before has international collaboration been more important to accelerate our transition to a more sustainable way of life on earth. I look forward to joining the World Circular Economy Forum in Helsinki to help connect businesses, governments, cities and innovators who are working to enable this transition”, says Dr. Cady Coleman, former NASA Astronaut.

This year LAUNCH offers up to 10 innovators the unique opportunity to join and get access to the LAUNCH network of industry pioneers, government, investors and previous innovators to collectively work to build and accelerate the innovations. This will include receiving personal mentoring and help to test, pilot and scale the innovations.

The LAUNCH partners look forward to this year’s innovators and their solutions and how they can help create new joint ventures and accelerate the circular economy even further:

Håkan Nordkvist IKEA opening

“At IKEA Group we want to play an active role in the transition to a circular economy. This year we are looking for innovators, disruptive ideas and fresh mindsets who can inspire the whole industry to design products and services for a circular economy”, says Håkan Nordkvist, Head of Sustainability Innovation, IKEA Group.

One critical component in enabling a Circular Economy is that we start designing and manufacturing products in new ways. If products are to last, reused, repaired and recycled we need to empower designers and manufacturers to make better choices regarding materials, binders, coating and manufacturing technologies:

“New design and manufacturing processes are critical to accelerate the transition to a Circular Economy. At Novozymes we look forward to work with and help innovators from around the world, who can help inspire and lead this transition”, says Claus Stig Pedersen, Head of Corporate Sustainability, Novozymes.

Vigga Svensson is a 2014 LAUNCH Nordic Innovator, who recently won the Design Design Award 2017 on best customer experience. Design is at the heart of her success and to this she says:

vigga svensson launch nordic

“To go from selling products to delivering a circular subscription service, you need to rethink how you design both the products, the customer journey and your service. I believe that rethinking design is at the heart of enabling Circular Economy and I hope that we see a lot of great innovators joining LAUNCH this year”, says Vigga Svensson, Founder, – LAUNCH Nordic Innovator 2014

Deadline for applications will be September 1, 2017. In October 2017 the top 10 innovations will be selected and participants will take part in a unique acceleration program that provides support, networking, and mentoring from influential businesses and government leaders.

“Circular Economy is on everybody’s lips these years. But action rather than talk and reports will drive the transition. That’s why I love working with pioneering partners and innovators through LAUNCH. I look forward to hosting this years LAUNCH Forum at Kvadrat in November where we will meet with the selected innovators and help them go to scale”, says Anders Byriel, CEO, Kvadrat

This year’s LAUNCH Innovation Challenge on Design & Manufacturing for Circular Economy will be announced June 5th at 15.00 (CET) at the WCEF in Helsinki (Finlandia Hall) and online at

Contact information

Download this press release as PDF – Press release LAUNCH Innovation Challenge 2017 For more information about LAUNCH or this year’s Innovation Challenges please contact Sofus Midtgaard, LAUNCH Nordic: +45 30220111 – or

For more about the participating LAUNCH partners and innovators please contact:
IKEA Group: Corporate Communications – +46 (0)72 886 57 81 or
Novozymes: Rene Tronborg:
Kvadrat: Alice Rasmussen: +45 8953 1862 or Peter R. Svensson:+45 22665595 or

LAUNCH was founded in 2009 as a strategic partnership between NASA, NIKE, Inc., the US Department of State, and the US Agency for International Development. LAUNCH identifies and supports visionaries whose ideas, technologies, or programs have the potential to create a better world. Through a series of meetings, events, and an annual forum, LAUNCH has successfully introduced innovations that are solving urgent challenges facing our society today.

Since its founding, LAUNCH has attracted numerous additional strategic partners and supporters. In 2016, LAUNCH ran multiple challenges focusing on Food, Smarter Chemistry and on Closing the Loop.

LAUNCH Nordic is a partnership between IKEA Group, Novozymes, Kvadrat, Vinnova, The Capital Region of Denmark, Region Skåne, The Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Danish Ministry of the Environment, and Malmö Stad.
Read more about LAUNCH Nordic at


SUSTAINABLE BUILD er klar med årets 8 innovatører

Kommer robotter og open-source teknologi til at revolutionere bæredygtigt byggeri? Otte bæredygtige innovationer, står klar til at møde topfolk fra hele den danske byggebranche for at få rådgivning og sparring til, hvordan de skal komme ind på markedet og revolutionere branchen.

Over to dage, d. 31. maj og 1. juni, skal otte udvalgte innovatører vise deres løsninger frem foran et panel af bygherrer, arkitekter, producenter, investorer og andre kompetente topfolk fra den danske byggebranche. Det sker til arrangementet Accelerator Forum, hvor alle involverede skal bidrage til at revolutionere branchen og skabe vækst inden for bæredygtigt byggeri. De to dage er kulminationen på årets arbejde i projektet SUSTAINABLE BUILD. Målet er at øge genanvendelsen af materialer, komponenter og bygninger samt styrke vækst inden for bæredygtigt byggeri:

“Dansk design og byggeri er kendt for høj kvalitet og stærke kompetencer inden for miljø og bæredygtighed. Styrkes denne position yderligere, så står danske virksomheder endnu stærkere i den internationale konkurrence og kan gøre sig gældende på det voksende globale marked for bæredygtige produkter og løsninger i byggeriet,” siger Mads Lebech, adm. direktør i Industriens Fond, der har støttet SUSTAINABLE BUILD med næsten seks millioner kroner i forbindelse med fondens særlige tema om bæredygtig produktion.

Stærkt innovatørfelt

De otte udvalgte innovatører kommer med alt fra robotter, som sænker brugen af beton i byggeriet, til digitale platforme, som sammenligner byggerier og produkters bæredygtighed. De er udvalgt fra et bredt ansøgerfelt med ansøgninger fra 11 forskellige lande. Fire af de udvalgte innovatører er danske, tre er hollandske og en er britisk. Sidstnævnte er WikiHouse, som er et open source bygningssystem:

”WikiHouse er et open source-projekt, der er rettet mod at genopfinde den måde, vi bygger i dag. Vi har skabt en platform, hvor arkitekter, designere, ingeniører, opfindere, producenter og bygherrer sammen kan være med til at skabe nye bæredygtige og effektive byggestandarder. Løsningerne er til rådighed for alle, og målet er, at de skal blive til nye industristandarder og være med til at forbedre byggeprocesser universalt”, siger Alastair Parvin, der er grundlægger af WikiHouse.

En anden af årets innovatører er danske Odico, som arbejder med at reducere mængden af ressourcer ved at optimere måden, hvorpå vi fremstiller bygningskonstruktioner:

”Vi har udviklet en robotstyret fremstillingsmetode til at lave betonkonstruktioner, der er mere end 15 gange hurtigere end eksisterende produktionsmetoder. Hvis metoden bliver anvendt, vil CO2-belastningen blive kraftigt reduceret”, siger Anders Bundsgaard, CEO, Odico.

Mød alle otte Sustainable Build 2017 innovatører her

Til Accelerator Forum får innovatørerne faglig sparring fra eksperter og beslutningstagere på tværs af byggeriets værdikæde. For innovatørerne handler det om at få hjælp til at skalere deres innovation, få deres første pilotprojekt og få skabt samarbejder med SUSTAINABLE BUILDs partnere:

”Det har været fantastisk at stifte bekendtskab med den nytænkning og innovationskraft, der spirer frem i byggesektoren, og jeg glæder mig til den videre proces. Det er et stærkt et felt af innovatører, der er udvalgt, og deres løsninger skal ud og bruges på byggepladserne. Jeg drømmer om at vi de kommende år får bygget nogle flere fyrtårnprojekter, der kan inspirere nationalt og internationalt. Med dette års nye innovatører i SUSTAINABLE BUILD får vi udvidet mulighedsfeltet”, siger Signe Kongebro, partner og chef for bæredygtighed hos Henning Larsen Architects.

”Der skal i de kommende år bygges rigtig mange nye boliger og bofællesskaber til unge, børnefamilier og ældre i nærheden af de større byer. Vi er, som pensionsselskab, altid interesseret i, hvordan man kan få skabt og forenet livskvalitet og bæredygtighed med kommercielt attraktive projekter”, siger Torben Möger Pedersen, adm. direktør, Pension Danmark.

Innovationerne får både hjælp fra store og små aktører fra branchen, der selv har erfaring med at bryde igennem med nye innovationer som mindre virksomheder:

”Som iværksætter kender vi selv til de udfordringer, der kan være for at bryde igennem med nye løsninger og idéer i en stor branche. I SUSTAINABLE BUILD får innovatørerne mulighed for både at få rådgivning fra større aktører og kan høste af vores erfaringer med markedet som iværksættere. Samtidig får vi mulighed for at få indblik i nye danske og internationale løsninger, der er med til at gentænke branchen og skabe nye bæredygtige løsninger”, siger Flemming Werk, COO, Advance Nonwoven.

 Bæredygtigt byggeri skal løftes på tværs af branchen

Det er netop behovet for nye løsninger og samarbejder på tværs af branchen, der har fået Industriens Fond til at samle aktørerne i SUSTAINABLE BUILD. For at kunne løse de udfordringer, byggebranchen står overfor og føre byggeriet i en mere bæredygtig retning, må branchen være fælles om udviklingen:

”Der er brug for modige og kreative mennesker, der tør udfordre og gentænke vores måde at producere og forbruge på. I SUSTAINABLE BUILD bliver der bygget vigtige broer mellem det nye og det etablerede. Opfindere og mindre virksomheder får mulighed for at præsentere nye produkter og processer for etablerede virksomheder, og byggebranchen får input til at forny deres virksomhed – til gavn for forretningen og miljøet”, siger Bent Hansen, regionsformand, Region Midtjylland

”En af hjørnestenene i SUSTAINABLE BUILD er, at hele branchen er samlet under samme tag. Arkitekter, designere, leverandører, entreprenører, kunder og investorer er med, og der er både etablerede aktører og mindre nystartede virksomheder i blandt. Byggeriets bæredygtige udvikling skal løftes i flok, på tværs af værdikæden og med både store og små aktører, og i SUSTAINABLE BUILD ser vi, hvordan det netop bærer frugt for branchen” siger Kent Matinussen, adm. direktør i Dansk Arkitektur Center, om projektet, der både har deltagelse af virksomheder som Abeo, Connovate og Frøslev Træ, men også større aktører som Henning Larsen Architects, NCC, PensionDanmark, Region Midtjylland og Tarkett.

SUSTAINABLE BUILD samler over 30 forskellige aktører til udvikling og skalering af nye løsninger inden for byggeriet. Accelerator Forum, der afholdes på Godsbanen i Århus, er kulminationen af foreløbigt to års arbejde, hvor partnerne både er med til at skalere de udvalgte innovatører og selv udvikler nye løsninger på nogle af byggeriets centrale udfordringer.


Collaboration and partnerships play a critical role when companies, governments and cities wish to drive sustainable growth. But establishing and running partnerships is a new leadership dicipline. Leaderlab Founder & Managing Partner Sofus Midtgaard was in Istanbul this week to give a keynote on the topic.

In a 2015 survey by MIT Sloan Management Review, The Boston Consulting Group and the United Nations Global Compact, 90% of executives state that collaboration is important to address sustainability challenges while only 47% are actively engaged in sustainability collaboration and partnerships.

Over the last five years partnerships to drive sustainable growth have become increasingly important. Systemic challenges – i.e. unaware investors, disengaged citizens, lack of enabling policy or introduction of new standards throughout a supply chain – are all issues that no-one company can address on its own.

With the Sustainable Development Goals it was outlined that multi-stakeholder partnerships are fundamentally necessary and should encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships.

Paul Polman

“When you look at any issue, such as food or water scarcity, it is very clear that no individual institution, government or company can provide the solution”

Poul Polman, CEO, UNILEVER

Collaboration and partnerships play a critical role in addressing systemic barriers, driving collaborative innovation and sharing risk. But like most complex projects, partnerships have a failure rate of about 50 % (Harvard Business Review, 2004). Here are 10 rules for successful sustainability partnerships that will help you avoid the most common pitfalls and help you build partnerships that last and will drive change.

Cyrus Wadia opening Summit Nike HQ

Cyrus Wadia opening Summit Nike HQ

”These are massive problems of scale. they are going to require an ecosystem of thinkers and solvers and creative minds.”

Cyrus Wadia, VP, Nike


Haakan Nordkvist, IKEA opening the LAUNCH Circular Innovation Summit at Nike HQ

Håkan Nordkvist, Head of Sustainability Innovation IKEA Group.

“Collaboration can bring great results, for example we work closely with Nike to pioneer new techniques for textile dyeing that dramatically reduce the use of water, energy and chemicals”

Håkan Nordkvist, Head of Sustainability Innovation, IKEA Group


Here are the slides from the presentation:



10 Rules for Sustainability Partnerships




Partnerships should make you able to achieve something you can not achieve on your own. Partnerships should never be the parking lot for difficult CSR-agendas better solved alone


sweet-spot2. FIND THE SWEET SPOT

Senior leadership support might give you a head start – but unless you find a sweet spot for the participating managers you will fail. Make sure to find a sweet spot/overlap between core strategic priorities of the partners.




Many stakeholders often result in cluttered goals and reporting. Agree on a moonshot, or at least set a few but ambitious goals, that will aspire people for change.



No partnership can run on money alone. Only by leaning in you will harvest the real benefits of a partnership.





You can prepare, make strategies and plans – but in the end it always comes down to people. A partnership needs champions who would die in a ditch for what the partnership is trying to achieve.





If a partnership is strategic, staff it like it is strategic! Include people from relevant business units – not just the CSR department.




Unconventional partners will bring new perspectives and spur innovation. Watch out for the usual suspects when forming partnerships.




Some of the most effective partnerships are the ones that map, connect and embrace existing initiatives – rather than conquer them. This is especially true when it comes to systemic challenges.



Even a focused partnership with few and clear goals will produce unexpected value for partners. Be open for surprises and calibrate your measures of success.




You can achieve amazing things if you are able to step back and let other people step into the limelight.


Haakan Nordkvist, IKEA ad Cyrus Wadia, Nike

Haakan Nordkvist, IKEA and Cyrus Wadia, Nike on stage at LAUNCH CIRCULAR INNOVATION SUMMIT, March 2017.

Up to 50% of all partnerships fail to deliver value and are terminated before time (HBR, 2004). Try to think about these 10 rules in relation to your existing partnerships or next time you consider entering a new partnership.

If you have reflections or suggestions to this list please feel free to contact us.  If you need help shaping a new partnership, mapping potential partners or focusing and energizing an existing partnership, do not hesitate on contact us:

Sofus Midtgaard, Managing Partner & Toke Sabroe, Partner, Leaderlab.


Let us help you drive transformational change!