After the success of the Environment Festival 2019, we are happy to share insights into the very first edition of ShiftIn’ 2020, the three-day event where innovation met sustainability.
Throughout this virtual event, hundreds of participants attended various fascinating online presentations, roundtables and discussions featuring international experts. From sustainability and innovation in entrepreneurship and education, to addressing the challenges coming out of the current pandemic, ShiftIn’ 2020 took its audience on a great road towards a more sustainable and innovative future.
Climate Change and Technology
For years, our planet has been facing all sorts of disasters and environmental changes. To overcome this requires businesses to adapt to new norms and adopt a more sustainable state of mind. But although there are many climate risks out there, there is also one climate opportunity.
“The big opportunity is change. We have made incredible progress over the past ten years. We’ve figured out clean energy, and now need to figure out how to store electricity. Progress has been made and now it is a matter of scaling it and ramping it up and deploying that clean electricity everywhere” – Professor Dr. Véronique Bugnion, Co-Founder & CEO, ClearlyEnergy and Adjunct Professor at Johns Hopkins University.
What can also support sustainable development is technology. According to Mateja Kramar, Senior Business Development Manager at Microsoft, “Technology helps to make stable environment by mitigating the effects of climate change. It can also help manage natural resources and enables to bring employment. It enables diversity and inclusion of people. Also, education brings technology to the world, just like in this event.”
Nonetheless, people and businesses need to remind themselves of the importance of our planet, and how they decide to treat it. “We should be looking at how we can really heal and regenerate our planet. There is no planet B. This is our only planet. And for that we have to become a part of this system of nature rather than wanting to dominate it.” – Professor Dr. Ana Grichting, Architect, Urbanist, Musician and Doctor of Design from Harvard University.
Collective innovation and entrepreneurship
When it comes to entrepreneurship, sustainability and innovation definitely play a big role. According to Edgar Barroso, Professor and Director of the Laboratory of Entrepreneurship and Transformation Tec de Monterrey, to become successful, businesses need to gather various talents that can bring something special to the table and come up with innovative and sustainable ideas. “We need to create relationships to make it happen!” – Edgar Barroso.
Gilytics Co-Founder, Heather Pace Clark, also recommends that future and current entrepreneurs attend networking events dedicated to entrepreneurship and innovation. It is a great opportunity to meet great and fascinating thinkers, and learn from them.
“More and more, sustainability is at the core of what these businesses are doing. There are different programs to follow to look at sustainability and how to integrate that into your business model.” – Heather Pace Clark
Overall, entrepreneurs need to work hand in hand, be patient, and think about the future.
“We are living a very strange moment in our lives. Crises open so many options for innovation. This is the moment for ideas, where we have to rethink education, rethink the economy, rethink how we are going to make a more sustainable planet, and where entrepreneurship comes into hand and entrepreneurs are now needed.” – Edgar Barroso
The Hospitality & Travel Industry Post-Pandemic
2020 has, without a doubt, been a shock for everyone, which has caused a lot of questioning and thinking from the global population and businesses alike.
“The pandemic has induced a global crisis; a crisis that has no borders, a crisis that impacted billions of people, our lives and economies, and the society that we live in. And, specifically, the impact on the hospitality and travel industry has been, of course, profound and is still unfolding in many of the regions in the world.” – Cassia Patel, Program Director at Oceanic Global.
Of course, this new era forces companies from all industries to rethink their strategy and business model. This applies to the travel and aviation industry, as mentioned by Andrew Charlton, Managing Director at Aviation Advocacy. “We need to go faster towards a new paradigm, reduce the aircraft and redefine business travel. Business travel will reduce to shorter trips. Holidays will become more local and regional. And as a result, a smaller, more refined aviation industry will emerge.”
Moreover, it is a human need to connect with one another, and therefore, this will lead to the comeback of travel, but in a more domestic manner. According to Karina O’Gorman “Human behavior does affect climate change, so people are wondering about their life choices. People will want to travel in a more sustainable way. A lot of things will change in terms of customer expectations to make it more sustainable.”
When it comes to the hospitality industry, thinking sustainable and being innovative are becoming part of the hotelier mindset, as there is a large demand coming from all generations, particularly the younger ones, to become more conscious about the environment and therefore, of the way hotels, alongside all businesses, operate.
“It’s about supply and demand. If people stop buying, something is wrong. It’s encouraging to see partners already giving a sign that they will give priority to hotels, or to suppliers providing an alternative. Hotels that will make the effort will win and see the benefits.” – Franck Droin, Hotel Manager at Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, Bangkok.
Of course, moving to sustainable services comes with a cost, and businesses need to find a way to stay financially sustainable. “It can never be expensive to do the right thing. Creating purpose is what is going to lead the change. We need to think simplicity because doing the simplest thing has the largest reach and is easier to adopt.” – Anuj Sharma, General Manager at W Hotel Maldives.
The Role of Education
There are no doubts that education plays an important role when it comes to the future of our world. But it is not only about academics and the theories that are taught. “Education is much more than knowledge. It’s also about enhancing the students’ critical thinking and how they are thinking to take action.” – Pablo Garcia, Director of the Les Roches Innovation Hub.
Therefore, the way we are approaching education is crucial in defining the skills and knowledge of the next generations.
“We have to really have a very collaborative approach with students, and we should be starting with, first of all, raising their self-awareness.” – Bilal Hassan, Senior Lecturer at Les Roches.
In that regard, and to support innovation and entrepreneurship, the University of Applied Sciences of Western Switzerland (HES SO) has decided to offer two different academic options to their students: Team Academy, a new Bachelor degree part of the HEG, and Business Experience, a final-year Bachelor option for tourism, business administration, engineering and informatics students. What do they have in common? They encourage students to become entrepreneurs, work in teams, develop soft-skills and learn by doing.
“We really want our students to experience what they learn. We are very dedicated to learning by doing. We offer the opportunity for students to try and become entrepreneurs.” – Blaise Crettol, Professor at HES SO.
Sustainability and Innovation for Everyone!
Throughout the event, and to follow our vision of supporting creative thinking and entrepreneurship, ShiftIn’ 2020 partnered with companies to offer students of various levels and countries the opportunity to participate in different competitions and workshops.
Higher education students were able to participate in two different challenges: the Omega European Masters Hackathon, a 24-hour challenge requesting participants to come up with an innovative idea that could be beneficial for the world-famous golf tournament and produce a video to share the concept, and the Lobster Ink Food Waste challenge for which the students had to submit a 300-word pitch to share their innovative idea on inducing behavioral change of F&B employees.
Of course, the aim of ShiftIn’ is to bring the community together. Therefore, we also invited local and international kindergarten and primary schools to participate in three different workshops with Earth Focus Foundation, Vision Art Festival and Plastic Free Campus. Our wonderful partners taught the next generation about the importance of keeping our planet safe for a better future by sensitizing them to food waste, technology and pollution.
Live painting done by Vision Arts during the roundtable lead by SunX Malta
Overall, the first edition of ShiftIn’ 2020 was a truly fulfilling one. We learnt from and shared knowledge with exceptional experts, and brought up great and innovative ideas from students. Let’s now shift to a new and more sustainable mindset together!
If you couldn’t make it to the live event, all the recordings of the masterclasses, keynotes and roundtables are available on our YouTube channel.