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This year marks the 5th year of our Sustainability Launchpad in collaboration with UCD Engineering and the Energy Institute.

We have more teams than ever this year thanks to the massive uptake of the programme. Over 60 engineering masters students are working together, to challenge the ordinary and tackle the problems of the future; ranging from food sustainability to energy generation. These students are working alongside our industry partners; applying design thinking principles, researching, and exploring potential opportunities to help bring change to their industry.

We are delighted to have partnered with the Bee Sanctuary of Ireland, Mainstream Renewables, IWEA, Evocco, and GridBeyond this year to create scalable, sustainable business models to positively impact our environment, and our society.

Our seven teams will focus on the some of the most critical issues facing the world over the next decade:

1.       SuperNode – Mainstream Renewables proposed problem to economically and efficiently deliver renewable energy (wind/solar) globally from source locations to load centres.

2.       Catalyst 1 – UpThink is looking to solve the problem to scale companies faster and source funding through a new Sustainability fund to execute more rapidly. Currently companies in the ‘sustainability’ sector lack the funds and capabilities to execute at scale.

3.       IWEA – Community investment models to promote wind energy developments

4.       KidMedTech – The lack of child-suitable biomedical devices on the market

5.       Evocco – Aligning environmental/ethical beliefs with how we shop

6.       GridBeyond – Opportunity for smart trading, energy optimisation, and predictive maintenance within the energy sector

7.       The Bee Sanctuary – Bringing awareness to the masses of the imminent risk of losing bees to extinction

To date, our teams have completed ideation sessions, refined their value proposition, and researched emerging trends/market leaders in their industry. They have been giving short pitches every week on the work they have done and how their idea has changed based on validating/invalidating hypotheses and challenging their assumptions. The teams have been working really well with their industry partners; it’s great to see so much collaborative co-creation going on in the room. The teams are made up of people from a multitude of backgrounds, cultures and nationalities, and this brings a global perspective to the team when analysing these problems.

Over the next 8 weeks we will be looking at the dynamics of a successful team, how to pitch effectively, developing a revenue model, and much more. But for the coming week our teams will be focused on competitor and stakeholder analysis. They will be developing detailed maps of existing competitors; who they are, what they do, and where the opportunity lies, as well as thinking about who the stakeholders are for their business/idea. This is often an eye-opening activity for many teams; will the opportunity lie in the market as they expected? Or will an opportunity exist at all?

We’ll be blogging all the way through our Sustainability Launchpad journey and we’re excited to see how the teams and their ideas develop and change over the next 8 weeks!

If you are interested in partaking in our next Sustainability Launchpad or are a domain expert in any of the fields discussed above feel free to get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.

This blog is written by Ellen Le Bas from the Sustainability Launchpad facilitation team. If you have any questions about the Launchpad programme just email

Circular Economy
Mary Cronin
Author: Mary Cronin
November 6, 2018
Mary is an innovation specialist, systems thinker and circular economy facilitator. As the founder of UpThink Innovation Agency, Mary works with SMEs and large organisations as a circular economy/climate change/ESG consultant.