The Solar Impulse Foundation is running a 1000 solutions label as part of their movement for change. I asked Alexandra Barraquand, Solution Project Lead to tell me about the origins of the 1000 solutions and Bertrand Piccard’s vision for this project. 

The origin of the project finds its roots in the aftermaths of the flight that brought Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg around the world without fuel and over the Atlantic. The aeroplane has been a patchwork of green technologies demonstrating the potential of cleantech. Bertrand Piccard, the mastermind behind the whole project, wanted to apply the green solutions used in the air on Earth, and while doing so impacting the whole system and industry, including green tech. The implementation of some solutions encounters barriers and challenges: there are often regulatory barriers to prevent innovation from happening. For this reason, Bertrand Piccard decided to select and label 1000 solutions that are both clean and profitable (to bridge economy and ecology), and bring the portfolio to governments and key decision makers, encouraging them to create, change, push and move forward the regulations that can incentivise the implementation of the solutions. The portfolio will present concrete examples and cases to show that solutions are available. This is what we are trying to do.  

Any Member of the World Alliance can submit a solution to apply for the label. World Alliance membership conditions only require you to be a legal entity sharing the same value as the Foundation and to register to create a profile on the World Alliance webpage. We consider only solutions that are at a certain level of maturity, since, to push regulations, we have to rely on concrete examples that allow governments to see the impact that prototypes or already commercialised solutions, currently blocked by regulations, could have on the environment and the economy. Therefore, any solution that is eligible for the Label should be at least at the stage of having a proof of concept prototype, at scale, in a laboratory environment, and in preparation to have a prototype in the real world. It corresponds to a TRL 6 or 7. Then, it has to be a product, a process, or a service, and comply with the criteria requirements regarding Technological Feasibility, Environmental and Socio-economic Benefits, and Economic Profitability. 

 

How can people get involved with the World Alliance? How do people submit solutions? 

Members have to log-in on the World Alliance account: here they will find an online form to fill in that can be changed and improved for one month. There are eight stages in the process. All the information needed from the expert and for the assessment are on the online submission form: some information will be private and some public. Private information can be visited by the experts that are going to assess the solution; the public will be used to promote the solution once it is labelled. When members officially submit the solutions, the World Alliance solution team reviews all the files: we read everything that comes in, we give tips for improvement, and we ask members to change and add some elements and key-data on their file. In this way, we give members the opportunity to improve their submission form, increasing the chance for the solution to be considered by the expert as fulfilling the criteria.  

 

What message is the label trying to convey? 

We consider our label to be a kind of pre-screening before due diligence, rather than a certification of green-light for investment. The message behind this label is that it is possible to bridge the gap between ecology and economy, by bringing together protection of the environment and financial viability to show that these solutions are not expensive fixes to problems, but rather opportunities for clean economic growth. It also has a strong communication aspect: the goal is to highlight solutions that could be implemented, as a response to a logic of combining environmental benefits with economic profit to help them undertake their regulatory challenges. This is the message behind the Label. The 1000 Efficient Solutions Portfolio, will be made of the first 1000 labelled solutions, it will not be a ranking and we plan on going on labelling solutions after the count of 1000 is reached.

 

Read the full Q&A in the latest edition of Impact Innovators – produced in collaboration with Knowledge4Innovation.