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Creating Impact at Scale at the 2016 Future of Innovation Summit

ThinkPlace, Stanford ChangeLabs and the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences are working on a new field: Scaled Innovation for Complex Systems. This field combines systems thinking, design thinking, innovation and behavioural insights. Leaders in this field from ThinkPlace, Stanford and Harvard co-organised the 5th annual Future of Innovation Summit, held 23-26 August 2016 at the Rockefeller Centre, Bellagio, Italy. This event provided global innovation leaders with the opportunity to apply innovation at scale to the complex development challenge of the Sustainable Development Goals.

In 2015, The United Nations General Assembly endorsed the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030. There are 17 goals to transform our world, goals which are comprehensive and integrated. If achieved, there would be radical improvements in the quality of life and the environment for all people. However, without careful design, improvements in one area (for example food production) could see a reduction in another (for example land degradation).

The 2016 Future of Innovation Summit provided the platform for eighteen recognised innovation leaders from academia, the United Nations, foundations, international organisations and practitioners, to discuss barriers to achieving the SDGs and the types of action required. Summit participants concluded the SDGs will only be implemented and create lasting global impact with radical changes to methodology. Implementing these goals requires applying innovation at scale using design and innovation methods and skills, an understanding of complex systems, as well as mass engagement and implementation on local, national, regional and global levels. 

ThinkPlace was represented at the summit by Founding Partner John Body and Principal and Global Innovation Lead Dr David Ireland. The summit identified a number of initiatives going forward including projects to clarify the methodology to achieve the goals, the establishment of a network of SDG Labs to support the design and implementation of programs to meet the SDGs, and work with several United Nations agencies to identify accelerator issues - issues that can simultaneously drive rapid change across a number of SDGs.

The summit marked the start of an exciting program of work that includes future summits to progress the development of methodologies and programs to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.  The organisers of the Summit extend particular thanks to the Rockefeller Centre who provided the venue and excellent location for the event.

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David Ireland
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John Body